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A Provençal Mystery [Kindle Edition]

Ann Elwood
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (360 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $9.95
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Book Description

Why did a nun in a seventeenth-century convent flagellate herself until her blood spattered the wall? Why did nuns save a child doomed to death in the Holocaust and who wanted her killed? Who wants a lost head-shaped reliquary that holds something other than a head? And are answers to these questions the key to a terrible modern-day death in a quiet archive?

When American historian Pandora (Dory) Ryan finds a very rare, uncataloged seventeenth century nun’s diary inside a record book at the provincial archives in Avignon, she is thrilled. This is historian’s treasure. But she doesn’t know yet that it will send her on a search that brings about changes in how she feels about her profession, the irrational, and love with a sexy Frenchman. And it will take her from the archive on a dangerous adventure into the countryside of Provence, which, beautiful as it is, has a long and bloody history.

The archive’s dramatis personae: the grumpy archivist, with his paper-clip chains; the gofer, who smokes Gauloises and gets away with far too much; a nun with a sense of humor who harangues high school kids about sex; the nun's glamorous sidekick; a famous American historian, whose requests for documents are inexplicably denied; the eminent professor, destined to fall in love; his nervous graduate student. And that sexy Frenchman, who isn’t who he says he is.


Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Ann Elwood lives in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California, with six cats, a desert tortoise, seven box turtles, and a German shepherd, Louis. She grew up in Saddle River, New Jersey. After college, she taught elementary school for a few miserable years, then moved to the Philadelphia area and landed a job as a typist-clerk at the Philadelpha Bulletin. When her boss discovered she had difficulty typing up circulation figures with twelve carbons, she was fired and found another job writing copy for a paternalistic insurance company that offered a low salary and delicious free lunch. One of the typesetters had the magical ability to square up a stack of paper into a perfect cube. Eventually she moved to a studio apartment on Irving Place in New York City, and, after a few months of writing copy for a textbook company, went on to freelance as a writer of anything anyone would pay her for. In 1967, she moved to Los Angeles, where she was advertising manager for a publishing company. Then the West Coast was a mecca for writers and adventurers. Within a couple of years, she visited a Malibu beach house, fell in love (long-distance) with Bob Dylan, met Thomas Pynchon (he wouldn’t remember it), and saw Hair. In 1972, she returned to freelancing. The following year she moved to Cardiff. She wrote articles for Irving Wallace and his son, David Wallichinsky, (People’s Almanac and Book of Lists), and did other wonderful things she won’t mention here. With Carol Orsag Madigan, she wrote several non-fiction books. A desire to delve more deeply into ideas finally drove her to graduate school in 1981. Her dissertation focused on an order of 17th and 18th century French nuns so she had to spend a happy year in France doing research. While not in the archives, she drank local wine with fellow historians and traveled the country with her dog, Puppy, who had far less trouble than she did communicating with the French. Now, she teaches history part-time at California State University, San Marcos, spends time with Louis and the other animals, and writes the books she has always wanted to write but never had the time for.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1277 KB
  • Print Length: 233 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008H727LS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #370,745 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
67 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Provencal Mystery September 20, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What could a nun's 17th century diary, the daring rescue of a Jewish child from Nazi Germany, and an American historian, Pandora "Dory" Ryan, conducting research in the Archives de Vaucluse of Avignon, France, possibly have in common? Well, they just might all be connected to a modern-day murder in which several suspects have intriguing connections to one, two, or all three of these events, separated though they are by time and distance.
Drawing on her sure knowledge of French convents and archives (based on her own years of historical research) , and her keen insights into human character, Ann Elwood offers a mystery that keeps the reader wondering just who murdered--well, no, I'll not give away the victim's name!
As for who committed the heinous crime, suffice to say there are plenty of suspects, all of them moving in and out of the Avignon Archives, thereby forcing Dory Ryan to transform herself from historian into sleuth. Dory's research skills serve her well--particularly her discovery of a lost diary full of clues--in the setting of this quiet research center suddenly turned crime scene.
Just who among those gathered at the archive might be a murderer? The brilliant, aloof Rachel Marchand, she of the mysterious historical mission? The conceited Professor Fitzroy, or perhaps his sidekick, Jack, a pompous, insecure graduate student? Or could it be Chateaublanc, the sourly arrogant archivist himself--or even his smirky assistant, Griset?
Or might the murderer be someone from outside the archive? The list goes on, the characters ranging from those you love to those you love to hate. This story is great fun, and author Ann Elwood has made certain that half the fun is figuring who among her cast of characters is capable of murder--and why.
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42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really interesting book. October 21, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It was such a pleasure to read an interesting book, written in good English - a rare commodity these days! The investigation into the difficulties of post-war France, and finding people disappearing, changing identity, and even being murdered because of the quite distant past, kept me riveted to the pages. Intriguing characters, both past and present, and insight into life in and around French convents shows a great deal of research has gone into this book. I look forward to reading more of Ann Elwood's writing.
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing and Smart September 22, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
An interesting journey into both history and the razor-sharp, outspoken mind of an academic who's probably never going to make it in academia, A Provencal Mystery is a delicious read. Devotees of intricate mystery plotting may stumble a bit with this one, but readers who long for a charming, idiosyncratic protagonist and reams of fascinating information will love it. The perfect gift for that hard-to-buy-for intellectual on your list. You know, the one who speaks French to her cat and collects 16th century soup recipes, but pays the rent with her job as an insurance fraud investigator? It's that kind of book.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Glimpse into the Past September 16, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
This is one of those wonderful hybrid historical mysteries that weave in and out of the modern present and the mysterious past in a way that enchants. The main protagonist, Dory, is a history professor who isn't so sure she can continue to conform to the rules of academia, and her discovery of a 17th diary of a nun while on sabbatical in France leads her into to a world of ritual, self-mortification, and the Devil that feels so real it begins to challenge her rational hold on the here and now.

