Sepeda, Toni. Brunetti’s Venice: Walks with the City’s Best-Loved Detective. Grove Press, 2008.
Reason read: prepping for a grand trip to Italy. Venice is on the list. I cannot wait to walk the same streets as Lord Byron, Wagner, Goethe, and Proust. They all went to the San Marco district of Venice for inspiration. I must see the equestrian statue of Colleoni.
Brunetti’s Venice is a very clever book. Part travel guide to Venice and part homage to Donna Leon’s character, Guido Brunetti, Brunetti’s Venice is one hundred percent entertainment. Using direct quotes from each of Leon’s mysteries a reader can tour Venice through the eyes of Brunetti. Places like Murano become more vivid. Quoting from all Leon’s mysteries was a bonus for me. I am afforded glimpses of passages from books not on my Challenge list. It also gave me a chance to get to know Guido Brunetti better, as Sepeda writes just as equally about Commissario Brunetti the person as she does the island city of Venice.
As a travel book, the most appreciated information was the time it should take to walk each route using the detailed map. I have to wonder if the information has held up. Information like when restaurants are closed, how to visit a basilica, how to avoid the seedy parts of town. When Brunetti’s Venice went to press Sepeda said, “…today only three exist until the new bridge linking Piazzale Roma and the train station designed by the Spanish architect Calatrava is finished” (p 143). Well, is it finished? Are Venetians still suspicious of Sicilians?
Aside from wondering how current the information, I loved the idea of the great authors who have wandered around Venice: Charles Dickens, George Sand, Balzac, and Cocteau to name a few. Imagine Othello in Venice…
Confessional: I fell in love with Guido from the very first book. He is passionate, sensitive, and predictable. I loved that as a member of the law he lived in an illegal apartment; a structure without permits, blueprints, or statement of intent.
As an aside: Donna Leon admits to getting lost in Venice. Tommy Puzey guaranteed we would get lost during his Walk Italy series on iFit (so far we haven’t).
Quote to quote, “One of the secrets Paolo and Brunetti never revealed to anyone was their decades-long search for the ugliest Christ child in western art” (p 127). Can you just see them whispering to each other, rating the artwork across Venice?
Author fact: I heard a rumor that Sepeda has given guided tours of Brunetti’s Venice. She must really love Donna Leon’s books.
Book trivia: Sepeda uses arrows to indicate when it is time for walkers to move on. I felt it was unnecessary.
Nancy said: Pearl said it would be fun to recreate strolls described in Brunetti’s Venice.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter “Veni, Vidi, Venice” (p 240).