Gloria Montacute is in Venice, having temporarily removed herself from England following the death of her mother and inheriting a great collection of art treasures. The monetary value of these is of no consequence to her – she has previously worked in a lowly capacity in a London hospital and possesses a strong sense of social responsibility which outweighs any material wealth. This is in stark contrast to her dead mother who did not really appreciate the ‘art’, but viewed the treasures as rapidly soaring investments. Dealers gather and salivate, and one of them sends a handsome young man to Venice. Jake, Gloria’s cousin, and Henry, a neighbour, also pursue her. Gloria harbours suspicions that this be because of her inheritance. The conclusion is as much a surprise as we have come to expect from Stewart’s novels, on this occasion weaved by Gloria herself in a splendidly romantic manner. With wit and humour, yet with a vein of seriousness running throughout, Stewart manages to bring all of the characters to life and grip the reader right to the end.
This novel yields high comedy and mystery surrounding an Oxford College, told by a schoolmaster narrator, and written by J.I.M. Stewart, himself an Oxford Don and master of dry wit and surprise. Supported by his wife, Arthur Aylwin’s desires to be Provost of the College – so much so he is prepared to give up a University Chair so as to achieve it…
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