Two Giudo's - Brunetti and Guerrieri - Mystery Read-Along
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"Two Guido's" is for reader's who love mysteries and want to share the mystery reading with fellow lovers of mysteries. We will be reading and discussing the works of Donna Leon, who writes the Guido Brunetti series, and those of Gianrico Carofiglio, the author of the Guido Guerrieri series. The two Guido's live and work in Italy. Brunetti lives in Venice and Guerrieri's place of residence will be unknown until we start reading the books. We'll read one book per month and alternate months according to this schedule:
January - Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon
February - Involuntary Witness by Gianrico Carofiglio
March - Death in a Strange Country by Donna Leon
April - A Walk In the Dark by Gianrico Carofiglio
May - Dressed for Death by Donna Leon (originally published as Anonymous Venetian in 1994)
June - Reasonable Doubts by Gianrico Carofiglio
July - Death and Judgement by Donna Leon (originally published A Venetian Reckoning in 1995)
August - Temporary Perfections by Gianrico Carofiglio
September - Acqua Alta by Donna Leon (also published as Death in High Water)
October - A Fine Line by Gianrico Carofiglio
November - Quietly in Their Sleep by Donna Leon (also published as Death of Faith)
December - Silence of the Wave by Gianrico Carofiglio (this is not part of the Guerrieri series, but is classed as a thriller. We can decide later if we want to read it or not as part of this challenge.)
ETA to add Thanks to Benita who did all the organizing of this back on the 2017 group. I'm pretty much just copying her work for this thread!
Where to find this book (as researched by Benita):
The first book in our list is Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon. This novel was published in 1992 and is readily available in libraries world wide. It is available in translation in many countries around the world.
Amazon lists this book as being available in print, both hardback and paperback, as well as electronically as a digital copy. It is also available as a recorded book from many public libraries in both the US and the UK. It also appears to have a German recorded version, but I am not clear if it the recorded book or the TV show.
If you don't have this title in your collection your local library is a good place to start looking for the title. If they don't have it in their collection most US libraries offer a service called Inter-Library Loan (also known as ILL). This service can be either free or there will be a charge for the library obtaining the book for you. However, it is usually less money than the purchase of a new title and the libraries would be happy to help you make the request and for you to use the service. You will have to check with your local library to find out what their policies are regarding ILL requests.
Checking World Cat (the huge US database of books, said to be the largest catalog in the world) it is available in around 500 libraries in the U. S. It is also currently in print and so can be purchased from multiple outlets in the U.S. and around the world from a variety of book selling outlets. Here are a few of the places that the novel can be purchased.
Amazon has both US and World wide web sites.
Alibris - https://www.alibris.com - this is a US outlet for used and hard to find titles. There are currently 308 used paperback copies of this title for sale in the Alibris database. Many of these copies are for sale for $.99. That means that usually you can have the book in your mailbox for $5 to $7. I have used this web site for years to purchase used copies of books and it is very reliable. I recommend this site.
Abebooks - https://www.abebooks.com - This is a US (and I think Canadian, but am not sure about that) outlet for used and hard to find titles. There are currently 482 copies of this title listed in Abebooks. I have not used this web site and so don't know for sure how it works but I am sure that some of our fellow readers have used it and can walk us through how to use it.
Book Depository - https://www.bookdepository.com - This web site advertises itself as the world's leading specialist online bookstore. They offer over 17 million titles, and most importantly with free delivery worldwide to over 100 countries. I have ordered titles from this web site and they have delivered to overseas addresses with no problem. They are rated as reliable, so I don't think there is any danger of non-delivery when using this site.
There are also many large US based Used Bookstores in the US that would be happy to sell this title to any one of us. They have web sites were you can go to order the titles. These include, Tattered Cover based in Denver, Colorado and Powell's Books based in Portland, Oregon.
Tattered Cover - http://www.tatteredcover.com/
Powell's Books - http://www.powells.com/
ETA added by Terri I'm also a fan of Better World Books, www.betterworldbooks.com , which sells new and used books.
Our first book is Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon. As you can see, it has been published in a multitude of editions and multiple languages.
Pick up a copy wherever you can obtain it, and join in the reading and discussion! All are welcome.
Ok, I am back at my desk, and ready to begin re-reading Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon. I read this mystery years ago and I do remember it because it was full of lush descriptions of the Opera house in Venice. What I can't remember is the mystery plot.
My library did not have a copy of this title in its collection so I had to put in an Inter-Library Loan request. As of today, I still don't have it, but hope that it will be here ASAP. The novel was first published in 1992 and, near as I can tell, was published as a paperback. It has subsequently been reissued as a hardback, but since many libraries don't purchase hardback copies of reissued books that they already have in paperback, it may be hard to find many libraries. Inter-Library Loan may be the cheapest was to obtain this title - unless your library has it.
There seem to be plenty of used copies of it available for a very cheap price, so if you haven't ordered it from one-source or another, it is time to get cracking!
Thanks to Teri for adding all the pretty pictures at the top of this thread. Visual cues are important, and help us remember things, so I appreciate the addition of the edition covers. The cover of the copy of Death at La Fenice that I read was number 2 in post #3. I don't remember the plot very well, but I remember the cover.
I thought it might be of interest for us to talk a little about the place where this mystery is set. By that I mean the Teatro Le Fenice. This is the official name of the opera house in Venice, Italy. The name means Theater Phoenix. That name is significant in the novel. The Phoenix is a legend that is common in folk lore. It is most generally depicted as a bird and appears eastern and western folk lore as a creature that regenerates itself from the ashes of its predecessor.
The following description comes from Wikipedia, but I thought it was appropriate for many reasons.
Dante refers to the phoenix in Inferno Canto XXIV:
In the original Italian
Così per li gran savi si confessa
che la fenice more e poi rinasce,
quando al cinquecentesimo anno appressa;
erba né biado in sua vita non pasce,
ma sol d’incenso lagrime e d’amomo,
e nardo e mirra son l’ultime fasce.
In English translation
Even thus by the great sages 'tis confessed
The phoenix dies, and then is born again,
When it approaches its five-hundredth year;
On herb or grain it feeds not in its life,
But only on tears of incense and amomum,
And nard and myrrh are its last winding-sheet.
There have been three opera houses in Venice that have carried the name Teatro La Fenice. The first was built in 1774 and the last in 2001. The two previous incarnations of Teatro La Fenice were destroyed by fire, and subsequently rebuilt.
The fire that destroyed the second Teatro La Fenice was the subject of a book by John Berendt titled City of Falling Angels. Berendt is most famous for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - the book about Savannah Georgia. (I have read both of his books and found them both great fun to read.) Berendt is a part-time resident of Venice, or was, at the time that he wrote the book. The following is from the Reader's Guide from Penguin about City of Falling Angels. It is an excerpt from an interview with him about La Fenice and the book he wrote.
Twelve years ago, John Berendit’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil exploded onto the literary scene and stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for a record-breaking four years. The City of Falling Angels, Berendt’s first book sinceMidnight, is the same unique brand of literary nonfiction that made him a household name. Like Midnight, Falling Angels is a masterpiece of journalism, storytelling, and social insight, doing for Venice what Midnight did for Savannah, Georgia. It is a compelling look at an otherwise inaccessible community of people who inhabit one of the world’s most beautiful cities, a city steeped in art, history, tradition, and ritual.
In particular, The City of Falling Angels is a portrait of the intriguing and colorful private Venice—the world that exists in the off-season, when the tourists have departed and Venetians have Venice all to themselves. The book opens with Berendt riding in a water taxi to his hotel three days after a colossal fire destroyed the Fenice Opera House, one of the most beloved cultural landmarks in Venice. Berendt decides to extend his stay to learn more about the fire and the city from the most beguiling source, though not necessarily the most reliable—the Venetians themselves.
Drawing on all his talents as an investigative reporter, Berendt goes behind the façades of decaying buildings to reveal the city’s intricate, hidden private life. Byzantine by nature, the Venetians reveal themselves in both open and secretive ways—after all, as Count Marcello tells him, “Venetians never tell the truth. We mean precisely the opposite of what we say.” Berendt meets people whose families lived through a thousand years of Venetian history. He speaks with a variety of people who make their homes in grand palaces and in tiny cottages. There is the Plant Man, the wealthy rat-poison genius, the fearless and much feared Venetian prosecutor who unravels the mystery of the Fenice fire, the celebrated artist who schemes to get himself arrested, the well-known Venetian poet who commits suicide, the politicians struggling to point the finger of blame for the Fenice fire away from themselves, the former mistress of Ezra Pound, and the woman who may or may not have stolen her family legacy. Berendt spins a suspenseful tale out of the threads of many stories—some directly connected to the fire, others not. He finds chaos, corruption, and crime are as characteristic of Venice as its winding canals. With a compelling combination of curiosity and equanimity, Berendt presents an intimate look at a community of natives and expatriates as multifaceted as the colors reflected in the Fenice fire and in the artwork designed to commemorate it.
A CONVERSATION WITH JOHN BERENDT
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and The City of Falling Angels are both multi-list bestsellers and widely acclaimed books. Have you been surprised by their success? What do you think attracts people to your work?
My best guess is that what appeals to readers most in both books are the characters. Time magazine said I had become “a state-of-the-art weirdo magnet.” What they meant was that the people I write about tend to be very strange. They are, in fact, eccentrics. I love eccentrics. I see them as artists. Their masterpieces are their own lives.
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil marked your style of nonfiction as unique and groundbreaking. Now, The City of Falling Angels brings Venice alive for readers the way Midnight did for Savannah, Georgia. What do you think the major hallmarks of your writing style are?
I write in the form of what has been called, the New Journalism, or Narrative Nonfiction, or even Literary Nonfiction. Simply put, I write true stories in the style of short stories and novels. I use the literary techniques of fiction writers: extended dialogue, detailed descriptions, the imposition of a narrative structure with action moving from scene to scene.
The huge media buzz that Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil created turned you into a kind of celebrity. How do you think the attention from social and gossip columnists has affected your work as a journalist? Did you find that you were as easily recognized by face or name while in Italy?
What notoriety I gained from all the publicity has proved to be a double-edged sword. It has made some people very eager to be interviewed by me and others afraid and standoffish. I was not as easily recognizable by face and name in Italy as in America, but Midnight was quite well known there, as both a book and a film (under the name Mezzanotte nel giardino del bene del male).
The incredible timing of your trip to Venice, which landed you in the city just days after the burning of the Fenice, gave you the perfect opportunity to create a central thread for The City of Falling Angels. How much of a role did coincidence play in the gathering of information for this book?
Coincidence has been a major factor in the researching of both my books. While I was living in Venice, I always carried a small notepad in my back pocket; I figured I was on duty as a journalist day and night. I would see people in the street who interested me, and I’d engage them in conversation. I’d hear a remark that would send me off in an unexpected direction. My approach in the research phase was to be flexible, to follow my hunches without always knowing where they would lead.
Several prominent and not-so-prominent Venetians express their concern about the rising water levels in Venice. Have you formed an opinion about the issue after hearing so much about it? How do you think the problem can be solved?
Yes, I do think it can be solved. The technology is there. The only uncertainty is exactly how fast the water is rising and whether the proposed plan of moveable dikes is the best solution or only a short-term fix. Other than that, there is always the problem that Italians are congenitally unable to make up their minds. Sometimes that’s a good thing, however.
On page 218, you write, “when you attach yourself to famous people . . . you become part of their story.” As a writer, how do you determine which people rotating in the orbit of famous personalities or powerful individuals are worth writing about, insofar as their stories are important to the “big picture?” How do you choose which stories to weave together when creating a book like The City of Falling Angels?
It’s always a question of whether the ancillary character makes a good story. In the chapter referred to here, the character rotating in an orbit around a famous person appealed to me because her story embodied a theme that runs throughout the book: the uses of the past, or as one character puts it, “the shameless exploitation of the corpse.” There was also the literary link between her story and Henry James’s The Aspern Papers, a relationship I found irresistible.
In Italy, as in other European countries, it seems more common for families to be able to trace their ancestry back for many generations. From your experience with the people of Venice, what do you think it does to a person’s perspective on family relationships, on politics, and on life in general when one is able to point at a family tree, like Francesco da Mosta’s, and see so far back in time?
Venetians who can trace their lineage back hundreds of years feel almost a physical connection to Venice, to its history and culture. And the longer the family line the greater feeling of pride.
There are so many wonderful aspects of Venice to love and enjoy. After spending so much time there, what attracts you the most to the city? How many years in all did you live there? What was it like returning to the United States afterward? Did you suffer from culture shock?
I lived in Venice on and off for a period of nine years—starting a few days after the Fenice fire in 1996, and ending when I was finished with the book and the opera house was rebuilt, in 2005. The city’s magical beauty and its air of unreality are the aspects of Venice I love most.
The loss of the Fenice Opera House is important to the story of The City of Falling Angels and to the history of Venice. Have there been any new developments in the case surrounding its burning or its reconstruction?
The only news about the Fenice is that Enrico Carella, one of the two young men who were convicted of arson in the fire, is still a fugitive; his whereabouts are unknown. The other man, his cousin Massimiliano Marchetti, has been in jail three years (as of September 2006) and is expected to be released within a year.
Of all the stories you tell in The City of Falling Angels, why did you choose to end by returning to the Seguso family and the Maestro’s “Fenice” glass collection?
The Seguso story was one of my favorites, and since I opened the book with it, I felt I should close the circle by ending with it as well.
Count Marcello tells the Save Venice board, “to work and operate in Venice means first of all to understand its differences and its delicate equilibrium.” After completing this book, do you feel that you have achieved Marcello’s standard?
The Venetians are a very Byzantine people. They thrive on mystery, intrigue, and ambiguity. I understand all that, but it doesn’t mean I always understand the hidden meaning of things—or that they do either.
