The Madonna of the Astrolabe by J.I.M. Stewart ( aka Michael Innes) was first published in 1977 and it’s the fourth book in his A Staircase in Surrey quintet. The setting is an Oxford college, the fictional Surrey and the books follow the characters who had first met as students there. Some have never left there as they’ve stayed on and become dons.
The college tower which Duncan Patullo’s famous artist father had so admired that he decided it was the only college for his son to attend – is in a serious condition. It had been recently blasted clean, and it’s thought that that has contributed to the damage.
A large amount of money is needed to maintain the college tower and when a very old painting is discovered it seems that their problems are over – or are they?
Duncan Patullo’s nymphomaniac ex-wife has turned up in Oxford, in the past she’s been more than partial to men much younger than herself, so a male college is a dream location for her, but she’s a potential embarrassment for Duncan, particularly as she has hung on to his surname after he divorced her.
I’m really enjoying this journey back to 1970s academical Oxford. I just have one more book of this series to read and I’ll be sad when it comes to an end.
In case you don’t know Patullo is one of those more unusual Scottish surnames, at first glance people often think it’s Italian I think.
I read this one for the Read Scotland 2017 Challenge and 20 Books of Summer 2017.