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Scherzo Paperback – July 5, 1999
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Jim Williams' Scherzo takes us to the city of gondolas and masks in its most decadent period, to an 18th-century never-never land where dates and identities blur.
Williams has produced one of the more decorative historical thrillers of recent years and at the same time interestingly subverts the whole genre. The games intrinsic to thrillers are played with delicious frivolity. And yet, what is serious is the touching portrait of the vulnerable narrator Ludovico who gradually acquires self-respect amid the threats and contempt of his social superiors. --Roz Kaveney --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
I bought this on a special cheap deal and was expecting to get what I paid for. I hoped to get a decent mystery, because I'm a fan of the genre. But I'm also a fan of serious literature. I not only got my mystery, I got a novel that is masterful in plot, tone, style, diction, pace, structure, versatility and characterization. Like Dickens, this brings an entire society to life, from the lowest to highest -- including its rank smells. Like Hitchcock, every character who appears, no matter how briefly, is a fully realized and recognizable human, from Casanova to Voltaire (well, maybe) to a vulnerable and tormented castrato. And they're all at play in an engaging story, which is maybe the most important thing for any novel.
I'm not quite finished, but I've already ordered three more books by you. I'm looking forward to them.
I was happy to see there was no prominent female character in this book- if Williams has one weak point it's his struggle to portray sympathetic and realistic female characters. It's almost as if he tries too hard.
Overall a great read, I think you are supposed to get lost in the plot a bit, because one of his ongoing themes is reality vs illusion, truth vs perception. For instance in all his books there are parts I first think are tongue-in-cheek... or are they? The plot could be secondary to his beautiful writing style anyway.
and yes, you will be picking up your dictionary frequently and writing the words down for later reference. Really vocabulary-expanding.
This is a book I will re-read, and I almost never re-read books. It is so rich in historical context, geographical description, literary references, and human insight, that I have no doubt I would get more out of it the second time around.
A historical fiction murder mystery in which a cowardly eunuch and an infamous philosopher play the roles of Watson and Holmes, peppered with letters, memoirs, and errata from supporting characters providing alternate views of plot points—some of which are blatant lies. The ambiguity adds to the book, rather than detracts, and enhances the playful-yet-intelligent nature of the book.
Most recent customer reviews
It is easy for me to see why some people would not like it. It is a historical novel--but not exactly.Read more