Glad to be here. I downloaded my copy from Hoopla via my library. I'll start it soon, but need to get in a book for my RL book club meeting mid-month.
I read Death at La Fenice recently enough that I'm not ready to read it again. I thought I'd jump in next month with Involuntary Witness. However, >10 benitastrnad: hit me with a BB and I picked up a copy of The City of Falling Angels from the library on my lunch break. (I just got my library card for my new county library last week, and this is the first time I've used it!) I'll use it as background reading this month instead of re-reading Death at La Fenice.
Sounds like a plan. I enjoyed the Berendt book and is has lots in it about Venice that should provide useful background for the rest of the year.
Like Carrrie I don't want to re-read Death a La Fenice. I'll join with other Leons I have not read. I will see about the Carofiglio books. I see 2 titles in our library's e-book collection. Carrie and I may be competing for the book if it is a statewide book, but we both have access to another library's e-book collection too. I have not looked at it. The February title is one they do own.
Hmmm. I've been planning to start this series for years. I just borrowed the book - if I can get caught up with the other two group reads and the threads, I'll start reading it too!
I hadn't planned to reread any of the Brunetti books that I've already read. But it's been quite a while since I read Death at La Fenice, and a copy was available through Overdrive, so I downloaded it to at least give it a glance and refresh my memory, since I'm helping with the thread here . . . and I wound up starting to read it again. I had forgotten how enjoyable it was!
I did the same. I sort of remember the plot, but decided to start reading it again. Last night before bed, I started it.
I'm downloading book 9 Friends in High Places to take the place of the January Guido I've already read. It will be my next audio book.
It was a pleasure to reread Death at La Fenice. I've read many of the Donna Leon books, but somehow stopped reading the series a while ago, so it's very fortuitous to have this thread pushing me to start again.
Of course, I had forgotten everything about the plot. At first I thought it showed the characteristics of 'first in a series' books, but that passed, and I had fun.
I haven't a clue about the other Guido. Hope my library has the series.
I haven't read very much in the book, but I was amused by this little tidbit. On page 29 of my paperback edition, "Brunetti closed his notebook, in which he had done no more than scribble the American's last name, as if to capture the full horror of a word composed of five consonants."
I probably noticed this because my last name also has only five consonants, but it isn't American or English. When I was teaching school the students would often tease me with the phrase "why don't you buy a vowel Miss Strnad!"
Those are are reading City of Falling Angels by John Berendt might be interested in some of the descriptions of the city of Venice found in Death in La Fenice. For instance, there is the beginning two paragraphs of chapter four.
"Brunetti walked up toward the hotel, still lighted, even at this hour when the rest of the city was darkened and sleeping. Once the capital of the dissipations of the continent, Venice had become a sleepy provincial town that virtually ceased to exist after nine or ten at night. During the summer months, she could remember her courtesan past and sparkle, as long as the tourist paid and the good weather held, but in the winter, she became a tired old crone, eager to crawl early to bed, leaving her deserted streets to cats and memories of the past.
But these were the hours when, for Brunetti, the city became most beautiful, just as they were the same hours when he, Venetian to the bone, could sense some of her past glory. The darkness of the night hid the moss that crept up the steps on the palazzi lining the Grand Canal, obscured the cracks in the walls of churches, and covered the patches of plaster missing from the facades of public buildings. Like many women of a certain age, the city needed the help of deceptive light to recapture her vanished beauty. A boat that during the day, was making a delivery of soap powder or cabbages, at night became a numinous form, floating toward some mysterious destination. The fogs that were common in these winter days could transform people and objects, even turn long-haired teenagers, hanging around a street corner and sharing a cigarette, into mysterious phantoms from the past."
I am not sure I like all those comparisons to "women of a certain age" and wonder why it is that decrepit cities should be compared to women's and women's beauty. It makes me glad for all those Dove commercials where they show women of all ages and stages and sizes. I did like the sentence with the word numinous in it, and the one about the capital of the dissipations of the continent.
This morning I read a passage in The City of Falling Angels that talks about crime in Venice. Berendt says that the murder rate in Venice is very low probably because of how difficult it would be for a murderer to escape. Police can cut off the routes to the mainland, and any unusual water traffic would be noticed by other boaters. This seems like something to bear in mind as we work our way through the Brunetti series.
That is interesting and very logical once I think about it. Venice is a series of islands. I think it is something I know but forget.
>23 benitastrnad: >24 cbl_tn: If you go to Venice on GoogleEarth, it is fascinating, and not what I had expected, or what you see in movies. You can use the street view feature in GoogleEarth to take a little tour around Venice. I did this some time ago, but I thought I would try to collect some locations from the book and see if I could find them.
>20 benitastrnad: >21 ffortsa: >22 tymfos: Ditto!
This is the first time I've read anything by Donna Leon, and I have to say I'm impressed so far with what I've read.
In this scene
Slowly the hum of voices faded, the members of the orchestra stopped fidgeting in their seats, and the universal silence announced everyone's readiness for the third and final act.I felt as though I were there, waiting for the orchestra to begin.
I also liked this when the door to the conductor's room was opened
Death had distorted the features of the man who was slumped across the easy chair at the center of the room.Much more poetic than saying someone found him dead in his chair.
What a great touch that the Doctor who helped out had on a Mickey Mouse watch! I hope we see more of her in the book. And speaking of seeing more of something in the book, I thought this passage was curious, unless it plays a part later:
Five minutes brought him to his favourite shop, Biancat, the florist, whose windows offered the city a daily explosion of beauty.
I love the repartee between Patta and Brunetti. He so cleverly manages Patta, and insults him without the latter understanding the insult.
I've just finished the book and I have to say I did not see
I am about 2/3 reds done with the novel. I had read this one years ago and I am finding parts of it that I don’t remember. I think it is a good thing I am rereading it.
Those of you who chose to read the books about Venice I noted one thing in “Death” (DILF) for which I can sympathesize. In my copy of the book it is on page 76, starting with the second paragraph of chapter 9. The paragraph describes Brunetti walking to the apartment of Signora Wellauer.
“... he walked slowly up toward Piazza San Marco. Along the way, he paused to look into shop windows, shocked, as he always was when in the center of the city, by how quickly their composition was changing. It seemed to him that all the shops that served the native population - pharmacies, shoemakers, groceries - were slowly disappearing, replaced by slick boutiques and souvenir shops that catered to the tourists, filled with luminescent plastic gondolas from Taiwan and paper-machine masks from Hong Kong. It was the desires of the transients, not the needs of the residents, that the city’s merchants answered. He wondered how long it would take before the entire city became a sort of living museum, a place fit only for visiting and not for inhabiting.”
Living here in Tuscaloosa Alabama I can sympathize. I work right across the street from the football stadium. That is a building that gets used 8 days out of the year. On those 8 weekends working in my building is very difficult. It wasn’t always that way. I have worked here 25 years and football weekends were fun, now they are a burden. Probably due to the huge influx of megabucks. Football just brings in so much money to the city that it threatens to become the monster that ate the culture and life out of the city. The area next to the University that was known as “the Strip” was a seedy area filled with student bars, boutiques that catered to the student needs, used bookstore, music shop, coffee shop, and locally hamburger joints. Now that area is full of chain fast food restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings, Chipotle’s, and all of the clothing stores are gone. The neighborhoods that were filled with houses where professors lived with their families is now rapidly becoming huge apartment complexes filled with condos that start selling at 1.5 million for a 1 bedroom. These condos are not rented by students. They are used 8 weekends a year. All of this makes life incredibly difficult for residents, but makes for a really great time for the football tourists.
I read a book some years ago about Venice and living in Venice by Judith Martin. SHe is also known as Miss Manners and she is a resident of Venice. The book is about how came to love Venice so much as a place of retreat that she bought an apartment in the city and lives there part of each year. Along with her descriptions of what it is like to live in Venice and take water taxis everywhere and the beautiful courtyard gardens that are so common in the city, she also complained about tourists overrunning Venice. I particular she spoke out about the damage to people and the city caused by the huge cruise ships that come there. The title of that book was No Vulgar Hotel: The Desire and Pursuit of Venice and it was an eye-opener about the realities of living in a city of romance and legend.
Glad to have you aboard Caro. I also find the passages describing the relationship between Brunetti and Patta fun to read. I only wished I managed my boss as well.
I also enjoyed reading the passage about Brunetti’s father-in-law in the exchange between Brunetti and the Doctor. It made me look at Brunetti with a little different view. He must be fairly stiff-necked in order to be married to his wife for close to 20 years and still not know his in-laws very well.
from the 3rd paragraph of chapter 10 (page 89 i my copy). “It would be an exaggeration to say that Brunetti disliked Paola’s parents, the Count and countess Falier, butit would be an equal exaggeration to say that he liked them. They puzzled him in much the same way that a pair of whopping cranes would puzzle someone accustomed to tossing peanuts to the pigeons in the park. They belonged to a rare and elegant species, ...”. There has got to be a story in that kind of distance between you and your in-laws.
I chose not to re-read a Brunetti I'd already read. Instead I read Friends in High Places. It's about the 9th in the series and one of my favorite read to date.
>30 benitastrnad: I think as you read more of the series, you'll understand why Brunetti feels the way he does about his father-in-law. I think we find reasons in many of the books in the series. The one I just read was no exception.
Finished it this morning. I enjoyed it but will reserve my specific comments until later this month.
I found the line where Brunetti, at the end of his patience when his father-in-law kept pestering him to leave the police force and join him in business very telling as to what Brunetti feels about the privileged.... I don't have the book in front of me, so I'm paraphrasing, but when his father-in-law again nags him that he shouldn't keep having to deal with thieves, rapists and murderers, he rebuts with something like " my consolation is that I get to arrest these people, but you have to invite and sit down with them to dinner"
I've read the first two Donna Leon's so I'll read Feb and then April and beyond. Thanks for setting this up!!
Opera has never been a big part of my life. I am aware of the musical genre as an art form, but have never been a big fan. However, my supervisor at work, now retired, has become increasingly involved in the local Opera Guild. The university at which both of worked has a music performance department, and opera is a big part of that department. She has become one of the very active fund raisers for the Opera Guild in the three years she has been retired. I asked her why, because I was not aware that she had been a big opera fan in the past. She told that she hadn't been but it has been growing on her, and she now finds it as engrossing as many people do movies. She is not only trying to keep it alive, but she wants to promote it to younger people and she thinks I would love it if I would only take time to give it a chance. So it appears that next Saturday, I will be going to a simulcast performance of Tosca at our local cinaplex. It will be complete with brunch before the broadcast of the opera.
The opera is going to be - Tosca. What a coincidence!
I finished the book and liked it enough to continue with the series. I am not a big series reader so will only join the group for the Donna Leon books. Next month I plan to read City of Falling Angels for some more background about the city of Venice which intrigues me. Plus, it gives me another opportunity to read another book I have owned far too long without reading.
Some things that caught my attention:
I liked the description of Brunetti on Page 7…"His clothing marked him as Italian. The cadence of his speech announced that he was Venetian. His eyes were all policeman." I like the fact that he seems rather normal. He has a wife and family that he loves--they even play Monopoly together! And, as others have noted, he has an amusing relationship with his boss. He seems like a gentleman who treats people with respect, even when they act like idiots or when he knows they are lying to him.
The description Benita quoted in >23 benitastrnad: at the beginning Chapter 4 intrigued me. I mostly know of Venice from The Talented Mr. Ripley. I have never been to Italy, but always thought that if I had that chance, I would prefer Florence and Rome over Venice. Now I'm not so sure. She sounds like a lady with a past…and I am looking forward to learning more about Venice as we move through the series.
Also, like Caro, I was surprised by the "reveal" at the end. I knew I didn't like the Maestro because of his Nazi leanings, but never suspected other horrors in his past.
I've added Death at La Fenice to the January TIOLI under the Rolling WIKI challenge for "i." If someone has it somewhere else, please let me know.
I love it when reader’s can double up on LT challenges. Your post made me curious enough that I went and looked up the TIOLI challenge to find out what it is. Sounds fun.
It has been awhile since I read City of Falling Angels but I think you will like it. There is much in it about modern Venetian culture.
I have gotten intrigued enough about Venice that I ordered a used copy of Bound in Venice: The Serene Republic and the Dawn of the Book. I don’t know when I will get around to reading it, but I will have a copy of it.
I did some searching this morning on Opera and Venice and I found a title that might be of interest to those who might want to explore the music side of this story. Granted, the title I found isn’t Toscanini but it is opera and Venice. The following blurb is from the Amazon page.
Librettist of Venice: The Remarkable Life of Lorenzo da Ponte by Rodney Bolt
The operatic life of the librettist for Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro.
In 1805, Lorenzo Da Ponte was the proprietor of a small grocery store in New York. But since his birth into an Italian Jewish family in 1749, he had already been a priest, a poet, the lover of many women, a scandalous Enlightenment thinker banned from teaching in Venice, the librettist for three of Mozart's most sublime operas, a collaborator with Salieri, a friend of Casanova, and a favorite of Emperor Joseph II. He would go on to establish New York City's first opera house and be the first professor of Italian at Columbia University. An inspired innovator but a hopeless businessman, who loved with wholehearted loyalty and recklessness, Da Ponte was one of the early immigrants to live out the American dream.
In Rodney Bolt's rollicking and extensively researched biography, Da Ponte's picaresque life takes readers from Old World courts and the back streets of Venice, Vienna, and London to the New World promise of New York City. Two hundred and fifty years after Mozart's birth, the life and legacy of his librettist Da Ponte are as astonishing as ever.
