The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik
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February 14, 2015

Falling in Love

'I'm not sure that's an answer, Mamma,' Chiara said.
'You'll understand some day when you're married and have kids, stella,' Brunetti told her.
Her attention swivelled to him.
'You get to be home alone, Chiara,' Brunetti said.
'What's so great about that?' Chiara asked,
Paola, who was facing her at the table, gave her a level, adult look. She tasted a thin wheel of zucchini, approved her own cooking, and took another bite. She set her elbow on the table and cupped her chin in her palm. 'It means I do not have to prepare dinner, or serve it, or wash the dishes after it, Chiara. It means I can have bread and cheese and a salad, or no salad, or no bread and cheese, and make myself whatever I want to eat. But more importantly, it means I can eat when I want to, and I can read while I'm eating, and then I can go back to my study and lie on the sofa and read all evening.' When she saw Chiara get ready to speak, Paola held up her hand and continued. 'And it means I can come in here and get myself a glass of wine or a glass of grappa or make myself a coffee or a cup of tea or just have a glass of water, and I don't have to talk to anyone or do anything for anyone. And then I can go back to my book, and when I'm tired, I'll go to bed and read there.'
'And that's what you want to do?' Chiara asked in a voice so small she could have been an ant standing under a leaf.
In a much warmer voice, Paola said, 'Yes, Chiara. Once in a while, that's what I want to do.'
With the back of her fork, Chiara mashed at a piece of carrot until it was an indistinguishable blob on her plate. Finally, in a voice that grown a bit stronger, she asked, 'But not always?'
'No, not always.'
On the way back, Brunetti marvelled at the way Paola managed so successfully to teach her children the ways of the world with a grace and charity that often left him at a loss for words, ,,, Chiara had just been forced into a new understanding of cosmology, where planets followed their own orbits and did not circle round at her convenience. Brunetti had read, just that week, an article reporting that 25 per cent of Americans did not know that the Earth circled the Sun; he wondered how many people ever realized that the world did not circle around them. 'Better that she learn it now,' he muttered to himself, then looked nervously around, hoping that no one had heard him.
Wasn't it brilliant of me to finish Donna Leon's new Guido Brunetti novel just in time? :)

I'm already in love with this series, and the characters in it, and all the food and the reading, and after one or two that maybe didn't quite fulfill all my hopes for them, this one did.  And it proves, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that I don't read mysteries for the mysteries or crime novels for the crimes, because if I did, I probably wouldn't read them.

As I discovered when it first came into my hands, in this latest book, Brunetti encounters Flavia Petrelli again, the opera singer he first met (and suspected) in the very first book, Death at La Fenice.  In the opening {which I thought was very well done}, she is back in Venice, singing Tosca, and after Guido and Paola visit her backstage after a performance, it's revealed that she is receiving gifts {dozens and dozens of yellow roses, and an unusual necklace} from an unknown and unwelcome admirer.  Things escalate when people connected to her are harmed, and the mystery of course involves identifying the person who is pursuing her.  That's all just a little unsatisfactory, except that the solving involves Signora Elettra, who has gone on strike with some of her employers {but not Brunetti} because of their  mistreatment of a dim-witted but beloved officer.

But the Brunettis are also at home, eating  together and watching Downton Abbey and being a family.  And reading. I love that Guido and Paola are both readers; there's this moment at the table, and another very good one when Paola remarks that Guido is a very deep reader and he is visibly touched by her saying so.

A nice bit of romance for a reader!  I hope your day is full of them.

{Falling in Love will be published in April.  Thank you to Grove Atlantic and Netgalley for this early treat.}

1 comment:

Kay said...

I have this series on my list to try. And it keeps getting longer and longer. Ah, well. Anticipation. Thanks for the nudge!

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