In addition, every one of the people she works alongside in the Avignon Archives de Vaucluse has a secret, scholars and staff alike. And when Dory, like her namesake Pandora, begins to uncover these secrets, the results, including murder, are unexpected.

For readers who like their mysteries to take them to new places, A Provencal Mystery offers beautiful descriptions of Avignon in winter, the cold mistral wind, the narrow streets, a country market and a medieval cathedral. The mystery itself is well-plotted, and Elwood cleverly uses diaries, legal depositions, birth and death records, and an oral history to develop that plot. But it is the world of Rose the converse nun, as revealed in diaries, that makes this book extraordinary. I highly recommend it.

Mary Lou Locke
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting mystery October 21, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Thank goodness for an intellectual mystery, with an intriguing Frenchman as a bonus. The mystery is not as convoluted as some, but the information about Provence and the interior of a 17th century convent makes interesting reading. Ann Elwood writes well and has produced a complex story without obscuring the basic plot.
I generally don't like historical novels, but enjoyed this one very much.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Provencal Mystery by Ann Elwood January 8, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The writing is very descriptive and delightful. In the beginning the book seemed to be well put together and thought out, but as it got toward the end I had the feeling the author was in a hurry to finish and didn't take the time to rewrite and polish. I'd have enjoyed it more had the end been as well written as the first part of the story.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Secrets in a nunnery May 19, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
I like genealogy and history so the story appealed to me a little like solving mysteries in a family history a little slow in places but gave me a glimpse of life in a nunnery I haven't had before
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22 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Where am I? October 22, 2012
By sallry
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
An interesting book with a few too many jumps from story to story. There are so many things going on that it's irritating to lose one thread and have to pick up another. Otherwise, I found it to be a romance with a few mysterious threads and a combination of Jewish and Roman Catholic religious stories. A little too convoluted for me.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Quite good
The story held my attention and I enjoyed the plotting and characters. Unfortunately, it seems to be poorly edited, with a number of incomplete sentences, missing words and... Read more
Published 2 days ago by 8eremitic8
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Thoroughly enjoyed the book. Reminded me of De Vinci Code which I also couldn't put down.
Published 2 days ago by Deborah R Feldman
3.0 out of 5 stars a but slow, but good overall
Begins very slow, with a very large cast of characters...a bit hard to follow at times, but overall, a very interesting and historical story of old world France...
Published 3 days ago by Kathleen A. Staran
4.0 out of 5 stars nuns past and present
at first I wasn't really into the story but it grew on me as I continued reading it and before the end found that i was very much into the story. Read more
Published 3 days ago by lee b
5.0 out of 5 stars FICTION /' HISTORY REGARDING CATHOLIC PROGRESS
The story bounces back and forth over a 300 year period of time involving
a convent and a rich family. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Lazy-B
5.0 out of 5 stars surprisingly good
A Great fiction story of the life of nuns in Early France told by a modern day historian...history with
a little romance...a little danger...and a murder! Great read.
Published 4 days ago by samagnolia
1.0 out of 5 stars WHY CAN'T THESE PEOPLE PROOF THEIR EDITIONS?!
WHY CAN'T THESE PEOPLE PROOF THEIR EDITIONS!

