Author: Jerome D. Oremlan
An old man (well, his age figures do suggest it, even though nothing else does) is often asked about his beautiful apartment in Venice. This takes him down a memory lane, the events of which find their origin in him, Jerry, the protagonist, losing his beautiful wife to cancer. The sadness attracted him to visit the place they had cherish the most together, Venice and that is how the apartment happened.
Well, the apartment saga is just a base fabric the story is painted on to. The book is actually like a big painting depicting a good number of things including a husband's longing for his deceased wife and the beautiful moments they shared together, the casual and intense relationship that the author is able to build with the various people he meets along the journey of his life and majorly and importantly, a guide to the history, geography, life and culture of Venice, while bringing to the fore some different ways human nature manifests among different individuals.
Through the story, mostly autobiographical, the author, an American, takes us through the visual tour of Venice, a city which he loves and a city which loves him right back. A perfect guide for someone who plans on visiting the city soon, and yes, since there is story to back up the details, it won't be a bore like most travel guides. Additionally, the author being a psychoanalyst and an art historian, has provided many interesting insights into the many historically important things that the city of Venice brings up to you.
The various intellectual conversations that the protagonist has with the interesting people he has a chance to meet in Venice point towards the other books that the author has written and give additional insights to the various works of importance, for instance, Shakespeare's Hamlet. For those who read or plan to read this book for the pure pleasure of English literature would surely find this as a high point.
A nice and quick one time read, could be a delight for those who have any connections or have been to or plan to visit the city. At many places, the story gets really predictable and repetitive, and the reader longs for some some twists and surprises. And yes, if you do not understand Italian even a very tiny bit, a fair amount of guessing will also have to accompany your reading. But yes, the predictability does bring in the sense of mundane, giving a feel as if you yourself are living normal life in Venice.
Ah, if you are planning to visit Venice anytime soon, follow the book and cover the most important of all the city's offerings in flat three days, by being a copy-cat to the route followed by Jerry while he was almost a travel guide to Paul and Annya. Cheers!