>1 tymfos: Terri and >10 benitastrnad: Benita . This sounds like a great adventure. Benita, thanks so much for the lead on the City of Falling angels. I'm going to be lurking heavily in this group. Hubby and I took a long trip to Europe back in September and included 5 days in Venice in our trek. Since we are both Brunetti fans (we've read them all!) we made it a point to visit La Fenice during our stay. They were getting the stage ready for an evening performance so there was a lot of "clutter" going on, but it was still easy to get a good feel for the grandeur of the site.
We also dipped into Brunetti's Venice: Walks with The City's Best-Loved Detective which is great background for anyone with time to stroll thru Venice.
These are interior and exterior pics of La Fenice we snapped that day. I was a magical place = even with all the "busyness" going on. Highly recommended, and now I want to re-read the book because it's been a good while and I have some real memories to go with all of Guido and Paola's adventures.
And I'm also looking forward to discovering a new Guido and am off to find Involuntary witness for next month.
>42 tututhefirst: Hi, Tina. Good to see you! Your trip sounds fabulous. The interior is much how I pictured it, but the exterior seems so small for such a grand place.
I remember reading somewhere that many of the buildings in Venice are smaller than people think due to the way the city was built. If you have to drive pilings down into mud with lots of effort then it is easier to build up than to build out. I think that St. Mark's square is large in comparison to the other church's and piazza's in the city and that is why it became such a tourist spot.
Some friends of mine visited Venice and said that the city was very walkable as it really isn't that big. I also noticed that title Brunetti's Venice and wondered if it would be helpful and fun to do after reading the books. Do tell us more about what walks you did out of the book.
I just started this book and I'm on chapter 5. I love reading how Brunetti walks home and his apartment is near the market by the Rialto Bridge. Also, the mention of his apartment being four flights up. When I went to Venice in 2011, our hotel was an old building near the market and Rialto Bridge. Our apartment was on the fourth floor as well. I loved the old buildings with no elevators and such a rich history. It made me chuckle that Brunetti's apartment does not have a legal permit to be built. He trembled at the prospect of the Herculean task of getting the permits that would authenticate both that the apartment existed and that he had a right to live there. The mere fact that the walls ere there and he lived within them would hardly be thought relevant. The bribes would be ruinous.
I don't know if I mentioned this or not up-thread, but I thought I had read this novel Death at La Fenice years ago. After I had read about 50 pages I realized that I had confused it with City of Falling Angels and I had NOT read any of the Donna Leon series. I didn't really want to buy a copy of this novel, so I decided to put in an Inter-Library Loan request for it. It took a little longer than I anticipated - almost two weeks - to get to Alabama. The copy I have came from the University of Massachusetts - Amherst. I looked in WorldCat (the largest book database in the world) and was surprised to see that there are approximately 675 libraries in the U.S. that own the American edition of this debut novel. That is not very many libraries. They are scattered around the U.S. California and Illinois have the most copies of this novel with New Jersey in third place. But still - there are just not very many copies of the title in public libraries in the U. S.
I am guessing that the reason there are that many copies is the following.
1. It was a first novel, so the series wasn't as popular as it is now. Libraries purchasing this novel would have been taking a chance on an unknown author.
2. The first edition of this title was only issued as a paperback. Since there were fewer original purchases it stands to reason that as the title aged, it would get damaged and torn since it was a paperback. That cuts the numbers of this title even more.
3. Libraries have weeding policies. Once a title begins to not circulate titles are removed from shelves in order to make room for newer titles. Libraries are like our houses. There is limited space available for shelves of books. As this title aged it was probably removed from a good many libraries.
3. Many libraries don't participate in Inter-Library Loans, so there are even fewer numbers available for ILL use.
All this combines to make the book hard to find in libraries. It is a good thing it is still in print and available from sources like Amazon. There are good number of used paperback copies available for purchase there. I will be putting in my ILL request for the second title in this series on Monday, as it may take some time to get it here to Alabama. I hope this one doesn't have to come all the way from Massachusetts.
I just downloaded one of the two copies of Involuntary Witness for our February read. I decided it was close enough to February now that I should download it before all the copies are snapped up!
>49 thornton37814: I'm planning to borrow the e-book, too. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has a copy available via Overdrive.
Naturally, I've got a backlog of ebook holds that came available while I was finishing another e-book. So I'm hesitating to borrow it now and have it expire before I can get to it and finish it, but I'll probably be sorry if I don't.
Benita, I think at one point when we were first planning this, you mentioned separate threads for each book, but I think that's a bit unwieldly, especially if we want to do any comparisons of the two series. Should one of us just do a post to launch the 2nd Guido, and should we do it now? We can still discuss the Leon -- everyone just make sure it's clear which book a post is about.
ETA to add: I borrowed and downloaded it.
>48 benitastrnad: I think the Death at La Fenice is more widely avaiable from libraries these days via e-book loan; as you noted, it's likely most of the original paperbacks fell apart or were weeded as usage dropped. Both Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and Free Library of Phiadelphia have it in their Overdrive collections, though my local library doesn't.
One nice thing about living in Pennsylvania -- the ACCESS PA system allows those with a card at their home library to get cards at other libraries, as long as their home library and the other library they want a card from both participate in the ACCESS system. Philadelphia makes it pretty easy to do online; Pittsburgh requires a visit to one of their library branches for a permanent card.
I've hardly said anything about our book yet. This is what I posted on my own thread:
Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon e-book, reread
Book #1 Commissario Guido Brunetti series
I checked out this e-book just to refresh my memory, and it's so good, I wound up rereading it.
There is a death, of course, at La Fenice opera house, and Brunetti is called to investigate. The victim is a famous conductor found dead in his dressing room of cyanide poisoning between acts of a performance of La Traviata. The victim's work is loved and admired by the music world; people consider him a genius. However, the man, as a person. . . . was possibly an ex-Nazi, or at least a sympathizer; was definitely a virulent homophobe, who often made life unpleasant for LGBTQ musicians in his path; was willing to blackmail people; and was the kind of man who abused his power over women who sought roles in his projects (before the "me too" movement). So, do you think there are a few suspects? (In the end, it turns out he's even worse than all that!)
This book was written in the early 1990's, so since then, attitudes may have changed in Italy about some things, and awareness may have blossomed regarding others.
Anyway, I love Leon's writing. I like the character of Brunetti, and his wife, and the supporting cast, and even the minor characters. Leon brings them all deftly to life with little details which make them real. She also gives a good sense of Venice and its culture.
That's what I said on my thread. I realize that's not a very in-depth analysis of the book, and you all don't need the plot overview. I wish I'd had time to pull out the passages I liked most, the details that struck me. (In any case, the library loan has expired.)
I finished La Fenice last night and am now about 1/3 thru City of falling angels. I first read the Leon book in 2009 so I was really surprised to realize that although the city and the characteers were quite familiar thanks to my recent visit and having read all the books in the series, the plot did not pop right up. Hence I was able to enjoy reading how Brunetti went about solving the mystery and what the actual conclusion of the case was. Donna Leon is one of my favorite authors, although I suspect from reading some of her bio and interviews she wouldn't be one of my favorite people.
I was also suprised to realize that several of the characters introduced in La Fenice reappeared in later volumes - not so suprising when one realizes that Leon's passion for opera is going to pop up periodically along the way. I kept looking for other characters who have become my favorites but who must not appear for 2 or 3 morei episodes. so I'm defintely up for reading the whole series again.
And I am loving the Berendt book! Wish I'd read it before our trip. I did succumb to a Google search about the glass blown by the master in the period immediately following the fire. If you're interested you can drool here
One thing that struck me as I was reading, I have always had the impression that European countries were more cosmopolitan than the US, especially regarding LGBTQ awareness. Granted the book was written 26 years ago, but it seems that homophobia was very prevalent in the book, and not just with Wellauer. It seemed pretty extreme that the courts would take away custody of Flavia Petrelli's children because of immorality due to a lesbian relationship. It's difficult for me to remember back to 1992, but I'm fairly certain that would not have been an issue in the US at the time. Did this strike anyone else?
I did enjoy the book, but I was a little surprised at the ending, especially for the first book in a series. I'll put this in spoilers in case not everyone is finished reading.
I think there was talk above of the animosity between Brunetti and his father-in-law, the Count. I thought it was interesting that the doctor told him that the Count carries Brunetti's picture with him, and is proud of both Brunetti and Paola. I am surprised that this wasn't elaborated upon in this book, but perhaps it comes into play in future books?
>53 tututhefirst: Tina, thanks for sharing the pictures of blown glass. My husband and I collect blown glass pieces (very small ones), and I absolutely adore it. A good friend of mine became a glass blower and apprenticed in Murano and made an annual trip there.
I think that we should just continue with this thread and post about Involuntary Witness right here. When we hit 150 posts we can then do a new thread - or think about it. I am gathering information to do a big post about the new book and will get that done in the next couple of days, but I think we should just post as we please. As Suzanne says over on her non-fiction challenge - this isn't a contest, so we can be laissez-faire about the thread.
There have been several people who are reading City of Falling Angels as a result of reading Death in La Fenice and I would be interested in hearing some of the thoughts about that book. I think it is wonderful that reading a mystery rouses curiosity that leads to further exploration of a subject. I think that is illustrative of the power of a good story.
It is now time for us to turn our attention to our other Guido - Guido Guerrieri. This mystery series is written by Gianrico Carofiglio. Carofiglio is a former judge in the Italian legal system. He specialized in organized crime and anti-Mafia cases. He was also elected to the Italian Senate and served in that body from 2008 - 2013. Unlike Donna Leon, who is a transplanted American living in Venice, Carofiglio, lived and worked in the southern Italian city of Bari, located in the Italian state of Puglia. He still lives in that area, but now appears to be a full time author. Carofiglio, unlike Leon, writes in Italian.
Involuntary Witness is the author's debut novel written in 2002. It won several Italian and European book awards for mystery novels and this drew the attention the English publishers Bitter Lemon Press. Bitter Lemon Press is a small independent publisher based in London. This press specializes in translations of literary crime novels. The novel, Involuntary Witness, was translated and published in English in 2005.
The city and province of Bari is located on the Adriatic (East) side of Italy. It is right at the top of the heel of Italy's boot. It is a well known resort town in Italy, but isn't that well known as a vacation destination outside of Italy. It is probably what the Amalfi coast was in the 1950's. However, in recent years, it's popularity has increased and it is on the way to being another resort hot spot for vacationing internationals. Even Rick Steves, has included it in his travel guides, so it won't be long and many people will know about it. Bari is surrounded by spectacular seascape due to sharp escarpments, and wonderful sandy beaches that are often secluded. The province is roughly 1,450 square miles in area and has a population of approximately 1,200,000. The area is very hilly with a long short in width coastal plane. The main industry is agriculture and the main product is olives and olive oil.
The long and short of it is, that the setting for this novel, in direct contrast to that of our Brunetti novel by Leon. Bari is an isolated and largely agricultural region while Venice is very touristy and crowded with a large industrial base.
As a note of interest - Carofiglio served as the president of the Petruzzelli Theatre in Bari from 2015-16. The Petruzzelii Theatre is the fourth largest opera house in Italy. Due to financial problems it closed in 2014 and then reopened. Also, it was completely destroyed by a fire on October 26 & 27, 1991. The cause was arson. It was finally rebuilt in 2008 with public money.
It may be hard to find a copy of Involuntary Witness. A quick search of WorldCat shows that 339 libraries in the U. S. have this title. Inter-Library Loan may be an option. There are also used copies for sale in both Amazon and Alibris. Book Depository also has copies for sale. Happy Hunting folks.
Drats, I'm going to have to give this month's GR a miss. Involuntary Witness isn't available at my library as an e-book. And since I'm currently traveling, I can't get hold of a print version. Oh well.. I'll just have to enjoy the book vicariously through the rest of you and then read it when I get back.
>57 benitastrnad: I checked out a copy through Tennessee Reads, the statewide Overdrive program. At the time I checked it out, there was one additional copy available. I'll probably be using ILL for many of the Carofiglio titles.
My library had a copy of this first Carofiglio title, but it doesn’t have any of the others, so I will be getting them through ILL. I will also have to get a fair amount of the Brunetti books that same way. I will place my ILL request for the second Brunetti in a few minutes.
I finished up Death at La Fenice last night. I really enjoyed it. I thought it was a nice introduction to Brunetti. I look forward to getting to know him better.
I'm about halfway through the first of the "other Guido" books. I hate it! I'll only read the Brunetti ones. I'm debating whether or not to continue this one or not. I'm leaning toward "not."
This is definitely a legal procedural. One of the things I found enlightening about it is that it does much to explain how the Italian legal system works. In that sense it is not a mystery and very much a procedural.
I also thought that at the beginning there was too much emphasis placed on the existential, or something like that, that Guerrieri is experiencing. I was rather bored by that and thought it was so typically a male mid-life crises that I found it boring. That is ground that has been covered before. Since I finished the book, I see how that piece fits into the puzzle that Guerrieri is trying to solve. The last half of the book does pick up in pace because not only does Guerrieri have this crises to deal with he also has a crises of conscience and he has to confront what he is going to do as a lawyer. Is he going to just play along with the legal system and take the clients money or is he going to get his feet under him and defend his client?
As I read this book, I did not understand how much different the Italian legal system is than is ours. The description of the jury and the purpose of the jury was very enlightening in that sense. I do think that the book is more of a legal procedural than it is a mystery.
As soon as I started reading Involuntary Witness it was evident that this was a very different kind of book than was Death at La Fenice. For one thing, this is a translated book. It was written in Italy, by and Italian, for an Italian audience. I think this illustrates that what we (in the USA) think of as a mystery may not be what people in other countries think of as a mystery, and likewise for police procedural. This book, rather sharply, in my opinion, shows up these differences. I very much doubt that this book would have been a best seller in the US like it was in Italy and then in Europe. It is probably the reason why this novel has a UK publisher and not a US publisher.
