THE VIOLINS OF SAINT-JACQUES by Patrick Leigh Fermor

THE VIOLINS OF SAINT-JACQUES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A volcano, miscellaneous wildlife, and island foodstuffs are the stars of this slim shard of Caribbean romance--the plot's barely more than an incident. Now aged, vibrant Mademoiselle Berthe remembers that 1902 aristocratic French household on the isle of St. Jacques: the moody Count who feuds with the crude Corsican governor; the Count's daughter, Josephine (Berthe's cousin), who's smitten with the governor's equally crude son and doesn't quite perceive the extent of Berthe's infatuation with her; the Count's son, crazy-in-love with Berthe and suicidal from rejection. A Mardi Gras ball sets all these passions to music, with cameo appearances by an armadillo, a deadly trigonocephalus, an iguana who likes Lucia di Lammermoor, masked lepers, drunken Creoles, and--for a grand finale that renders everything, including Josephine's midnight elopement, moot--an island-obliterating eruption. These are perhaps raw materials for a sultry saga, but here the tone is wistful, decorous, and terribly refined (hunks of French sans translation), turning those beguine rhythms into the mildest, merest National Geographic-al diversion imaginable.

Pub Date: May 6th, 1977
Publisher: St. Martin's