Published by Orion
Have you been to Venice (Italy)?
This was first published in 2009 and I was very lucky in that I received a proof copy of the book when I was working in Harrods and promptly fell in love with it. I suddenly realised the other night that I *have never written a post about this quite extraordinary book.
I wrote a review on the Waterstones web site as a result and it read:
“Atmospheric, beautifully written and about Venice…a superb volume of adventure encompassing- all that makes a good solid read. Includes ghosts, retribution, death, mermaids, seahorses, bravery… Absolutely brilliant. Read it in Venice if you can, if not, then read it and visit as soon as you can…’
Sadly they changed the site, so you can no longer read it – I really should put this up again – it is a marvellous book.
Should you be an adult about to ignore this small volume as it was written for younger readers, be aware that if you do you will be missing one of the gems of English writing, and I won’t be responsible for that.
I think the characters of the mermaids are perhaps my favourite – they wouldn’t have much time for the more traditional sirens of the sea really – wilder and more full of life.
I sold nearly a thousand copies in Harrods – I sold it to everyone: a gentleman who wanted a copy of the Koran in English; he left with two books, one he had intended to read, the other, was a copy of this. Another man wanted to look for accounting books and requested to see our section, which I told him was very small. He complained that it was, so I told him that I had already said so. I did, however, have a book he would like (it is better than a book on accounting), and sold him one too…and a famous comedian once told me he had finished with me after I had found him all the books he wanted, and noticed me waiting for him. To which I replied I hadn’t finished with him – and sold him a copy of it too, along with all the health books his wife had gathered together. Numerous people were asked if they had been to Venice and if they had liked it. Once I had the reply in the affirmative (I only ever had one person say they didn’t**), I would tell them about this and they would buy it, and go back again. Others hadn’t been – and would take a copy to read before they went. Some I ‘caught’ for want of a better word just before they were going – which was marvellous – they would take it with them and read it in Venice.
This is the book for taking to Venice.
If you are one of my younger blog readers and your parent’s / significant adult hasn’t taken you to Venice – then persuade them to buy you this book, read it and then nag them. You should have been taken to Venice by now. If they are being recalcitrant, then either ask them to visit me (and I will persuade them), or ask them to read it – a book that makes you yearn for the city of water, cats, mermaids and history.
Venice used to be a city of cats – but then they decided to sort out their strays and they have been moved onto a local island. Which is a pity – it is still a city of cats; the dogs are there as a temporary anomaly – I am sure the felines will return – after all, Venice is an intricate city full of tiny alleys, and bridges, and little space for dogs to exercise, and the cats are still there. You just have to keep an eye out…
*Having written and illustrated this post, I find on typing in the Categories and Tags that it seems I have already reviewed it. No matter – it is definitely worth two posts.
**As to that lady who sadly hadn’t enjoyed her visit to Venice.
I was confused by this reply, and asked her what it was that she didn’t like.
To which she replied ‘The gondolas’.
I assumed she hadn’t meant the boats (they are a beautiful craft) and that she had meant gondoliers (the gentlemen who punt them) and that one of them had been a little unprofessional, perhaps and asked her.
To which she replied ‘No, the gondolas!’ So I asked her what it was that she didn’t like about the gondolas – and she replied
‘They wobble!’ Which is true and part of their charm.
There was nothing I could do or say about that and so she left without buying this miraculous piece of writing…
The second volume in the series is called The Mourning Emporium, and the last, Talina in the Tower – since they are all in print, you may as well buy them together. After all, you will buy them once you have read The Undrowned Child, so why wait and have to return to the book shop to get them? Or for Waterstones to deliver them?
Picture credits: venetiamicio.blogspot.fr / Patti Wood