This is direct contrast to the Donna Leon novels. Leon lives in Italy but she is an American, so her novels are told from that point-of-view. They are aimed at an American audience and an American market.
It also seems to me that the author of the Guerrieri novels thinks that the “story” of Guido Guerrieri is as important as the “story” of the murder and the suspect. The journey of how Guido to from where he was in the beginning of the novel to the advocate (not lawyer) that he became at the end, and that is important for the reader to know. It is a very different emphasis than what we saw in the first novel we read for this compare and contrast group read.
I actually decided to go ahead and finish it. I already had a lot of time invested. As you said, it does pick up. I think your observations are fairly accurate. I don't like the book well enough to continue the series, especially since I only have access to one more title.
I finished Involuntary Witness this evening. I reviewed it on my thread.
I also had many of the same reactions to Involuntary Witness. I've always adored Guido Brunetti - he's on my top 5 male detective list between Armand Gamache and Duncan Kincaid. (Alan Banks and Jimmy Perez round out the list).
I actually enjoy good legal procedurals (Kate Wilhelm's Barbara Holloway series is one of my favorites), but I found this one to be quite plodding and put it down three times before I decided to make myself finish it. Once Guido got over his pity party about 1/2 way through, the pace picked up, the tension was raised and I actually found myself settling in to enjoy the ending.
I'm going to read at least one more of Carofiglio's series, and then decide whether to continue. Brunetti has such a distinctive and well developed cast of characters that I find myself reading them just for their stories. Guido Guierro has a way to go, but I'm willing to see if the author can develop the character and give us something more than just a courtroom.
I agree that the first part of the novel is very boring but it did get better in the last half.
As I read this novel I was reminded of the Amanda Knox murder trial in Italy. (She and her Italian boyfriend were on trial for murdering Knox’s roommate in a love triangle that went bad.) I wish that I had read Involuntary Witness before that trial as I think I would have understood what was happening in the courtroom. At the time the news reports did not give much information about how the Italian legal system worked, so I didn’t really understand why, or how, the verdict could have come out as it did.
I was intrigued by the immigrant angle in this novel as well. The novel was published in 2005. That was 12 years ago and it seems from reading this novel that Italy was dealing with immigrants back then. I don’t recall reading about an immigrant crisis in Italy during those years, so I am wondering if, unbeknownst, this novel is foreshadowing the future problems that Italy has on a much grander scale.
Several of the Brunetti books have some facet of the immigrant problem in them. I don't recall which ones but there are often street vendors of non-Venetian (non-Italian) origin playing some minor to more major roles.
I'm skipping the second Guido discussion for now, as I haven't started it. I did want to say that although this was the second time I'd read Death at La Fenice, I didn't recall the plot and was surprised when Brunetti didn't hold the widow culpable in some way.
It's OK if you don't read all of the books on the list. The idea here is to read when you can and discuss via the threads when you can. After all, the Thread Police aren't going to come out to your house and get you for a violation.
Now that I've finished the 1st of both Guidos, I've had time to mull them over - a mental comparison if you will. I've come to the conclusion that the only things they have in common are that they are set in Italy and both protagonists have the same first name. So here are some other random thoughts, hopefully thought provoking.
1. While both books deal with crime, they are 180˚ out in focus. Brunetti is a detective and looks to solve the "who dunnit" while Guerrieri is a lawyer who must represent clients in court on various sides of the crime. Currently he seems to acquire clients only to fill the coffers.
2. Brunetti is married, well-educated, traveled and urbane. He enjoys an upper middle class life (with some thanks to wealthy and titled in-laws), relishes his life and accepts (often seemingly without judgement) what he sees as the inevitability of crime, and the humanity of some of the criminals. He is supremely comfortable in his own skin.
3. Guerrieri, also well-educated, is struggling with relationship issues in his personal life. He doesn’t seem to have much get up and go, and the author only gives us slight hints at his motivations. His financial situation is precarious and his self-confidence is depleted. At least he seems able to gather enthusiasm for the pure philosophical structure of the law. Hopefully, we'll learn more as the series progresses.
4. The geography is almost a character in the Brunetti books. The city of Venice and its layout on the canals very much influences crimes committed, the tracking of criminals, and the approach Brunetti takes to solving the crime.
5. On the other hand, the geography of Gianrico Carofiglio's stories serves only as a background (at least in the 1st book of the series). I was driven to Google the location, but could find nothing special to encourage me to put in on my places to vacation list, and the descriptions in the book left me totally lacking in a mental picture of either physical or cultural characteristics.
5. The supporting cast of characters is already well-developed in the Brunetti books. One can only hope that the other series introduces and fleshes out some more interesting people.
All in all, I'm hoping that Guido Guerrieri comes more to life in book 2. Else I may have to abandon his future.
>77 tututhefirst: I'm not even giving Guerrieri a chance in book 2. It's not available, and I'm not going to order it via ILL, and I'm certainly not paying money to purchase a copy as much as I hated the first.
I’m not thrilled with the 2nd Guido, but the first 4 in the series are in Hoopla, so I’ll probably read at least one more.
The geography if the Carofiglio books is a factor. Bari is the capital of Apulia, a province in Italy. It is an ancient city and was known as Barium in Ancient Rome. It was an important city in the Middle Ages, and like most of Southern Italy it was never industrialized as much as the prosperous Northern parts of Italy. Bari is Milan's poor cousin. The southern parts of Italy have traditionally had a much lower income level than the northern parts of Italy and all of the ills that come from that kind of disparity. I agree that Carofiglio hasn't done much with the setting other than to tell us that Guerrieri likes to walk around the city. There is the one day that he spends at the beach watching and observing the tourist activity around that beach, but other than that there isn't much of a sense of the city. It will be interesting to read the second novel and see if he does anything with the region or if he continues to concentrate on Guido.
I looked at Rick Steves web site because I remembered that he has a Southern Italy tour that features Bari and the area around it. The link for that is here. https://www.ricksteves.com/tours/italy/south-italy
Here are some pictures of the area as well. https://www.oliverstravels.com/blog/top-10-villas-in-puglia/
When I finished the first two books in our comparison my first thought was Well! They are certainly different. I think that Tina's contrasts are right on the money. Two very different people in two very different places in their lives as the main characters. Add to that two very different kinds of locations. Venice with all that former power and glory and industry on its mainland suburbs, and Bari with nothing much going for it except beach and resort tourism.
As I thought about the novels and their differences, I was struck by the fact that the Donna Leon novel was clearly written for a U. S. audience. It has all of the elements that American expect in their mystery novels. The Carofiglio novel was written in Italian and translated into English after it was a best seller in Italy. Clearly, it was not written with English or the American market in mind. I think that makes it a very different kind of novel, and perhaps to different to do a compare and contrast with the Donna Leon mysteries. It may be like comparing apples and oranges.
It is also clear that I didn't dislike the novel. I thought it was a very proper police procedural much along the same lines as the Martin Beck series by Maj Sowell. I am not sure that it is the same kind of mystery as the Brunetti novels.
All this discussion really makes me want to read the Carofiglio novel. I don't know if I'll like it or not, but hearing about it intrigues me.
Thanks to Terri (>79 tymfos:) for reminding me about Hoopla - I had forgotten that it existed.
While I was searching for a copy of the Carofiglio, which I found, I noticed that there is another Italian detective that looks interesting - the Inspector Montalbano series by Andrea Camilleri. Has anyone read any that series?
That series is very popular. Several of those titles have been best sellers. Andrea Camilleri lives and writes in Sicily. His books are written in Italian and translated. There is also an Italian TV series based on these novels.
I bought the first three Lawyer novels from ABE books. I read the first one and although it is certainly different I didn’t not enjoy it. I expect I want to finish at least the other two. Legal proceduralls are less exciting than American style mysteries but not bad. I’m currently out of commission with some broken bones so not sure when I will get the first author from the library.
I bought the first Carofiglio book from Better World Books (via Amazon) since it isn't available in either public library I can use. Longtime family friends have lived in that part of Italy for decades, so I was looking forward to reading the book especially for the local flavor. It's sounding like there isn't much of that, and I'm not a fan of legal mysteries/thrillers. I will read this one but I may not continue.
>82 rretzler: It's funny that you bring that up now! I just finished the audio of #3 in the Montalbano series yesterday. I listened to the first two when the whole series was available in the public library's Overdrive collection. Then most of them disappeared from Overdrive. Now that I've moved and have access to a different library, I discovered that they're in this library's Overdrive collection! The Montalbano novels have a strong sense of place. The afterword in the audiobook described Vigata as something like the most Sicilian town that doesn't exist.
I enjoy the Montalbano series, too. I like to listen to the audios. Grover Gardner, the narrator, is excellent, IMO.
>86 rretzler: You won't be sorry about the Montalbano books. Grover Gardner does a wonderful job reading those!
>82 rretzler: Robin, the Montalbano series is delightful. set in Sicily, they offer a look at another different Italian geography, food, and culture. Sicily is one of my favorite places to visit, and the Montalbano stories are one of my favorites...especially in the audio format. They were originally written in Italian and translated to English. They have been made into a very successful TV series available in a variety of streaming venues and in DVD. All of the DVDs are available at libraries here in Maine. I can highly recommend them.
The Mantalbano series was one that was discussed as a contrast to the Brunetti series because the number of titles in the series is close to the same. I think Brunetti now as 22 titles and counting and Montalbano is at 18, but there wasn’t much interest in reading them at the time. It definitely has its fans.
I wake up to NPR in the mornings. This morning I heard Slyvia Poggioli's report on the upcoming Italian elections. The election, seems to be centering around the immigration issue. Once again, Silvio Berlusconi, now in his 80's, is running for the office of Prime Minister. Here is an excerpt from the report.
League leader Salvini was quick to say, whoever shoots people goes to jail, but added that uncontrolled immigration leads to social conflict.
"Those who allowed hundreds of thousands of phony refugees, and real criminals to land here, are morally responsible for acts of violence committed in Italy," Salvini said.
Official statistics show the crime rate by noncitizens in Italy is lower than that of Italians.
The League's escalating racist rhetoric poses problems for Berlusconi, says analyst D'Alimonte. "He wants to appear as the moderate leader and he cannot go too far in following the League down the path of chastising immigrants," he says.
And yet, in a TV interview after the shooting, Berlusconi did exactly that.
"Those 600,000 migrants who are here are a social bomb, ready to explode because they live on expediency and crime," Berlusconi said.
I heard Poggioli's name mentioned and I started listening, because I think that Poggioli is a great reporter and Italian politics is so much fun. As I listened, I thought this sounds like some of the struggle that Guido Guerrieri had with his court case.
Here is the link to the full story on NPR. You can either read it or listen to it.
I finally got to Involutary Witness, and I agree that Tina has nailed the comparisons between this and the first Donna Leon book. I'd like to add some impressions:
This book is very much about a man trying to come to his senses after a fracture in his life. It is my impression that most of the first half of the book is almost exclusively about Guido. When the trial actually begins, the work seems to revive him and lead him to an ethical framework, as yet not described, that we can hope to see in the following entries in the series.
And with that last sentence, I feel like the character's style has affected my own!
There were times when the story took on tones of Perry Mason; the courtroom speeches, especially Guido's summation, are very wordy, but I think they would work pretty well spoken out loud; reading them was a bit of a chore. This reminds me that Carofiglio is associated with the theater, and may have that kind of presentation in mind.
And of course the troubles of immigrant communities entering previously homogeneous (or presumed homogeneous) societies is very much in tune with what is happening in Europe as well as the U.S.
I hope to like this Guido more in subsequent books, if I can find them. Right now, I like the first Guido much better.
AS a compare and contrast study, these two Guido's are quite different. I also wonder if being from two different regions of Italy is also at play in the differences. By that I mean, Guerrieri is from the "poor" South, an area that has been traditionally dependent on agriculture and small shopkeepers, while Brunetti is from the Industrial North (area around Milan) where wages are higher and in general the area is more prosperous. I will be ready to read the second title just to see if that difference plays out, or should I say, plays into the characters in different ways.
Thank you for that analysis and insight into the character of the second of our Guido's. I liked the comparison to Perry Mason. That was not an angle I would have thought of.
>93 benitastrnad: Your analysis of the economic differences is very telling. Venice and Bari do feel very different, socially as well as economically.
Something else about these two books occurred to me this afternoon. In each case, there is a thread of disappointment for the reader. Brunetti discovers the killer but lets her off the hook; Guerrieri succeeds in getting an acquittal for his client, but no one discovers who actually committed the murder (and in this way not at all like the guaranteed closure from Perry Mason!).
I was looking through some of the passages in Involuntary Witness that I had marked, and this one stood out for me.
"The fact is that we have opted for American-style trials, but we lack the preparation the Americans have. We lack the cultural basis for accusatory trials. Look at the questioning an d cross-questioning in American or British trials. And then look at ours. They can do it, we can't. We never will be able to, because we are children of the Counter-Reformation. One cannot rebel against one's own cultural destiny." page 87 in my paperback copy. Guerrieri is the narrator in this passage and he is talking about some very radical changes that were introduced in Italy in 1989. What struck me about this was the idea that one cannot rebel against one's own cultural destiny. I wonder what the cultural destiny is? Is it different in different parts of Italy?
I was looking at this novel again today as I was getting ready to check it in at the library and took one last look at my bookmarks.
