Frannie here, filling in for Horace today in an effort to early up the review posting (due to popular demand) while he steers us from Bordeaux to Melun over the autoroutes of France. I’m a little rusty on the review front, plus I’ve been speaking mostly French for the last week, so bear with me s’il vous plaît. :)
In today’s puzzle we find an unclued, but referenced answer snaking its way down the center of the puzzle. It is “accessed” by other two other theme answers including 28D. WALLSCONCE (Something you might secretly push in a 19-Across (TROPHYROOM)) on the left, and FALSEPANEL (9D. Something you might secretly push in a 24-Down (BOOKCASE)) on the right. Either might lead you to the HIDDENSTAIRCASE made up of three-letter sections of other answers forming its steps and risers identified by shaded squares, beginning with the first three letters of HIDEAWAY at 20D (Secret spot).
Elsewhere, the puzzle was up and down (if I may). I thought the clue for 7D Quartets after some infighting (TRIOS) was unexpected and amusing. The clue for 66A. “Number two” (AIDE) made me LOL mostly because of what the answer wasn’t. I also enjoyed 4D. Not be a dinosaur (ADAPT), 70A. Good time for a pique-nique (ETE) (naturally), and 3D. Chianti or Asti Spumante (VINO). But, the top of the heap, clue-wise, was 24D. Where you might adjust the volume (BOOKCASE). Ha!
I also liked JOLT, SUMAC (as a nod to George Bernard Shaw), and CACHET (maybe another theme answer, or is just me?)
|The barriques at Léoville-Poyferré.|
I found some of the other fill to be more of an uphill climb like AUER (Violinist Leopold), YOWLS (despite the great word caterwauling in the clue), ONER (Extraordinary thing, in slang), and PAPA (Family nickname), not in terms of difficulty, but in their lack of élan. Overall though, it a fun solve.
~Frannie (& Horace (photo credit)).