Tuesday, 4 August 2009
After the death of her long-time friend and flatmate, Julia Garnet for the first time in her life gives in to impulse and rents a flat in Venice for six months. She was brought up by narrow-minded, religious parents and had escaped into a life of teaching and dabbling with socialism. She had never explored her emotional or spiritual self and had always kept other people at arms length.
The beauty and history of Venice begin to open her up and she makes friends and connections in a way that she has never done before. She becomes especially interested in an old story of a family of Jewish exiles in ancient Nineveh, whose only son Tobias goes travelling to claim a debt long owed to his father. He is unaware that his travelling companion is the Archangel Raphael, and has to face great danger in order to claim his bride and bring her home safely.
As Julia falls in love for the first time with an unsuitable man and has her heart broken, makes friends with the English restorers who are working on an old chapel associated with the artist Raphael, and wanders through the ancient buildings of Venice, she has to absorb new truths and start seeing the world around her in a totally different way.
This is a slow moving book that took me a while to read. The descriptions of Venice and the story of Tobias were fascinating, and it was a refreshing change to have an elderly heroine. Lovers of fast-moving action will not enjoy this, but if you are in the mood to just gently drift along with a book; this one is for you.
Break out the prosecco in honour of Julia Garnet’s favourite drink in Venice and have a dish of olives handy!