Remember that scene at the end of the trial when the defendant asks Guerrieri why he has put up such a good defense and taken the time to gather evidence and really put thought and effort into defending his client? Guerrieri doesn't answer. Instead he asks the court guard to let him into the defendants cage. He just sits there. They smoke a cigarette together and then after a period of time they start talking. Guerrieri as narrator, never tells the reader what the two said. He does say earlier that he has had to learn to distance himself from his clients and the trials. on page 262 he says"Getting emotional and nursing expectations are both dangerous things. They can do harm, even treat harm. And not only in trials. I thought about this now while the courtroom was emptying. I thought I had done my job well, I had done everything possible. Now I had to feel unconcerned about the result." page 262. I wonder if this emotional distance is what makes us uncomfortable when reading this novel?
In defense of Guerrieri, it seems to me that he has done a good job of distancing himself from everything, but somehow he didn't distance himself from this client and this particular case. It makes me think that there is hope for him as a person as well as a caring lawyer. Or Advocate, as it is titled in Italy.
I too was much more forgiving of Guerrieri at the end than I was prepared to be in the begnning. I am looking forward to the next in the series to see how and whether he is able to continue this detachment.
I have to say I was a bit underwhelmed by Involuntary Witness. I, too, am not a particular fan of the legal procedural, though this was far from a typical work of the genre. I'm willing to give the next in the series a try, as it's available in Hoopla.
I am probably going to skip doing a re-read of next month's Guido Brunetti title, as I'm wrapped up in school and work, plus will be attending the Public Library Association conference during the month. It hasn't been that long since I read it, and I think I remember a fair amount of the plot and subject matter.
Today is February 25th so from now on we are free to discuss Involuntary Witness with no spoiler alerts. (As if we haven’t done that already.)
I am glad that some of us have decided to give Guerrieri another chance and read the next book. In the meantime, we will be moving on to book 2 in the Brunetti series. Death in a Strange Country should be readily available in public libraries, and of course the used book is an option. I have put in my ILL request for it on Friday, so hope to get started on it as soon as it comes in.
Donna Leon’s book was really good but I must be an anomaly in also liking Involuntary Witness. I did so for the following reasons:
I liked the fact that the author takes the time to give us reasons for Guerrieri’s malaise: the separation from his wife, his refusal to look at his past choices, and his recent career spent on shallow and meaningless cases mainly to make money. Contrast this with the Way Brunetti is portrayed as a man who has his act together personally and professionally. He has problems as we all do in life but he basically knows who he is.
The paragraphs in IW for the most part are short , almost staccato in rhythm. This is an unusual pattern in the books I normally read and it appealed to me to echo Guerrieri’s fragmented life.
I thought the author was skilled in portraying Guerrieri’s gradual realization of what he needed to do to pull himself out of his depression. I appreciated his gift to his ex-wife of saying that they had had a good life together and that their time together was worth something.
I learned interesting information about the Italian legal system.
It is hard to compare a crime mystery to a legal thriller, but maybe the best I can do is say that Leon’s book deals with how Brunetti discovers who did it, whereas Carofiglio’s book deals with the mystery of how Guerrieri is going to free his client.
Having said all that perhaps choosing Andrea Camilleri’s books to compare to Leon’s books might have made a better choice. If there are enough people who don’t like Carofiglio’s books then maybe that is the way to go.
Death in a Strange Country just came off hold for me from Overdrive, so I have it downloaded to my Kindle and will probably start it later this week. I have a book I just started today and another book I want to read before I start the next Guido.
>101 dallenbaugh: Donna, I had decided that I wasn't going to be able to fit Carofiglio's books into my reading this year, mainly because I was finding them difficult to find. But based on everything I am reading here about the type of book it is - I think that I am going to be more proactive in trying to get a copy. What I am hearing sounds intriguing to me - what you and Benita and Tina have written has piqued my interest!
I didn't love Involuntary Witness, but I didn't hate it, either. I was curious about this series because I have long-time friends who have lived near Bari for several decades. I was disappointed that there wasn't more local color. I don't think the book is particularly well-written. Whether it's the fault of the author or the translator I can't say. I'll give the second book a go since it's available to me locally. If there isn't a noticeable improvement in the quality of the writing in the second book, I won't be going out of my way to seek out other books in the series either by purchase or ILL. That means I'll be skipping #3 and #5 since they're not held by either library I use.
I do think that translation has much to do with what I thought of the book. It was a little rough. I noticed the staccato rhythm as well. I try to read several translated books per year in order to widen my world-wide perspective. I noted that yesterday I heard on NPR that the National Book Award is adding an award to the four that they currently give out. That one is going to be for translation.
This is from the Publisher's Weekly announcement on January 31. "The National Book Award for Translated Literature will honor both the author and translator (or translators) of the awarded work, and aims, the Foundation said, "to broaden readership for global voices and spark dialogue around international stories." It will join the other four categories—fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and young people’s literature—as a permanent prize. This is only the second time in a quarter-century that a prize category has been added to the National Book Awards, following the 1996 debut of the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature."
The link to the article is here. https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/awards-and-prizes/article/75947-national-book-award-for-translation-added.html
There are couple of caveats in the award. The award goes both to the author and the translator and both have to be living. For instance, the Seamus Heany translation of the Iliad wouldn't be eligible. Neither would the translations of Jose Saramago's work. But those of Elena Ferrante would be.
The vote was by the Board of Directors of the National Book Award and the vote had to be unanimous in order for the award to become a reality. It was.
It now March 1, 2018 and time to switch from one Guido to the other. This month we will be reading and discussing Death in a Strange Country. This is the second in the Guido Brunetti series by the American expatriot Donna Leon, who currently lives in Venice.
There are plenty of used copies available from the usual used copy sources (Amazon, Alibris, Abe Books, Book Depository, etc.) and the book has been translated into several languages. It is available as a hardback and as a paperback. It has been done as a recorded book, but there are only about 100 libraries listed as owning the recorded version worldwide.
Death in a Strange Country was first published in 1993, one year after Death at La Fenice. For this novel the author has taken the readers to another of the places for which Venice is famous, the canals. The opening scene and setting for the murder at the heart of this mystery is one of the canals of Venice that are full of polluted water and in need of repair. In 2013 the city of Venice attempted to ban the entrance of large cruise ships visiting the city. Only cruise ships smaller than 40,000-gross tons would have been allowed to enter the Giudecca Canal and St Mark's basin. In January of 2015 this ban was overturned and larger cruise ships were allowed to return. However, several of the largest cruise ship companies had already removed stops to Venice from the schedules and diverted ships to other venues. (Don't you love that word venue? It makes it sound like Venice is a Disney attraction.) In late 2014 the United Nations warned the city that it might be placed on UNESCO's list of World Heritage In Danger sites unless cruise ships are banned from the canals near the historic center of the city.
The problem caused by the cruise ships has to do with their size and with water. The huge ships displace huge amounts of water that the canal system in Venice was never designed to handle. This in turn as caused rapid deterioration of the canal walls caused by the oversize wakes created by these gigantic machines along with backing up water into smaller canals which caused flooding in some residential areas that were not flood prone before the advent of these titanic ships. The large ships screws also were proved to be damaging the foundation pilings upon which the city was built. I had seen a recent infographic showing the size of a modern cruise ship next to St. Mark's and the ship dwarfed the church. You can go to Google Images, Pinterest, or even YouTube and look at the shocking size of these behemoths compared to the local sights.
In addition to the problems in the canals the giant cruise ships have been criticized for creating air and water pollution problems. Water pollution has lead to the almost complete breakdown in local fish stocks to the point where local fishing is almost extinct.
In November of 2017 the Italian government issued a ban on cruise ships larger 55,000 tons. These ships will be required to follow a specified path through another canal to a new passenger port to be built in Marghera, an industrial area of the mainland. From there they will off-load passengers to smaller local boats and be ferried into the historic parts of the city. The new passenger terminal is under construction but it is not yet done, so in the meantime, it is another reason for the ships to avoid the city.
I am looking forward to starting the book tonight. I did not have a local copy of this title available except to purchase so I choose to use Inter-Library Loan to get the book. I put in my request a week ago, and picked up the book last night. It came all the way to The University of Alabama from Texas A & M.
Happy Reading everybody.
>106 benitastrnad: Thanks, Benita, for giving us that great information. I wasn't even aware that cruise ships were allowed to visit Venice.
I have read the first several chapters of the book and was amused to read of Brunetti’s aversion to the water of the canal. It seems that even in 1993 the water was dangerously polluted. At least in Guido’s view, to the point were he wrote a commendation in the official report to note that the two policemen had actually gotten into the water of the canal in case there was hope that it was a rescue operation and not a retrevial operation.
>106 benitastrnad: Thanks for all the background info B. I am about 50 pages in. Happy to be back in Venice.
Ch 5 -- So a side comment on Jane Eyre. If you haven't read that book yet, this is a major plot reveal. Guido has just had a conversation with his daughter who is rooting for the
>110 Berly: Kim, I also noted that comment, and I thought the same thing. I haven't come to that realization yet, so I was also surprised and wondered if I were alone in feeling that way, or whether I've been missing something all these years. Perhaps a reread of Jane Eyre is due?
I finished Death in a Strange Country on Sunday, but I'll reserve my comments until a little later. I'm going to have to go somewhere and write them now so that I remember them when it is time.
I noticed this comment as well. I liked the humor in that much better than the humor in other parts of the book. So far.
I read Jane Eyre a few years ago, and it took me a long time to crawl through the book. It was not what I expected. I thought the plot predictable, but then I had to back up and think - well, when it was written the plot devices wouldn't have been cliches, because it was the first novel to use them.
Having no english lit expertise ( I was a math major ) I did not pick up the same vibes on the Jane Eyre discussion. I understood the literary allusions, and it may be the fact that I am re-reading this series and have come to "know" and very much like Paola and Chiara over many years of acquaintance, left me chuckling at the discussion.
>114 tututhefirst: And isn't it fun how we can come to "know" and very much like characters in our favorite series when we've been reading them for a long time?
I'm still just trying to figure out why Paola, the literature teacher, would think
I think the self-righteous part is that in the end Jane leads Rochester to believe that she will stay with him, but she ends up in India with the preacher? Doesn’t she? Or am I misremembering?
>117 benitastrnad: Benita, it's been a really long time since I last read the book, but I think
I suppose that one might say she was self-righteous because
I had Death in a Strange Country on the shelf, and galloped through it this week. I didn't remember a lot of the details from my last read, many years ago, but
>119 ffortsa: Judy, I am in total agreement. I was enjoying the book
I need to read Involuntary Witness - these books have started me thinking about justice and the legal systems in other countries. Of course, I suppose I know how the US legal system works (theoretically) and I've read enough books and seen enough movies that I feel that I have some handle on the British legal system (at least when it comes to murder), but I realize I have no clue about how things work in other countries (unfortunately that's probably a typical American thing.) My husband's cousin and her family (she's American, he's Italian) live in Italy, and we occasionally hear about the corruption in the Italian political system. I guess I'm not surprised that corruption in one area of government would carry over into other parts of government.
Leon has taken on some very weighty topics for her novels so far, and I think it's fascinating to see her perspective. Certainly, both issues are more far-reaching than a simple murder in Venice. I have to wonder if her novels are intended as much as political commentary as they are the entertainment of a murder mystery.
Robin, I totally agree that Donna Leon's books definitely reflect her take on the Venetian (and perhaps entire Italian) attitude toward crime. Definitely different than the more uptight dog with a bone outlook we are more accustomed too. It becomes more apparent as the series progresses. I can't wait to get to the introduction of Senorina Electra (I believe it's book 4). Stick with it, the ride gets even better.
I finished the book this morning at breakfast and I liked it. However, enough of the “Pink Panther “ routine. Every time that there is an exchange between Brunetti and Patta I feel like I am seeing Peter Sellers. The buffonary is overwhelming in those scenes. These aren’t meant to be comedies and there isn’t much purpose to them.
So back to good ol' Jane. I have never thought of her as
And then about Guido...
>123 Berly: I'm right there with you about Jane, I was just trying to think of reasons as to why Donna Leon would see her that way and >118 rretzler: was the only thing I could come up with that made any sense to me whatsoever.
Yes, I get the sense that Italy is definitely a much different place compared to the US or British mysteries that I usually read. I have to wonder if that is what it is like in RL, or just Leon's novels.
The dumping of the heroin that early in the story surprised me. I wondered if Guido knew something I didn't. I thought perhaps he was being framed and then I thought that he was supposed to find it and make a big deal of it so that Foster would be accused of being a drug dealer. However, that wouldn't work because by that time the robbery of the paintings had already taken place and I knew that was part of the plot, so I let it ride. It was a good clue as to the character of the people involved in the case, including Guido's.
>123 Berly: >125 benitastrnad: I also wondered if it weren't an attempt to frame Guido, especially if he decided to go after the wrong (i.e., guilty) people.
It also surprised me that
I'm joining you all for ONE of the two Guido's. My library only has the Donna Leon, so I'm following that series with you, and really enjoying it so far. I'm not into opera, so I enjoyed the 2nd Leon better than the first.
Appreciated your random thoughts at >77 tututhefirst: , Tina!
Accidentally joined you all this month, as I read the second Brunetti, I read the first one last year. I loved to read all the comments and now I have to get to Jane Eyre one day ;-)
Now I will probably go and read ahead, I am liking Guido Brunetti!
ETA: The books remind me a bit of David Hewson's Nic Costa series, also a police man, but situated in Rome. Two books in that series the maincharacters travel to Venice.
>128 FAMeulstee: Now I have to read the Nic Costa series. The first book isn't available at the library, so I ordered a copy through Paperback Swap. This is a dangerous thread.
What did everyone think of the title for this second book? Who was in the strange country? Brunetti? Foster? Peters? Signore Ruffolo?
