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A Provençal Mystery [Kindle Edition]

Ann Elwood
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (350 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $9.95
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  • Length: 232 pages
  • Word Wise: Enabled
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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: 519 KB
  • Print Length: 232 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: #374,391 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
4.0 out of 5 stars A provencal mystery
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... Read more
Published 15 hours ago by jey cee
2.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre
An ok read for about the first half, very disappointing ending. Seemed rushed and disjointed; lacking in real suspense or realistic drama.
Published 1 month ago by Kathy
3.0 out of 5 stars Murderous Connections
Murders from the past connect with a recent murder. The plot is intriguing and most of the characters are well-defined. Editors missed a few details which were misplaced.
Published 1 month ago by Nancy M. Hollingsworth
3.0 out of 5 stars a good enjoyable historical type of novel
I liked this book because of it's historical components. It wasn't too complicated so I gave it a 3 star, reserving 5 for the best and 4 for almost the best. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Carol A. Trout
5.0 out of 5 stars Research in Paris
This was an intriguing story following a liberated woman doing research to achieve tenure in an all male college in the USA while living in Paris.
Published 2 months ago by Beth Wilson
3.0 out of 5 stars An American historian encounters murder in the archives of a town in...
Well written mystery by an author who seems to be familiar with academic research and the area around Avignon. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Nanohiker
1.0 out of 5 stars A provencal mystery
Very slow and not very interesting. Characters and story line confusing. Do not recommend this book. Just a hard time getting through.
Published 3 months ago by Kathy Milano
3.0 out of 5 stars a review
The best part of the book was Rose's diary.
The connection between the diary was a bit far fetched
Finding a 400 year old diary is very far fetched
Published 3 months ago by Nancy Rizzo
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun mystery
The ending is a bit abrupt, or maybe I am missing a few pages, but this was a fun walk through history and mystery. I highly recommend if you are looking for a puzzle to think on.
Published 4 months ago by C. A. Penny
4.0 out of 5 stars This is a Great Read
Elwood did a very good job in research, character development and great story telling. I would suggest to read anything else you can find by her; solely based on this one... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Jason T. Morris
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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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