The Passion by Jeanette Winterson

The PassionI started reading this short book – I’m not sure it can really be classed as a novel, divided as it is into four parts – while flying between Dublin and Italy. As luck would have it, I didn’t expect that a good half of the book would be set in early nineteenth century Venice – the next day day I was to visit Venice. And so, the tale of the Henri, and his worship of the that military deity, Napoleon Boneparte – to whom he serves chicken, and the parallel account of Villanelle, a beautiful web-footed Venetian girl with a penchant for cross-dressing set a scene for my experiences in what Henri describes as ‘A city of madmen’.

But, even if you’re not planning on going anywhere, it’s still a fantastic story – with characters like Patrick, the sometime Irish priest with prodigious and often improbable eyesight, the innocent, lovelorn Henri, and the ruthless, yet fragile Villanelle – who loses her heart to the wife of a Venetian merchant… It’s a tale of passion, love found and lost, and a search for inner peace in the chaos of life. Beautiful, magical, sorrowful and very funny.
The Passion (
The Passion (

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Writer, photographer, environmental campaigner and "known troublemaker" Dave Walsh is the founder of, described both as "possibly the most arrogant and depraved website to be found either side of the majestic Shannon River", and "the nicest website circulating in Ireland". Half Irishman, half-bicycle. He lives in southern Irish city of Barcelona.