I thinik the strange country referred to the Americans who were in Italy. The tension between the American Authorities and the Italians was definitely a strong factor in the story. I know I read someplace that Donna Leon was once a professor at the university on the American base at Aviano; hence her familiarity with the procedures and some of the friction that can exist in situations like this. Having been a military spouse at overseas bases where we lived "off-base" and had to be subject to both the local laws, but also carried passports that made us subject to "status of forces" agreements, I could relate to alot of the angst in this one. Not sure I was happy with the outcome, and I'm not sure where I want to place the blame, but it was a great read.
But now that I re-read your question Benita, I think that all your mentioned characters were operating in Strange Countries - at least as far as culture and expectations were concerned. I think Brunetti, by virtue of his education, linguistic skills and training sojourn in the US, was more at ease than the rest.
Great insights, Tina.
I also was not happy with the outcome in this one, but I suppose it couldn't have gone any other way.
I was struck by the idea of what is a strange country right at the beginning of the novel. On page 25 of my hardback copy there is a conversation between Brunetti and the Doctor who does the autopsy on Foster. The conversation goes like this:
"I hope you find out who he is so you can send him home. It's no good thing, to die in a strange country." Brunetti replies "Thanks Ettore,. I'll do my best to find out who he is. And send him home."
Later in the story this thinking comes up again with the murder/death of Dr. Peters. Brunetti wants to send her home to her family and somehow let them know that she didn't commit suicide, but he knows that is not possible.
The strange country again reared its head when Bruentti first goes to visit the Widow Ruffolo. There is the language barrier and the cultural customs barrier. Brunetti has lost patience with his fellow officers who refuse to deal with the Signora because she is strange and they can't understand her. At the end his sadness about her and the fact that she finally resorted to a local cultural solution to the problem really struck home the strange country idea.
On another note is it is time to start thinking about getting our next book. It is "A Walk in the Dark" by Gianrico Carofiglio. I had to get this one via InterLibrary Loan as it wasn't any place close. It is available for purchase from Amazon, and there are a few used copies available. It may take some time to find this title, so we will need to start now.
I recently finished the second Donna Leon book and enjoyed it a little more than the first. I think that books in a series tend to get more interesting as we get more acquainted with the recurring characters.
A few random thoughts...I found the Jane Eyre comment amusing, although I don't agree with Paola's assessment of Jane. I also wondered what was going on with the teenage son? The usual teenage male angst or something more sinister… I wasn't crazy about the way Americans on foreign soil were portrayed, although having lived on Army bases in Germany at two different periods in my life, I do think we were isolated into a micrcosm of America on a different continent. It's interesting to me that Leon is an expat so she knows what she's writing about. Oh, and those filthy canals. Ugh!
Here are the brief comments I just posted on my thread:
"It would have been easy for Brunetti to grow inifferent to the beauty of the city, to walk in the midst of it, looking and not really seeing. But then it always hapened: a window he had never noticed before would swim into his ken, or the sun would gleam in an archway, and he would actually feel his heart tighten in response to something infinitely more complex than beauty…He had never spoken of this to anyone. No foreigner would understand; any Venetian would find it redundant." (57)
This mystery series is growing on me. Not so much for the mysteries but for the lovely descriptions of Venice and the development of Brunetti's character, a hardworking police detective who cares about his family and friends as well as the victims of the crimes he encounters. Number Two in the series opens with the investigation of the body of an American Army Sergeant found floating in one of the canals. I was honestly surprised about the twist in the motive for the murder. Did not see that coming. I'm looking forward to reading more of these books with the group here on LT."
If any of you have access to Hoopla through your library: I found the April book, A Walk in the Dark by Carofiglio, in the Hoopla collection.
Our local library has a copy of the second Carofiglio book, but I didn't like the first one well enough to continue the series. It would be like torturing myself unnecessarily.
>137 thornton37814: i often try the 2nd book in a series when i dont like the first. So glsd i did, because a walk in the dark was MUCH better than the first. For those of us who are huge brunetti fans, Guido guierro trakes some getting used too, but im coming around. Do try #2. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
>138 tututhefirst: I just don't like lawyer books that much. I really detested the first one that much!
Translators can make a difference. I noticed earlier this year that the National Book Awards will be adding a fifth award this year. For the first time a translator will get an award. The prize will be given for the best translated work of fiction or non-fiction translated into English and published in the current year. The award will honor both translator and the original author. To read more about this new award you can go to this page on the National Book Foundations web page.
A good translation can make all the difference. I remember reading an article several years ago written by Jose Saramago when the person who translated his book Blindness died. It was that article that made me think about how important the art of translating a book is. It is not just translating the words. I found this quote in an article I had read some time ago about translation. " What matters ultimately is the flow of the text. Is there a vital voice behind the writing, is that how the original author would write were he or she writing in English? A translator cannot be a neutral conduit through which language passes. The best translations have the stamp of individuality on them, but a dual individuality - that of author and translator. A good literary translation should have a new personality composed of those two individuals." This comes from an article by Margaret Jull Costa. The article is "On Translation, and on Translating Saramago in Particular" and it was published in Portuguese Studies Vol. 15 (1999), pp. 207-215. (You can tell I was reading about Saramago when I was looking at translation and how it affects the work of the author.)
I think that one of the big differences between the Two Guidos we are studying this year is translation. Translation of a novel, but also translation of a culture. How are the two authors we are reading portraying Italy to us?
I got my copy of the book and started reading last night. To my amazement the book starts out with Guido and Margherita in a very domestic scene where they are talking about a book Guido is reading. The specific poem is one titled "Ithaka" by Constantin Cavafy.
Cavafy is a famous Greek poet. He didn't like to publish his poetry. Instead he shared it in local newspapers and magazines, and even printed it out himself and gave it away. His most important poems were written after he was 40 and they were not gathered together and published until about 2 years after his death. He was unknown during his lifetime by his countrymen and until the publication of his poems in an anthology after his death, his work was not recognized.
I was unaware of this poet and his work until a few weeks ago, when a fellow LT member (Chatterbox) posted his poem "Ithaka" at the start of her current thread. Then soon after that, there was a mention of Cavafy and his work on another LT thread. Then I read this poem right at the beginning of an Italian mystery/legal thriller about a month after that. This is almost to much of a coincidence. Technically, this poem is about Odysseus and his journey, but to me it is about travel in general, and about the journey of life. I hope you enjoy reading the full poem as much as I did.
Since Carafiglio doesn't give us the complete version of "Ithaka" here it is.
by C.P. Cavafy
As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.
Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you’re seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.
Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you’re destined for.
But don’t hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you’re old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you’ve gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn't have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you’ll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.
I love it that Guido Guerrieri is such a literary person. The literary coincidences keep coming in this novel. In the first Guerrieri book Guido did lots of reading, and in this book he talks about what he is reading quite often.
Last fall, my local PBS station showed the BBC production of "The Durrells in Corfu" as part of the Sunday night Masterpiece line-up of programs. The series is based on the book about the Durrell family by Gerald Durrell. I had never heard of the Durrell family and didn't know that the family was packed with famous authors. I just thought the program was amusing. It was only after I started watching it that I realized that the show was based on a book.
Towards the beginning of our current Guerrieri novel, Guido mentions that he is reading My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. Guido considers Gerald to be a much more amusing author than his stuffy older brother Laurence. Laurence Durrell That statement made me laugh as that is just the way Larry is played on the Masterpiece production of the Durrells in Corfu, even though he is the one who gets into trouble with the Greek widow and has many other romantic escapades.
I was rather irritated with the LT downtime this weekend. I had so much I wanted to tell you guys but now have forgotten parts of it.
I did want to say that reading My Family and Other Animals is destined by the stars. While doing my cooking for the next week, this weekend, I was listening to my podcasts. One of them is the New York Times Book Review podcast. Back in March 15 podcast one of the contributors had turned to some light and fun reading as a form of relief from the heavy stuff she was reading. That book was, My Family and Other Animals. She spoke about the book, the author, the Durrell family, and the PBS series, which I have also watched. As much as I resisted I got hit by a book bullett.
>145 benitastrnad: >146 benitastrnad: I watched "The Durrells in Corfu" on PBS when it was first shown and thought it was marvelous. I also ended up buying My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell and The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell as well. I have yet to read either of them though.
I really may have to rethink my decision not to read the Guido Guerrieri part of this challenge because it sounds more and more as if I would really enjoy the books. After I get all my ARC reading done, I'll have to try to get caught up.
This morning I had a conversation with a colleague about our supervisors being advocates for us when it comes to dealing with people higher up than us. In the course of this conversation I told her about my reading the Guido Guerrieri series and the way the first book in that series spoke about Guerrieri being an advocate. It was clear that the term was a little different than out term for lawyer in that the advocate is between the criminal and the law. The advocate tries to deflect and mitigate punishment or harm. They also make arguments justifying how people reacted in certain situations as well as promoting ideas and alternative ways of doing things. I wish my supervisor was more of an advocate. Oh well.
>148 benitastrnad: I hear you! I'm happy to be in a small library, where there isn't a lot of bureaucracy. I'm really the supervisor of everyone, with only the Board holding higher power. I do my best to be very supportive of my staff -- so far, I've not needed to advocate for anyone except occasionally with irate patrons.
I am slowly making my way through the April selection. It's been a busy month, so not a lot of time for reading, except for my textbook and book discussion selection, and some audios (and finishing off things started in March). But part of the slowness is the book itself. I agree that it's much better than the first in the series, but it still has not really captured my interest all that much. I am really not much into legal procedurals, if that's what you'd call it.
It doesn't help that I can't get the e-book to work on my tablet now, so am stuck reading the tiny print on my phone. The last Hoopla update made the text size adjustment on both devices inoperative. Grrrrr.....
Things have been rather quite on the thread this month. I have a few things to say about the book, but I left my notes at home, so it will have to wait for later tonight. I am at Barnes & Noble this morning having my Sunday morning hazelnut cappuccino, and forgot to bring the book with me.
May 1st is two days away and it will be time for us to return to our other Guido. Guido Brunetti. The book for May will be Dressed For Death by Donna Leon. I put in my Itner-Library Loan request for this title just now, so I will probably get it in a week or so. That will put me a little behind of most of you this month, but I am sure that I will catch up.
It is finals week here at The University of Alabama and so tonight I will be doing my End-Of-Semester Read Aloud for the students in the Teacher Education Program in the College of Education. The theme this semester is “It’s A Box.” I am going to read aloud the children’s book Not A Box by Antoinette Portis. It was a Caldecott Honor Book in 2018. I am going to show how you can take a book written on a pre-school level and up that by using math activities to 3rd or 4th grade. We are going to build a cardboard box house. It is amazing how may math skills you have to use to do that!
Once that is over, my semester is over and I can start doing my other library work. Like book inventory and ordering the new books so they will be here in August. Yeah!
This last week I attended a presentation of a semester long project for an upper level English course. In that presentation the students told how they did their research and built a web site on the information that they found. One student told about his amazing discovery of Inter-Library Loan. He had no idea that libraries would allow you to borrow books from other libraries all across the country. It was just like Christmas waiting for his requests for books and microfilm.
I agree with him. Inter-library loan is amazing.
If you have questions about using ILL (Inter-Library Loan) post them here and I’ll do my best to answer them. However, you will need to check with your local library to find out their specific policies and procedures. But please don’t hesitate to use this service. Libraries are there to be used.
>152 tymfos: One of my favorite aspects of library work is doing Inter-Library Loan. I used to assist the ILL coordinator on a regular basis, but my current job has me doing much less of that, and I miss it. It's fascinating to see where our books go, and where books come from for our patrons to use, and some of the interesting requests that come in. When people ask for a book and we don't have have it, we always ask if they want us to get it from another library (a patron-friendly way of saying ILL), stressing that it's a free service. Sometimes they say, "Oh, we don't want you to go to all that trouble..." and we say, "It's not a problem -- we like doing it!"
I finished A Walk in the Dark. Toward the end, I got really drawn into the story. This is what I wrote on my thread:
This is the second in Carofiglio's series about Sicilian attorney Guido Guerrieri. In this case, he is up against the son of a powerful judge, as he seeks justice for the former lover the man abused and stalked. This was much better than the first installment; I was still slow to "get into" the story, but toward the end, the story was riveting. It's also interesting to see how very different the legal system is; the same trial addressed both the criminal charges, prosecuted by a magistrate, and the civil charges, brought by the victim and represented by Guerrieri.
I think part of the "problem" with this series is I go into the book in a "legal thriller" or "legal procedural" mindset, but that's not really what these books are (though the ending of this one certainly had a high suspense level.) They are as much about Guido's life-in-general as about his legal practice, and have something of a literary fiction approach to the issues of life and mortality. I don't know that I'm saying that correctly. They spend much more time focused on Guido's life outside of his cases than the typical legal or police procedural, and touch on the "big picture" issues of life very poignantly, like
I have noticed that about the inclusion of events and feelings from Guido's life being included in the story as well. His regrets about decisions he has made or not made all enter into how he practices his daily life. These in turn have an effect on the story. I thought it was interesting that the title for this novel came from that real life situation as much as it did from the criminal events.
This is our last day with Guido Guerrieri - until June. I am not sure how many readers are still with us, but I found this second Guerrieri novel a much more rewarding read. I think I have become more accustomed to the writing style and the characters. I knew nothing about Carofiglio before reading these two novels and I am thankful that I have been exposed to him. At this point he is not my favorite legal procedural author, but he is growing on me. I think I will stick around for the third book.
I am not sure who originally suggested Carofiglio as our contrasting author with Donna Leon, but it has turned out to be quite a big contrast. It may not have been a good selection from a comparative point-of-view, but it sure opened my eyes to the way things work in the Italian legal system, as well as to some insights into daily Italian life. It has become very obvious to me that the Italians are faced with the same social issues that we have here in the U. S. Bari isn't much different than is Atlantic City, New Jersey - except for the way the lawyers do their work.
