The Ruby in Her Navel

By Barry Unsworth

This book was long on historical detail and very short on plot. The first part was intriguing, but the promised exciting story about just who “Her” was and just how she got that ruby was sort of a no-brainer. I liked the main character well enough, and I have to admit I fell for the intrigue as much as he did, and I was as shocked by that intrigue’s result as I was supposed to be, but the revelation of the mystery was kind of duh. It was part Cinderella story, part The Graduate. Gee, a poor girl with no background makes good in the big city. Gee, an establishment boy with a bright future gives it all up for the romance of the bohemian lifestyle!

I think the author really wanted to write a spy novel but knew too much about the 13th century to place it in an appropriate context or to leave the knowledge-pounding out of it.

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