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The Roses Of Picardie

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A string of long-lost and cursed rubies gives the title to this highly imaginative tale by Simon Raven, author of the ‘First Born of Egypt’ saga. Jacquiz Helmut and Balbo Blakeney, among other eccentric characters, pursue the jewels across four countries and eight centuries. Horror, intrigue and high comedy shape the story as it races towards an unforgettable climax.


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A string of long-lost and cursed rubies gives the title to this highly imaginative tale by Simon Raven, author of the ‘First Born of Egypt’ saga. Jacquiz Helmut and Balbo Blakeney, among other eccentric characters, pursue the jewels across four countries and eight centuries. Horror, intrigue and high comedy shape the story as it races towards an unforgettable climax.

30 review for The Roses Of Picardie

  1. 5 out of 5

    mark monday

    hard to know who i could ever recommend this gem to. certainly it requires patience of a special sort. this is a da vinci code kinda book except smarter, longer, very ironic, and quite attuned to its own absurdities. a person would have to find the parallel journeys of two professors trotting around europe and digging up family histories and historical obscurities in search of some cursed rubies to be compelling. that person would not mind lengthy digressions about internecine ivory tower battle hard to know who i could ever recommend this gem to. certainly it requires patience of a special sort. this is a da vinci code kinda book except smarter, longer, very ironic, and quite attuned to its own absurdities. a person would have to find the parallel journeys of two professors trotting around europe and digging up family histories and historical obscurities in search of some cursed rubies to be compelling. that person would not mind lengthy digressions about internecine ivory tower battles and world war two experiments with rat-telepathy; don't worry though, it all comes together in the end. and that person could not be annoyed at snobby humor at the expense of other snobs, intellectual humor at the expense of various lackwits, and insensitive humor at the expense of anyone who isn't a cultured straight white male (although happily, a good deal of that humor is also aimed at the two cultured gents in question). the author is an urbane and sophisticated sort, well-traveled in the ways of the world and in the ways of both the upper class and provincials, and that kind of perspective is its own kind of obnoxious. but nevermind all of that, this is a great book if you have the right mindset and like overly long and overly droll adventures. i took well over a month to read this because it is super dense and also super fun for my own particular personality type - i just didn't want it to end. i like spending time with snobby friends. but my favorite character is far from snobby: a surprisingly cheeky and clever undergraduate embroiled in these diabolical misadventures, always on the grift and always making sure to look out for his pals and his wallet. so what if at the end of the book, while staring rapt at his professor's hot wife being ravished by a hot, undead immortal twin in some eerie cavern as part of some arcane ritual to ward off both a slaughter by rats and to remove an ancient curse, he shamelessly and quite furiously begins to jack off at the exciting sight. who could blame him? i mean really, you don't get to see something like that everyday.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jay Rothermel

    What a pleasure to read this book. A cross-Europe treasure hunt for cursed rubies. With supernatural overtones. Half a dozen characters start from different positions and begin converging. No thriller stereotypes, no Dan Brown melodrama. Just glorious prose and unflagging inventiveness. My review: http://jayrothermel.blogspot.com/2018... What a pleasure to read this book. A cross-Europe treasure hunt for cursed rubies. With supernatural overtones. Half a dozen characters start from different positions and begin converging. No thriller stereotypes, no Dan Brown melodrama. Just glorious prose and unflagging inventiveness. My review: http://jayrothermel.blogspot.com/2018...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Michelle L

    Actually read this in 1981 on vacation in a particularly misty Scotland at a loch-side inn. I have always remembered it with fondness - such elegance and wit for a horror genre, which is not my usual reading. Only because it's so long ago do I hesitate to give it 5*s. Actually read this in 1981 on vacation in a particularly misty Scotland at a loch-side inn. I have always remembered it with fondness - such elegance and wit for a horror genre, which is not my usual reading. Only because it's so long ago do I hesitate to give it 5*s.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Boris Cesnik

    What a Tour de farce! Nothing happens, just a random number of coincidences and guesses that have defined a new meaning for 'stupidity'. All about dialogues, nothing in for actions and suspense. Very weak in all its links, explanations, travels, detours, characters, wit (?), unfoldings - you can add the rest. Only the immensely short episode of 'the dog and the bone' early in the book could have had great potential for a chilling story. That would have been a great tour de force! What a Tour de farce! Nothing happens, just a random number of coincidences and guesses that have defined a new meaning for 'stupidity'. All about dialogues, nothing in for actions and suspense. Very weak in all its links, explanations, travels, detours, characters, wit (?), unfoldings - you can add the rest. Only the immensely short episode of 'the dog and the bone' early in the book could have had great potential for a chilling story. That would have been a great tour de force!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Chiefdonkey Bradey

    Another glimpse of Raven's world - raffish and elegant and heartless Another glimpse of Raven's world - raffish and elegant and heartless

  6. 5 out of 5

    Donal

  7. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  8. 5 out of 5

    Carole

  9. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne Ruthven

  10. 4 out of 5

    N N

  11. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Gizbert

  12. 5 out of 5

    Richard

  13. 5 out of 5

    TIMOTHY SKIPWORTH

  14. 4 out of 5

    Trevor Kenning

  15. 5 out of 5

    Peter

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne Mackenzie

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nada Abd El-Hamid

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ian Evetts

  19. 4 out of 5

    Doctor V

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mavis 69 420 666

  21. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  22. 5 out of 5

    PD 2

  23. 5 out of 5

    Aymery

  24. 5 out of 5

    Matt Bouverie

  25. 4 out of 5

    Gemma

  26. 5 out of 5

    James

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ihsan

  28. 5 out of 5

    Miss Antelope

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brecwast

  30. 4 out of 5

    Minakshi Basu

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