Since this is the last day with Guerrieri I am going to post here the review that I posted on my book page.
This is book 2 in the Guido Guerrieri mystery series, translated from the Italian. This series is a hit mysteries in Europe. In the U. S. I would not call them mysteries. They are more in the line of a Perry Mason thriller as all of the heavy hitting action takes place in court. Guerrieri is a defense lawyer and he is good at it. In book one, he suffered through a mid-life crises and in this second book he has straightened his life out, and then is hit hard again when a high school friend of his commits suicide at the same time that he has taken on a difficult case. The case is about sexual abuse, stalking, and a man with control issues. The way Guerrieri handles the case is just brilliant, but there is a surprise ending. I did find the inserts a bit disconcerting as I wasn't sure how they fit into the novel. It took me some time to figure out who was speaking these parts and why they were included. This was a satisfying read and once again very insightful about how the Italian legal system works. I am beginning to like this guy and this author, but I admit that it took some getting accustomed to a difference in style and a different kind of hero.
I'm about a third of the way through Dressed for Death. It's my outdoor reading book, in PB. I'm home all month on short term disability after neck/chest surgery and the weather has been gorgeous and so I'm getting some Donna Leon reading in.
I read book #2 in 2016. Not sure why I forget to advance in this series because I do like them and there are plenty more of these to read.
I'm hoping to continue with you this year for the Donna Leon books in July, Sept, and Nov.
I requested Dressed For Death from Interlibrary Loan and it hasn’t come in yet. I took time and looked for it at our local used book store, but they didn’t have a copy so I will just have to wait.
I still don't have my copy of this book to read, but I did take a look at the blurb about the title that is found on Amazon. This novel starts out in the commune of Marghera. Marghera is a borough of Venice. It has a population of 30,000. The name comes from the fact that the area comprising the present city was once a Marine swamp. In the Venetian dialect the word Marghera - Mar gh era - means "there was the sea."
Marghera serves as the port city for Venice. It is a new city, started by the Italian government in 1917 and designed with the idea that it would be the industrial part with a corresponding port for the city of Venice. This was done in order to preserve the historical old city of Venice as a tourist asset. It took about ten years to build and develop the modern city of Marghera and it has become well known for its chemical factories, the first of which began operation in 1923.
Marghera is not at all what most Americans think of when they think of Venice. However, it is where most of the people in Venice and the surrounding areas work.
just got my ILL of Dressed for Death yesterday. I had read it several years ago, and am looking forward to a re-read. I remebered enough of it that when we took the train last year from Florence to Venice, I was able to look out one side of the train and see Mestre (an area featured in a couple of Leon's books) and on the other side look off to an industrialized looking area of Marghera and I remembered reading about it. Now it will bring an AHA moment. Can't wait to get started.
Yesterday I had a conversation with a random person at the library and I mentioned this mystery comparison group read about two different areas in Italy. This person then told me about how reading the mysteries of Michael Dibdin got them started on reading Donna Leon. They then told me how much they liked the Leon mysteries because she always leaves something unresolved in the novel. I guess we will have to see what is unresolved in this novel.
Playing catch-up here. Just finished the second Donna Leon, which I had to wait for in e-book format from the library. Have read the first two in each series now. Agree that they are very different styles, but I like both.
I read this month's Leon installment not too long ago, too recent to want to do a re-read. I'll follow along the discussion here and join in if I think of anything to add.
I am still waiting on ILL and can't figure out what the holdup is for this title. I know that our ILL person once told me that sometimes older popular titles can be hard to get because public libraries weed fiction collections and academic libraries don't get as many fiction titles to start with. However, I didn't think it would be 15 days from my request time. In the world of today's ILL that is a long time.
>164 benitastrnad: It took more than a month for the digital copy of Death in a Strange Country to become available for me- now waiting for the paper copy of Dressed for Death. There is only one in our county system.
I finally got notified that my ILL request for Dressed For Death came in. I will pick it up on the way home from work today and start on it this evening.
I finally have a good start on Dressed For Death. One of the things that makes this Guido such a remarkable character is that he has some real compassion. I noticed this when he "dressed down" the policeman for his attitude about the murder victim.
Later in the novel I noticed this passage (page 38 in my trade paperback edition that came all the way from U-Mass Amherst)
"To the best of his knowledge, there were not transvestites in Venice who worked as prostitutes. There was, however, at least one transsexual, and Brunetti knew of this person's existence only because he had once had to sign a letter attesting that Emilio Maracato had no criminal record, this before Emilia could have the sex listed on her carta d'identita changed to accord with the physical changes already made to her body. He had no idea of what urges or passions could lead a person to make a choice so absolutely final; he remembered, though, disturbed and moved to an emotion he had chosen not to analyze by that mere alteration of a single letter on an official document: Emilio - Emilia." I had a similar experience at the place in which I work. In this case Jeremy to Jennifer.
Just finished Dressed for Death. Absolutely loved it and hope to read the next in the series very soon.
It is close to the end of the month and so I sent my Inter-Library Loaned copy of Dressed for Death back to ILL. Now it is time to start thinking about next month so I put in my request for the next Gianrico Carofiglio novel Reasonable Doubts. I thought I was going to get luck as my local public library had this title listed as part of their collection. However, there was no call number on the page, so I called them to find out how to get this title. It turns out that they had it, but it had been weeded and withdrawn, so no book for me to check out. Once again I have to turn to my trusty ILL department. I placed my request on Friday, so I hope it gets here faster than Dressed for Death did.
I am wondering how many of you are still reading the Carofiglio books? I think there are three of us still on board. Would any of you be interested in reading a different author, but still keeping the setting in Italy? We could switch to the Aurelio Zen novels by Michael Dibdin for the rest of the year - if those would be of more interest. There are 11 titles in that series and I think they would pair well with the Donna Leon novels. Let me know what you think and in the meantime, I will wait upon the arrival of Reasonable Doubts.
I also wanted to mention that I have noted that Guido Brunetti is very concerned about the pollution that surrounds Venice and fills its water. I have also noticed that he complains in every novel about the tourists renting the available apartments and thus tying up much of the living space in the city without the residents actually living there. His vituperative thoughts about the professor and his wife from Milan who only live in the city for two months out of the year, but have the apartment rented for the entire year, was very funny and yet so sad. The very thing that attracts people to the city, the atmosphere of history and culture created by those who live there, may be the very thing that kills it. His comment about few children found inside the city limits is telling. I suspect that it is too expensive to rent or buy apartments inside of Venice so most of them live on the mainland and come into the city to work. It is the story of gentrification all over the world.
I’m continuing the Carofiglio books, which I have access to via Hoopla, but am open to the group doing something different.
>169 benitastrnad: While I'm not continuing to read the Carofiglio books, I probably can't commit to more than every other month for the challenge. I think you should keep Carofiglio this year, and if you want to introduce another author, perhaps the challenge could be called something besides the "two Guidos" for next year. I suspect most of us who jumped ship already found other things to fill the void this year.
I'm still reading both series and enjoying both, just not posting much.
I have to admit that Venice no longer sounds like a city I would like to visit after reading Leon.
I'm also still reading the Carofiglio books, and would prefer to stay with those. I do remember dipping into the Aurelio Zen books a couple years ago, and was not impressed at all. There is also the Inspector Montalbano series by Andrea Camillieri set in Sicily.
OK. Our June read will be Reasonable Doubts by Gianrico Carofiglio. My ILL copy still hasn't arrived, but as soon as it does I will return to the environs of southern Italy and read the book.
I have enjoyed learning from this series, and an entirely new author - to me at least. It is a very different style of writing and that makes life interesting for a reader.
I just finished listening to Dressed for Death and found I didn't enjoy it as much as the previous two Leon books. Perhaps I'll make more of an effort to get further copies of the series in print. No one else mentions it so I must be the only one who found the much-repeated term 'transvestite whores' offensive. I would probably haven't noticed it as much had I been reading rather than listening. The reader was very expressive and I could hear the sneer in his voice whenever he spat out the words!
I listen to lots of books and I find that the narrator/reader influences what I think about a book. There are some readers that I enjoy listening to more than others, but it is always of interest to me where the reader puts there emphasis and why. It goes to show just how much of communication isn't just the words. It is also tone and inflection.
It seems to be one of the points of the book, that most people that Brunetti knew and worked with didn't think of the victims as people that they should care about. They were just "transvestite whores." Brunetti and the Sargent (I can't remember his name right now) treated all of the victims as if they were people they cared about and as a result got the cooperation of that community in solving the case. I wonder if the reader put the same amount of contempt into the term "banker?" It was clear from the book that Brunetti thought that Bankers as a group were bad people and lower than the "transvestite whores."
Sorry not to have posted earlier. I found the second Carofiglio didn't suit my mood, and put it aside, but I may return to it. I have the Brunetti series and will try to catch up by rereads.
I got my ILL copy of Reasonable Doubts and picked it up Friday. It is a short book. A little less than 250 pages. I read it over the weekend. Finished it. I thought it was very good. I even had to laugh as Perry Mason is mentioned in it.
This entry in the series has more about the city of Bari. Several different neighborhoods in the city are mentioned as are some local landmarks. One of them is a bookstore/coffee shop that opens in the evening and closes in the morning. Even the art scene in Bari is discussed.
Two weeks ago I ordered a book that had good reviews. It is a combination travelogue and cookbook on Italy. When I looked at it this weekend I was pleasantly surprised. Eating My Way Through Italy by Elizabeth Minchilli has two chapters on Bari. The first chapter is title “The Bari Chronicles: Eating Fish with Nonna” and is all about the fish market. This is the introduction to that chapter.
For the last twenty-five years whenever I mention to an Italian that I am going to Bari, nine out of ten times s they respond with the rhyme: “se Parigi averse I’ll mare, sarebbe una piccola Bari.” Translation: If Paris was on the sea, it would be a little Bari.” It’s just one of those phrases that most Italians know, and repeat, without ever really thinking about it or having any sort of opinion about how ridiculous that is. A small provincial city in the south of Italy being compared to The City of Lights. And frankly, they really don’t have any basis to form an opinion because I can guarantee you that most of them are more likely to have visited Paris in their lifetime than Bari. Bari is a provincial city in a far-flung province. And while Puglia has gained in popularity as a tourist destination over the last twelve years or so, Bari never quite makes the bucket list, which is sad because Bari is pretty fantastic.”
The author goes on to say that the fish market in Bari is a must see for tourists as it is as authentic as it gets in Italy. She states that she has never seen a woman purchase anything at the fish market. Men do the shopping at the fish market. “The great thing about this city is that the old fishing port is smack dab in the center of the city. Small wooden boats pull up beneath the massive bulk of the turn-of-the-century Teatro Margherita (it’s new because the old one burned down and was replaced with a great deal of the money needed to build it raised by our author) and the Banca d’Italia. As cars speed by on the Lungomare,/fisherman pull out their fish-filled nets and empty them right onto the elegant paving stones of the sidewalk.” The author says that the fish market is open every day and has an abundance of sea urchins, mussels, and squid, but the best day for fish is on Sunday because the regular fish stores are closed that day.
I think that this is one city I have to put on my bucket list. It sounds to good to be true.
I finished Reasonable Doubts. Here is what I posted on my thread:
Guido is asked to represent a man who confessed to drug smuggling, but says he is innocent -- the the material was in his car, but someone else must have put it there. The man's wife is gorgeous, and Guido finds her irresistible -- which poses a real ethical issue for him.
This series continues to improve. It's not your typical legal thriller, but I don't particularly like typical legal thrillers, so the series is growing on me.
I especially enjoy Guido's comments about books and reading, and about music. I especially liked the late-night bookstore -- the one that's open from 10 p.m. until dawn. Sounds like my kind of place.
I wish I could quote the passage I'm thinking of, but my e-book loan expired 10 minutes after I finished reading the book -- just made it! That I took so long to read it is not a negative reflection on the book, just on how busy I am and other reading commitments (Mudbound for book discussion group, stuff for class, and the exceptional addictiveness of the Connelly Harry Bosch book that I was also reading.)
We are now at the end of the month and it is time to start a new book. Book 4 in the Guido Brunetti series is a bit unique. It has two titles. Death and Judgement or A Venetian Reckoning are the same book. This sometimes happens in the publishing world. A Venetian Reckoning was originally published in Great Britain (those of you who will read this book will notice the British spelling of some words) by Pan Publishing ( a well known British publisher of mysteries. Mostly in paperback.) with the title A Venetian Reckoning in 1995. It was subsequently published in the U. S. in a hardback edition in 1995 by HarperCollins. It was given a different name and another ISBN, even though it is the same book - with the British spellings Americanized.
At this point in time Donna Leon was still an unknown author and her British publisher was the primary publisher and published the book first. They owned rights to the British and European distribution. The rights to the U. S. publication was sold to a U. S. publisher. All of this changed a bit later in Leon's career when her mysteries became popular her books were published in the U. S. first and then overseas.
You can read either book and get the same story. The copy I have obtained through Inter-Library Loan came from the University of Virginia and has the title Venetian Reckoning. I am sure that many of you will be reading Death and Judgement, which has gone through several editions and now carries a different picture on the cover than it did when it was first published. Any of these versions will work as the content is the same in all of them.
Happy Reading and Happy Fourth!
The literary comments that are peppered throughout the Guerrieri books are very interesting. The bring us the picture of a very thoughtful introspective man.
Oooh! I am late in putting my library request in. Crossing my fingers that I get a copy soonish.
I think that reading one and listening to another will work just fine. I have finished reading Venetian Reckoning. Once I got started on it, the book read fairly fast.
