There is no better combination than to read your favorite author while reading for a challenge involving Venice! Does it matter that it is my fourth read of The Passion, by Jeanette Winterson? Not at all. :)
I first read this enchanting novel more than ten years ago and it is still in my top five favorite books. You may surely wonder what is so special about it? Here's a short list:
~ Jeanette's style is incomparable to any other author, dead or alive;
“Perhaps all romance is like that; not a contract between equal parties but an explosion of dreams and desires that can find no outlet in everyday life. Only a drama will do and while the fireworks last the sky is a different colour.”
~ the (love)story that gradually unravels between Henri, Napoleon's cook and Villanelle, the mysterious Venetian:
“In that house, you will find my heart. You must break in, Henri, and get it back for me.'Was she mad? We had been talking figuratively. Her heart was in her body like mine. I tried to explain this to her, but she took my hand and put it against her chest.
Feel for yourself.”
~ the key phrases will follow you long after you finish reading the book and you may find yourself quoting them now and then.
"I'm telling you stories. Trust me."
"You play, you win, you play, you lose. You play. It’s the playing that’s irresistible. What you risk reveals what you value."
~ Venice, described as the "city of mazes", where one can lose one's way, where nothing is certain and everything is unfolding into another thing:
"This is the city of mazes. You may set off from the same place to the same place every day and never go by the same route. If you do so, it will be by mistake. Your bloodhound nose will not serve you here. Your course in compass reading will fail you. Your confident instructions to passers-by will send them to squares they have never heard of, over canals not listed in the notes."
~ magic realism, which gives you the feeling that one day you could live (in) this fairy tale yourself: "Rumour has it that the inhabitants of this city walk on water. That, more bizarre still, their feet are webbed. Not all feet, but the feet of the boatmen whose trade is hereditary."
~ the switch in narrative voice which, if you are not careful, can make you lose yourself between the lines, just like you might lose your way on the small streets of Venice;
~ crossing boundaries and transgression: Villanelle can be as mysterious and provoking as Venice itself.
~ in short,it's a book about loving so/too much: “Whoever it is you fall in love with for the first time, not just love but be in love with, is the one who will always make you angry, the one you can't be logical about.”
Venice will taste, feel and smell even better after you've read The Passion!
Read for the Venice Challenge and the European Reading Challenge