I 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 (Amazon.com)
The Passion (Amazon.co.uk)