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A Curious Beginning: A Veronica Speedwell…
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A Curious Beginning: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery (edition 2015)

by Deanna Raybourn (Author)

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6947020,818 (3.78)56
Member:LukeS
Title:A Curious Beginning: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery
Authors:Deanna Raybourn (Author)
Info:NAL (2015), 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
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A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

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» See also 56 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
Curiously lighthearted but a nice beginning to a series. ( )
  bookczuk | Jun 11, 2019 |
I had mixed feelings about this book. I didn't finish it. Thus I didn't give any stars.

First, though, the writing was good. Deanna Raybourn is obviously an experienced and accomplished novelist, and it shows in the confident style, dynamic characterizations, and momentum of the plot. There was a lot to enjoy.

What made this a do-not-finish for me was the protagonist. Veronica is an independent, opinionated, sexually-liberated female who abhors the concept of motherhood and marriage. If she inadvertently shocks the Victorian sensibilities of those around her, well, that's unfortunate. Not her problem.

I realize that Raybourn intends to characterize Veronica as a strong female. But Veronica's cool attitude toward others doesn't signify strength to me; it signals a lack of empathy. I can handle unsympathetic characters lacking in empathy. (Think Amy Dunne in Gone Girl. Total psychopath. Loved the book.) But the difference is that antiheroes aren't meant to be seen as heroes.

Here, I suspect that Veronica is meant to be seen as a positive, sympathetic character. But when she responds coolly to the news of the murder, I have a hard time seeing this cool attitude as strength of character. Granted, she barely knew the man. Still, she seems almost disdainful of others' reactions and it's not until later in the book that she expresses sympathy to someone for the loss of their friend.

The other thing I disliked about Veronica is how she objectifies the male body. She's constantly lusting after good-looking men or checking out their bodies. Okay, male characters (and real life men) do this. But feminists would decry this objectification of the female body, and rightly so. It's a huge problem.

So why is okay for a woman to do this? Why does it signal "sexual liberation" and "strength" rather than "oppression"? This is a double standard.

Again, if Veronica were meant to be seen as an antihero, then I wouldn't have a problem with it because her attitude would be portrayed as problematic. But she's not.

I got halfway through the novel and was so turned off by Veronica's attitude that I couldn't finish the book. Maybe she changes through the rest of the series. I hope so. There's a lot to like in Raybourn's writing.
  MeredithRankin | Jun 7, 2019 |
I really enjoyed this. Veronica is spunky, sassy, smart, outspoken, and independent. I love strong women. Stoker is equally charming, intelligent, and snarky. They make a great team and I look forward to reading more of their adventures. The solution to the big mystery was a little silly, IMO, but it didn’t detract too much from the awesomeness of the characters. Suspend disbelief and go along for the ride. There are lots of fun, quirky secondary characters, as well and I felt the whole thing was well written and well paced. ( )
  DGRachel | Jun 4, 2019 |
I did enjoy the book very much for the most parts. It was entertaining, funny to read sometimes and I really wanted to know what was so special about Veronica. One thing I thought about when I read the book was that even though I liked Veronica, she just didn't seem to suit the century. I mean this is the year 1887, not 1987. She is freely talking about sex, she had several dallies, she even asks Stoker when the last time he had sex and she seems so liberated in a period when women absolutely weren't that liberated, well not without losing their reputations. I still like her, she is a marvelous character, sure sometimes she was borderline annoying and a bit know-it-all. But still, she is great, loves her freethinking way even though it goes against everything I know about the period.

The one part of the story that I found dragged down the story a bit was the circus part. Stoker and Veronica have run away after the barons murder and is hiding in a circus and I just felt that it took far to much of the story and that it just didn't feel that relevant. This was more a get to know Stoker's background. And, the whole thing with them pretending to be married was kind of amusing, but mostly I just wanted the story to get moving towards more about veronica and why there seem to be people after her.

But after that, the story took off again and I loved the part where we got to know more about her family. That was a very gutsy twist to the story! I'm looking forward to reading the next book in this series when it is released.

I received this copy from NAL through Edelweiss in return for an honest review! Thank you! ( )
  MaraBlaise | May 19, 2019 |
Fun and fluffy. Needs kissing! ( )
  xiaomarlo | Apr 17, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
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Masters, AngeleNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451476018, Hardcover)

In her thrilling new series, the New York Times bestselling author of the Lady Julia Grey mysteries, returns once more to Victorian England…and introduces intrepid adventuress Veronica Speedwell.

London, 1887. As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria’s golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a sharpened hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England now gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans, as Veronica discovers when she thwarts her own abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron with ties to her mysterious past. Promising to reveal in time what he knows of the plot against her, the baron offers her temporary sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker—a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can deliver on his tantalizing vow to reveal the secrets he has concealed for decades, he is found murdered. Suddenly Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run from an elusive assailant, wary partners in search of the villainous truth. 

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 23 Mar 2015 10:49:07 -0400)

"London, 1887. As the city prepares to celebrate Queen Victoria's golden jubilee, Veronica Speedwell is marking a milestone of her own. After burying her spinster aunt, the orphaned Veronica is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry--and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as she is fending off admirers, Veronica wields her butterfly net and a sharpened hatpin with equal aplomb, and with her last connection to England now gone, she intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime. But fate has other plans, as Veronica discovers when she thwarts her own abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron with ties to her mysterious past. Promising to reveal in time what he knows of the plot against her, the baron offers her temporary sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker--a reclusive natural historian as intriguing as he is bad-tempered. But before the baron can deliver on his tantalizing vow to reveal the secrets he has concealed for decades, he is found murdered. Suddenly Veronica and Stoker are forced to go on the run from an elusive assailant, wary partners in search of the villainous truth" --… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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