The Stockholm Octavo

Engelmann, Karen

(Book - 2012)
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Stockholm Octavo
Life is close to perfect for Emil Larsson, a self-satisfied bureaucrat in the Office of Customs and Excise in 1791 Stockholm. He is a true man of the Town--a drinker, card player, and contented bachelor--until one evening when Mrs. Sofia Sparrow, a fortune-teller and proprietor of an exclusive gaming parlor, shares with him a vision she has had: a golden path that will lead him to love and connection. She lays an Octavo for him, a spread of eight cards that augur the eight individuals who can help him realize this vision--if he can find them.
Publisher: New York :, HarperCollins Publishers,, c2012
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 0061995347
Branch Call Number: PS3555.N413 S76 2012
Characteristics: 416 pages :,illustrations ;,23 cm


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Not the most satisfying read but it made me realize how much I enjoyed the Swedish TV series "Anno 1790" which takes place around the same time. So, if you liked the time period, I strongly recommend watching it.

Having risen from penniless orphan to salaried bureaucrat, sekretaire Emil Larsson has everything he needs to secure his position in society - except a suitable wife. When cardsharp, seer, and political activist Mrs. Sofia Sparrow promises to help him find love through a tarot card spread known as the Octavo, Emil eagerly accepts her offer. As Emil searches for the eight individuals depicted in the cards - one of whom is his destined true love, all of whom are fated to play a crucial role in Emil's success -- he unwittingly becomes enmeshed in the political intrigue surrounding King Gustav III's court. In addition to a colorful cast of characters and an intricate plot, this richly detailed debut, set in 1791 Stockholm, also depicts the cultural obsessions of the era, from the seductive art of the fan to the mystical geometry of cartomancy.
Historical Fiction July 2014 Newsletter.

Jul 22, 2013
  • JCLGreggW rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

A wonderfully unclassifiable book that takes place in 18th Century Stockholm, Sweden, the "Venice of the North," where high culture, political intrigue, and commerce swirl. Caught in the middle is Emil Larsson, a low-level customs official who is told he needs to marry if he wants to keep his job. A committed bachelor who prefers gambling to the home life, he turns to a friend to lays out an Octavo, a tarot-like reading of his destiny. A search for true love quickly draws our hero into palace intrigue, including catching wind of a plot to assassinate the King of Sweden - and most importantly, we learn about the importance of a lady's fan. Delightful, absorbing, and with just the barest hint of the supernatural, this is a fun read for fans of historical fiction.

May 23, 2013
  • finn75 rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Interesting characters but the story did feel longer than was needed.

Dec 16, 2012
  • maven rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

The story began with a strong start, and I was really interested to see where the premise would go. Unfortunately, it started to drag after about 40 pages or so, and it just kept getting more and more drawn out. The perspective kept changing, and the characters didn't seem to develop or feel real to me.

I kept going, hoping that things would pick up, but when I got to the endless details about fans and geometry, presented in boring conversation and over-detailed descriptions, I had to call it quits. It could have been so much better than it was, but it just didn't deliver.

"Conspiracy brews underneath the chandeliers and across the gaming tables of 18th-century Stockholm, in a debut novel alight with color and magic."
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app03 Version musli Last updated 2015/02/24 14:10