I refuse to read a book with such careless presentation. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Susan Nielsen
5.0 out of 5 stars History in the seventeenth century comes alive as Rose writes,
But, can Sister Rose, living during that time and know what was going on, convince Pandora? This mystery, told as if it was the 1990's, holds you to where you don't want to put... Read more
Published 13 days ago by Sandy Hoodenpyle
4.0 out of 5 stars nice mystery
I liked this book. After a while, it became engrossing to me. Like many mysteries, the resolution is too quickly dispensed with, as compared to the buildup. Read more
Published 20 days ago by Pamela Lininger
2.0 out of 5 stars weak, spotty mystery
The title of this book implies a better story. Slow to unfold, the 'mystery' takes an abrupt turn about halfway through. Read more
Published 21 days ago by bookaweek
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More About the Author

About the Author


Ann Elwood lives in Cardiff-by-the-Sea, California, with six cats, a desert tortoise, seven box turtles, and a German shepherd, Louis, who looks something like Rin Tin Tin in his soulfulness. At night she can hear the ocean when the tides are high.
When she was a child in New Jersey, her family had a shepherd dog, Mac, who died a tragic death, shot because someone thought his foaming-at-the-mouth fear of a thunderstorm meant he had rabies.
After college, she taught elementary school for a few miserable years, then moved to Camden, New Jersey and landed a job as a typist-clerk at the Philadelpha Bulletin. When her boss discovered she had difficulty typing up circulation figures with twelve carbons, she was fired and found another job writing copy for a paternalistic insurance company that offered a low salary and delicious free lunch. One of the typesetters had the magical ability to square up a stack of paper into a perfect cube.
Eventually she moved to a studio apartment on Irving Place in New York City, and, after a few months of writing copy for a textbook company, went on to freelance as a writer of anything anyone would pay her for. In 1967, she moved to Los Angeles, where she was advertising manager for a publishing company. Then the West Coast was a mecca for writers and adventurers. Within a couple of years, she visited a Malibu beach house, fell in love (long-distance) with Bob Dylan, met Thomas Pynchon (he wouldn't remember it), and saw Hair. In 1972, she returned to freelancing. The following year she moved to Cardiff and adopted her first dog as an adult - Puppy, a mixed breed who looked something like a fox. (To show you how inappropriate Puppy's name became, she'll tell you this: Puppy died at age 17.) She wrote articles for Irving Wallace and his son, David Wallichinsky (People's Almanac and Book of Lists), and did other wonderful things she won't mention here. With Carol Orsag Madigan, she wrote several non-fiction books.
A desire to delve more deeply into ideas finally drove her to graduate school in 1981. Her dissertation focused on an order of 17th and 18th century French nuns so she had to spend a happy year in France doing research. During that year, while not in the archives, she drank local wine with fellow historians and traveled the country with Puppy, who had far less trouble than she did communicating with the French.
Now, she teaches history part-time at California State University, San Marcos, spends time with Louis and the other animals, and writes the books she has always wanted to write but never had the time for.

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