I need to finish the Crombie I'm listening to. I should finish this week. Then I'll begin this month's Brunetti (if I can get an audio version). Will check in the next little bit.
ETA: Success. It is checked out.
I read this month's Brunetti not too long ago, so I'll probably just follow along with the comments for July. I'm not wanting to do a reread so soon.
I plan to start Death and Judgement in the next day or two. I read the first few pages with the big truck crash and Romanian women.
My library has been very frustrating on these series- but ABEbooks came through with Venetian Reckoning and the next two Carofiglios. Venetian Reckoning was a quick read- likely because I found the story engaging. It feels good ot be caught up on the group since I fell behind for quite a while.
I'm behind. My library system doesn't carry Carofiglio and the used book of Reasonable Doubts I ordered didn't arrive until recently. I hope to catch up one of these days as I am enjoying the contrast between these two authors.
Glad to hear that you are enjoying the contrast. I find the two series very different and the heroes are the main reason. Two different kinds of men from two different sides of the law in Italy. As you say, quite interesting.
It now the last day of the month and time for us to switch gears and get going on the fourth book in the Guido Guerrieri series by Gianrico Carofiglio. I put in my ILL request for this title last week and I got it yesterday, so I am ready to start reading. Before we go to Guerrieri are they any thoughts about this months selection Venetian Reckoning aka Death and Judgement?
Death and Judgement (Venetian Reckoning) went into territory I am uncomfortable reading about. I love Brunetti but Leon's topics are too dark so I have decided not to read more of her. She paints the layers and layers of corruption pretty heavily as well and there is no good feeling by the ends of the books.
I've fallen way behind, partly because the Carofiglio are hard for me to get, and then hard to read. So I think I'll step out. I've read many of the Leon titles before, and may continue to refresh my memory before deaccessioning the books. Does anyone want them? It may take me a while to go through them, considering the unread books on the shelf.
OK - got a coincidental story for all of you.
On Sunday I was at Fresh Foods getting a few supplies and decided to get a gelato. I ate it at one of the booths by the cash registers. I was about 50 pages into Temporary Perfections. I must have been really into the novel.
I woman who walked by stopped and asked me what I was reading? I told her. She said that Carofiglio was an author that she had never heard of. She wanted to know more about him and his work because it was clear that I was really absorbed in the book. I told her about our compare and contrast study of Leon and Carofiglio. She had never heard of either author!
From there I told her about our group. We ended up talking about Carofiglio and she wrote down his name. I told her she would probably have a hard time finding his books but that Amazon had them.
Reading in public has its rewards.
I have made a good start in the new Carofiglio book, Temporary Perfections. On page 21 of this novel I found the following passage.
"When you argue before the Court of Cassation, the first thing you do is rent a black robe. The dress code of Italy's highest court requires that all lawyers wear a black robe, but - except for lawyers who practice in Rome - almost no one actually owns one. And so you have to rent one, as if you were acting in a play or attending a Carnival masquerade party."
I wonder why most of the European law courts require lawyers and judges to dress up for the occasion, often in robes. Sometimes, in the case of English courts, and maybe German? wigs. All of that makes the system very different from what I am accustomed to in this country. Of course, I haven't seen the inside of many courtrooms in real life - only on TV and the movies.
I am now about 100 pages into the novel and this book seems to have much more in it about Guido's professional life. Life has brought about some changes. He has moved his offices and in one place in the book a client remarks that the offices seem to be very American. He has expanded his business and now has two lawyers working for him, one of them his former secretary who has graduated from law school and has become one of his lawyers. He has taken on the daughter of a friend and is training her to be a defense attorney, and he has a new secretary who is very competent and doesn't need training. Life - is moving along for him.
I finally finished Death and Judgment.
>201 Berly: I understand you feel that way, Kim, but I am afraid irl it happens very often...
>202 FAMeulstee: Absolutely, which is why I like my book detectives to win in the end! : )
It is the last week of August and we should be thinking about finding our copies of the next book on the list Acqua Alta by Donna Leon. I had to put in an ILL request to get it because neither the UA library or the public library had a copy. It may take a week or so to get here, and since I will be on vacation in September I will have a good book to take with me.
I enjoyed Temporary Perfections but found it to be quite different from the previous books in the Guido Guerrieri series. This one was more like a Private Investigator type of mystery than any of the previous entries in the series. In that regard it made it seem more familiar in format and style to me.
Like the previous novels in this series it was very introspective with Guido letting all of his insecurities out there for the reader to learn about. It seems to me that this Guido, unlike Brunetti, is full of self-doubt and middle aged angst. I wonder if the author in some way is trying to tap into, and explain, possible reasons why Italian men aren’t marrying and starting families?
>205 benitastrnad: I agee with your comments. I did enjoy Temporary Perfections more than the previous books in the series.
>204 benitastrnad: I'm doing a happy dance because I actually own a copy of Acqua Alta, and it's the first of the books in the Brunetti series that I haven't already read. So I'll definitely be reading along with the challenge in September!
WOW am I behind!. Just put my request in for ILL on the July book (which I read four years ago) and am downloading the August book as we chat. I own the september book, and have read it twice, but look forward to browsing through it again. I have been junk reading - short chick-lits, DIY articles, and working SUDOKU puzzles. AND.....
getting our house "de=crapped" and sort of trying to do some down-sizing so we can put the Maine house on the market next spring and move back to Virginia to be closer to family (newest grandbaby girl is due late October). We are just getting too old, and arthritis issues are fast creeping up on us, so cutting,hauling wood, plowing and de-icing driveways, and driving 12 hours one way to go to a grandkid's soccer or field hockey game, just ain't cutting it anymore.
Trying to cull 1000 books from our collection of over 4000!!! If anybody wants to look at my library and sees something they'd really like, I'll be happy to send for a small P&H fee. Just don't even have time or energy to put them up on Amazon.
I'll try to chime in with some Guido thoughts in the next month, but I am still enjoying the comparison of the two series.
One other thing I noticed in contrasting the two Guido's. Guido Guerrieri seems to have much in common with Guido Brunetti. Despite the title of this book, they both seem to have a tolerance for people who have made mistakes and admitted them. For instance, there is this passage early in Temporary Perfections:
On the plane, I tried to read, but couldn't. I thought about having to tell my client that in just a few days he would be walking into a prison and staying there for many years. The prospect of that conversation put me in a grim mood of sadness mixed with a brooding sense of humiliation. I know. He was a drug dealer, a criminal, and if they hadn't caught him, he might have gone on selling drugs and profiting from them. But in the years between his arrest and the verdict, he'd become another person. It struck me as intolerable that the past should just leap up, in the form of a cruel, clear-cut verdict, and wreak havoc like that. I thought it was a travesty for this to happen so many years after the fact, and it seemed even more senseless because there was no one to blame.
This tolerance by Guerrieri extends to those with different lifestyles and attitudes. His long conversation with Nadia, the owner of the gay bar, are evidence of that. However, he also can't seem to come to grips with the fact that Nadia, or a woman of that age, might be a suitable partner for him, and assuage some of the great loneliness that he experiences.
As much as I like Guido Guerrieri, I also find him to be a man who needs a kick in the pants and told to start thinking in terms of sharing rather than in terms of sex.
I also find that both Guido's have an endearing streak of self-depreciation and dislike of pretension. Early in Temporary Perfections Guido is describing his new offices. It is a suite. That is professionally decorated. He says, "...I just couldn't get used to the new space. I couldnt' see myself as the kind of professional who had this kind of office. Before I had an office like mine, if I walked into an office like mine, I always assumed the owner was a clueless asshole. Now I was the clueless asshole, and I was having a hard time getting used to it." It sounds just like what Brunetti thinks when he walks into Commissioner Patta's office.
Humph! I thought I had Acqua Alta on my shelf. I really did. But I don't.
However, I managed to snag a copy from Hoopla. That's not my preferred eBook source, because the app gets squirrelly on my old tablet -- suddenly skipping pages to the end of the chapter, freezing, etc. -- but the phone app usually works OK. Actually, it skips a bit too, but not as badly.
I've got Acqua Alta on hold, and I'm next, so hopefully it will arrive soon. In the meantime, I've had a couple other reads for September challenges come in, and I have a couple of short NetGalley offerings to keep me occupied.
>211 thornton37814: I have the TN Reads copy checked out. I’ll start it as soon as I finish my current novel.
>212 cbl_tn: TN Reads had a longer wait than Knox County so I've got the Knox County copy reserved, I believe.
I have been largely absent from LT for the last three weeks. I have been to Kansas and back to be with my mother for a couple of weeks. She needed some help getting home health care set up after her surgery. When I returned to Alabama I promptly got sick with a cold. I am in the process of recovering but I missed more work and so have had to play catch-up there for more reasons than one.
Acqua Alta - this is the name for the exceptionally high tides that strike the northern Adriatic Sea during the autumn and winter months. The floods reach their peak in the Venetian Lagoon due to the position of the lagoon, the shape of the Adriatic Sea, subsidence, and the shallow depth of the water. The Acqua Alta had become worse in modern times due to the accelerated rate of subsidence. (Subsidence is the natural sinking of the soil under a geographical area.) The rate of subsidence in Venice increased due to the increased rate of use of lagoonal water for the chemical manufacturing that dominated industry in the region. This use has slowed and so has the rate of subsidence due to stricter regulation of water use.
The shape of the Adriatic is another underlying cause of the Acqua Alta. Essentially, the Adriatic is a long shallow rectangle that just happens to sit at the right angle in relation to Africa that the hot dry winds that come off of that continent in the winter months drives the sea water ahead of it. This causes the water to pile up in the Adriatic with the result being higher tides than normal. (Much the same phenomenon as a hurricane storm surge.). The combined effects of all of these things, combined with the natural occilations of the moon (the mistress of tides), has created a steadily worsening situation for the residents of Venice.
In the book we are reading several times the sounding of sirens warning the populace about the Acqua Alta is noted. The Hydrographic Office of Venice has been tasked, beginning in 1908, with keeping track of the water levels in the city. After the unprecedented Acqua Alta of 1966 After the unprecedented acqua alta of 1966, the city set up a dedicated service to analyse data, monitor fluctuations, and forecast high tides, which is also charged with continuously keeping the population informed. The Hydrographic Office was renamed Tide Monitoring and Forecast Center in 1980, and absorbed the record-keeping functions of the Hydrographic Office.
There is a fascinating article in Wikipedia about the Acqua Alta. Just look up Acqua Alta and have fun reading. It is clear from the article that the Acqua Alta that Guido experiences in his lifetime is new to Venice. Residents during the age of Venetian glory would not have experienced the high levels of Acqua Alta of modern times.
It is now October and time to move on to the other Guido. It is time for us to find a copy of A Fine Line by Gianrico Carofiglio. This one is available from the usual book sources. This book was translated and published in 2016 by Bitter Lemons Press. Bitter Lemons Press specializes in mysteries and has a small select stable of authors whose work is not translated by the big publishers. I could not find this book in my local libraries so I placed an Inter-Library Loan request for it. It has not arrived yet, but as soon as it does I will start reading. I wonder what this Guido is up to in this last Guido Guerrieri novel. (At least the last to be translated into English.)
All the other books in this series, I was able to get through Hoopla. This one, not so. I put in an ILL request, but there are only 5 libraries in the Pennsylvania "Share it" system who have it. I'm not sure if I'd purchase it, if I can't get it through ILL.
Like everybody else I am having trouble getting this book. I have an ILL request in for it, but if it doesn't come soon I will place an order for it from one of the on-line book sources.
It may be hard to get a Guido Guerrieri book, but there are plenty of Guido Brunetti books so I may just go ahead and read the next one of those this month. When I looked there were 27 of those from which to choose.
So just when I posted this I get a notice that A Fine Line has arrived in ILL. I will pick it up tonight and start reading it.
I have bought most of the GG books, and one of the GBs from abebooks for $ 3 or 4 each. May not work for everyone, but my library system does not have them
>222 tymfos: Helen I see from your profile you live in Pennsylvania. Doesn’t your library participate in PA Share-it for out-of-local-system ILL?
I just got both GG books ILL through my local Maine wide consortium. Figured I'd better grab them while they were available. I'll take my time reading them, especially since I wasn't real thrilled with Temporary Perfections but I'm willing to try to finish the year. I've read all the Brunetti's but have been enjoying the re-reads.
>222 tymfos: yes, tymfos, they do- but out of county it can take a while and I did not feel like being patient. I did not mind buying them, and will donate to teh library for book sale- who knows, maybe they will pick them up for the collection.
Even with my speedy ILL service it took me almost two weeks to get this book. However, I am now well into it - 100 pages, and as usual I am finding the introspective life of Guido to be interesting and dull at the same time.
>225 benitastrnad: "interesting and dull at the same time." A PERFECT Description.
I finished A Fine Line last night. This was the most introspective novel in this series - up to this point. It ended well and Guido had to come to some decisions about his chosen profession. I loved Annapaola. What a wonderful name!
I liked the way this character developed over the series. He lost his wife, but he gained a thriving law practice full of loyal employees who like each other. He got to mentor people new to the profession, but he still has a bite to his personality. He might carry on to many conversations with Mr. Punching Bag - but I understand it. I love his love affair with books, music, and riding his bicycle all over the town. This was a good series. And I say that with some surprise because I don’t think I would have said that after the first book.
Well, you've encouraged me to give Guido#2 another try. I think I will need to allot a chunk of uninterrupted time to see if I can't get this one to take. And I actually looked back at the lisst and realized I'd been trying to read the December book and was struggling because it didn't seem to fit. DUH....this new baby grand=daughter (due any minute) had better hurry up and get herre so I can get my mind back. In the meantime.....
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