The Light-Hearted Quest by Ann Bridge
High Atlas, Morocco by Nouari0 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Common
This is the first book in a series about Julia Probyn, an intrepid woman who becomes involved in solving mysteries. When Julia's cousin Colin disappears, his unhappy family decide to send her on a quest to find him. They are sure that he's still alive and safe but they find his actions odd. His sister Edina is especially upset and annoyed because she has to leave her highly-paid advertising career to take care of the Scottish estate.
Julia may look like a 'dumb blonde' (the author's words) but she is an extremely clever and practical young journalist who can charm anybody, including her long list of boyfriends
who appear to propose at the drop of a hat! Julia discovers that Colin is in Morocco, perhaps smuggling, and sets off on a small, rather dirty boat that is not at all what she is used to! However, she makes the best of it and she soon becomes friends with the crew, especially a helpful officer, Mr. Reeder.
She is able to use her journalism as a cover in Morocco and she also obtains a job as a secretary to a rather eccentric archeologist. Julia's journey takes her all over Morocco and she certainly has to keep all her wits about her because she doesn't know who she can trust! However, she has a good time along the way - this book actually made me hungry at times because Julia has delicious French food in some fine restaurants and always manages to find excellent picnic lunches as well! She also spends a lot of time in a bar trying to obtain information from the owner.
The Light-Hearted Quest is a travelogue as well as a mystery story. Bridge's descriptions of Morocco are colourful and vivid and she includes lots of interesting historical information, especially about the Phoenicians and Romans. Anyone who reads it will want to go to Morocco.
This book was written in the 70s and, be warned, it's not politically correct. None of this worried me, except for the anti-Semitism, which I found rather shocking. Bridge praises the French colonists highly which may not go down well with some readers. I didn't know much about Moroccan history and the book has made me more interested in it.
I really enjoyed this rather frivolous story with its likeable heroine, interesting characters, exotic setting and its touch of romance. I can't wait to read the rest of the series!
I received this free ebook from Net Galley in return for an honest review.