Monday, September 1, 2014

Donna Leon's About Face

Only one chapter into Donna Leon's About Face, and already I'd found two sentences worth remarking First, for the brilliantly sly balancing of its second (post-semi-colon) independent clause: "He recognized the Conte's lawyer and his wife; the others were an old friend of the Contessa's who, like her, engaged in good works, and her husband, who sold armaments and mining technology to Third World countries" (5) . . . and then this hilarious, so evocative, description of a  woman who has, presumably, undergone some plastic surgery: "Her mouth was set to spend the rest of its time on earth parted in a small smile, the sort one gives when introduced to the maid's grandchild" (6).

As it turns out, the woman's story is considerably more complicated than what the public sees, those who sneer at the supraliftata proving themselves to be ignorant as well as judgemental. And the vision of Venice and of Italy throughout is similarly complicated, the beauty of its art and architecture, the richness of its family connections and the pleasures of its food tempered by the corruption which has dangerous global environmental consequences.

I've had Donna Leon's books recommended to me in the past, and I vaguely remember reading one many summers ago, but I cannot understand, after reading About Face, why I have deprived myself of the Guido Benedetti Brunetti series. No longer! I'll be starting from the beginning, watching Guido's relationship with his clever and well-read wife Paola develop from its earliest days, learning more about the rather dauntingly efficient secretary Elettra, and saturating myself with imagery of Venice. Have you read these books? Any favourites?


  1. The Brunetti books are favourites of mine. I have read them all to date and really enjoy the insights into Venetian life. Well written and addictive. What's not to like?

  2. Exactly! What's not to like indeed?! I'm really pleased to have the whole series to look forward to reading!

  3. Sounds delicious. I'll have to look these up.

  4. Having read this , I've just bought and downloaded About Face on Audible .
    Thankyou for the recommendation. It , and the rest of the series , will keep me entertained most satisfactorily till my eyes "match" again .

  5. I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did, S&S -- I'm hoping to work through the series as well!