Book review: The Strange Journey of Alice Pendelbury

Dear friends,

I “borrowed” this book on Kindle Unlimited.  I would describe it as a road-trip novel, or a fictionalized travel memoir.

We meet Alice Pendelbury, a single woman living alone in a London flat, and her across-the-hall neighbor, Ethan Daldry.  Alice works as a “nose,” a person with an acute sense of smell who creates fragrances.  Ethan is an artist, and he covets Alice’s flat, because she has a skylight, and the natural light would enhance his paintings.  He had wanted to buy the flat before she moved in, so he is grumpy toward her at first, and toward her motley group of friends.


Alice and her group of single friends (they reminded me of the phrase “urban family”) go to a carnival one weekend, and Alice has her fortune told by an old gypsy woman.  The woman tells Alice that everything she knows about herself is false, and that she will meet an important man who will change her life, but she must meet six other people first.  Alice also learns that the woman believes she was born in Turkey, which seems impossible, as Alice is sure she was born in England to English parents.

Alice and her neighbor Ethan take an excursion to Turkey, to investigate the fortune-tellers claims.

Overall I enjoyed the book, but found it VERY slow.  Lots of long, meandering descriptions of locations, which I suppose some would find “atmospheric,” but to me, they bogged down the story at times.  Ethan seems too young to be such a curmudgeon, although we eventually find out why he is so grumpy toward Alice (it’s not about the skylight).  Alice’s “important man” turns out to be quite a surprise.

After plodding along for hundreds of pages, the resolution of the book seems to come very quickly.  There are a few plot twists at the very end that wrap things up, but they come in rapid succession, and left me a bit unsatisfied.  After the lengthy, descriptive nature of the rest of the book, I actually would have liked more detail at the end.

It was ok.  Not a waste of time, but I wouldn’t reread.  Incidentally, the author is French and the book was originally published in French, so this is a translation.  It’s possible that culture and language are playing a part in my responses here.

Happy reading,

Winnie and the Professor