There is enough variety in A Most Extraordinary Pursuit to please any reader. It’s part romp, part bawdy, part adventure, part fantasy, part travelogue, part romance, part chase, part mystery–frequently all on the same page! It’s an entirely terrific and very enjoyable hoot. It would also help if you able to suspend your disbelief, especially regarding the dimension of time. That way you won’t be upset when visits from deceased people to the heroine seem to happen with great regularity. Or when events from 475 BC (or thereabouts) seem to have happened merely yesterday.
In 1906, the current Duke of Olympia dies suddenly, but his heir is not on the premises. In fact, no one really knows where this nephew is, but he may be in Greece, trying to solve a centuries old mystery that has transformed itself into myth. After the Duke’s funeral, his Duchess implores his secretary Miss Emmaline Rose Truelove (really!) (a young woman in her mid-twenties) to travel to Greece and find the missing heir, whose surname is Haywood. Indeed, Maximilian is an expert on anachronisms, which subject was very dear to the old Duke’s heart.
For whatever reason, Miss Truelove is at times encumbered by a very real hallucination of Queen Victoria, dead these five years, who tries her best to advise and dissuade the younger woman from making the trip. Unfortunately, her majesty is not very successful. Miss Truelove is an emancipated young woman and every bit as knowledgeable and capable as any young man, and believes herself to be the best choice for this errand.
The Duchess has also provided an escort of sorts – Freddie, the Marquess of Silverton – of whom the old Queen, (Victoria) says, “is one of the most cheerfully promiscuous reprobates in England!” Regardless, he is a terrific hero–dashing and cavalier, and apparently tall, dark and handsome, not to mention fluent in Greek. Of course. I mean they are going to Greece, right? But, had Miss Truelove known that at some future date she would have benefited greatly by a similar fluency, surely she would have promptly remedied that situation.
The language throughout is thoroughly delightful and witty, prompting the reader to indulge in smirks, giggles and outright guffaws! It seems perfectly logical that the only crude words (not spelled out) are expelled by ‘rough Americans’.
Interspersed throughout, mostly at the end of each chapter are excerpts from a book to be published in 1921 by A. M. Haywood, titled “The Book of Time.” They do help to flesh out the main story, quite nicely.
This would make an excellent 13-or-so-part cliff-hanger series, as at least that many unexpected events entangle Emmy and Silverton on their escapades. It is tricky to hang on to your equilibrium in some places, but well worth the effort! I would happily give it more stars if I could!
First and foremost, Kelly is a reader, then a writer and editor. She adores Regency-set novels, and cozy mysteries. Every now and then, however, she finds something else to enjoy if it has a great premise with characters who belong in there, and fabulous writing! She writes under her own name, as well as her pen-name, Hetty St. James.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Berkley. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.