Before I start, this review doesn’t have a picture not because I couldn’t find one, but because they were all so darned small! Anyway, apparently, I’ve been reading these books out of order. First was “Sorcery & Cecelia”, then came “The Grand Tour” (which this post is a review of), and then, lastly (at the current moment), “The Mislaid Magician”. Oh well, at least I found it. XD So this book is called “The Grand Tour”, the alternate title is “The Purloined Coronation Regalia”. It is by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. This concerns “Lady Schofield” and “Mrs. Tarleton’s” wedding journey with their husbands, and they are accompanied by Lady Sylvia, Thomas’s mother, who is Kate’s mother-in-law.
Obvious, but I felt like pointing it out for no obvious reason. They are on their way to Paris (yipee!) when a mysterious Lady In Blue delivers something for Lady Sylvia, which turns out to be some sort of holy oil for the coronations done in the past. Which means it was used in old magic (a.k.a. ancient magic) and is quite powerful. In this story, Napoleon is still alive, but is captured (defeated and all that, remember, this is an alternate world where magic is real and accepted in society etc. etc.), and it turns out that he was partly able to conquer people so easily because of some sort of spell that helped out, something like what Julius Caeser did to make himself emperor. After leaving the inn they had been at when the oil was delivered to them, they make their way to Paris (once again). This time, they are held up and robbed. Lady Sylvia, Cecy, and Kate have their reticules taken. Of course, Lady Sylvia’s has the little bottle of oil. It would have been an unimpressive robbery, if one of the robbers hadn’t reached for Kate’s wedding ring…
Needless to say, seeing as it was Thomas’s new focus, he went mad and blasted the guy with magic (poor fellow). They all did something… and no would get injured it seemed. Then James got shot (ouch). I think it went through his back or something and came to rest against a bone. Luckily, he didn’t die and was fine afterwards. It turned out he’d been shot four times before, and only one of them (other than the one he was recovering from at the time) had been Thomas’s fault. It was when they were fighting the French you see, but you have to read that for yourself, because I seem to have forgotten the details (how convenient). Anyway, when they finally reached Paris, Lady Sylvia held a card party so she could talk to the Duke of Wellington (or whatever his name was, his army nickname was Old Hooky though) and tell him about the robbery. Before that though, they visited some Bishop and the newlyweds found out about a form of letter sending….. via knitting.
Of course, none of them are very good with needles (except Thomas, but not with knitting needles. Darning needles are the ones he’s good with) except for Lady Sylvia, but that’s to be expected seeing as she knew about the knitting communication for quite some time. Anyway, good Old Hooky told them about a series of robberies from each country in Europe. The curious thing is that each thing that was stolen was part of a ritual for that country that would make a person (from a royal bloodline, stuff like that) the ruler of that country. It’s very weird. And on their way there they had encountered something that might be linked to it, Mr. Strangle (one of the odious men who helped Sir Hilary in the first book) is the tutor of Theodore Daventer, a nice young boy, and Mr. Strangle dropped something strange into a bowl at the Temple of… sorry, I’ve forgotten the name of the temple.
Anyway, Old Hooky gives them permission to find out whatever they can about the situation, but not to connect it to him or anything official. So it is, officially, an unofficial search. Confusing, but whatever. Before the card party, Lady Sylvia, Kate, and Cecy went shopping (they certainly could not attend operas (they’d never been to one before) or parties in Paris when they were dressed in London fashions!) and got a bunch of things. Mainly dresses, gloves, things like that. And Cecy was quite bent on getting French maids for both of them. Kate wasn’t looking forward to that, because she felt that maids might dissapprove of her clumsiness, or her habit to lose gloves and get her dresses torn or spill things. Thomas told her that he was not going to let her get a maid who intimidated her. Luckily though, one of Lady Sylvia’s visitors from before the card party left a letter telling Kate that his sister might do as a maid for her. So she interviewed Mr. Reardon’s sister (later, (I forget whether Mr. R’s sister was married or not) Mr. R’s sister was just referred to as “Reardon”) and found she liked her. So she hired her. It took Cecy much longer to find a French maid (and it also took plenty of interviews, Kate was glad she already had her maid so quickly so she wouldn’t have to do that). Eventually though, Mrs. Walker came into their lives, it turned out Mr. Strangle had nearly hired her for… things.
Anyway, Mrs. Walker was French, and Cecy felt she couldn’t just turn her out onto the street (Mrs. Walker was in trouble, and had to support a daughter you see) so she hired her as a maid. And hey, she was French! So Cecy got her wish to have a French maid. Though in a rather strange way in my opinion. Anyway, it also turns out that Thomas’s valet Piers wasn’t actually that good a valet for a reason… he was actually a bodyguard Thomas had hired to protect Kate when he wasn’t there. He did say that he should have told Kate before he did it, but seeing as he did it with the best intentions, Kate forgave him. The story progresses on and on, Lady Sylvia stayed in Paris when they went to go follow some other leads. Anyway, it led them to some very exciting things, and they went to Venice at one point (I want to go there even more now) and that’s where Cecelia tried to make herself a focus. Unfortunately, it didn’t work, but not because she did anything wrong.
Nope, it was the simple fact that she was in Venice that made the spell go wrong. Weird huh? Anyway, later Cecelia succeeded in making her focus, and good for her I say! You really have to read the story yourself, because it is simply spectacular. Oh yes, did I mention that Sir Hilary appears again, but he appeared dead? He was probably killed by two people (that’s what Captain whatsisname said when he visited them in Paris), and then Mr. Strangle was killed in Milan, stabbed and left in a fish pond, something like that. And so soon after Mr. Strangle was fired by Lord Mountjoy, Theodore’s uncle! And something isn’t quite right about Mountjoy either. Did I forget to mention that around the start of the story (the night after they got that oil from the Lady In Blue) someone tried to robe Lady Sylvia? “Stop, thief!” yelled at the top of her lungs woke up everyone else so they didn’t only find out at breakfast. There was a Cinderella reference too (the thief left behind a Turkish slipper accidentally), which I found amusing. Anyway, the slipper belonged to Lord Mountjoy it turned out.
I loved this book just as much as I loved the others, but a part of Kate’s memoirs that was omitted (so that Thomas wouldn’t get too self-satisfied from always getting his way) which I find rather sad. I would have liked to know the rest of that conversation. Anyway, if I was to rate this out of ten (or some other number with a one and zero in it), I would give it: ten out of ten. Seriously, these books are quite wonderful. I recommend them to anybody. XD