Sorry for not posting for a while. There has only been limited reading going on here. I had a bit of a shock over the weekend. My husband informed me that he has a 6 month deployment to Iraq next year. I realise that as a wife of a soldier I should be ready for this; but it is a different thing to know in theory they may go overseas, and to experience it in reality. Anyway, the news somewhat upset my equilibrium and tears (for several days) insued. Reading made difficult by sore, red eyes; and continuous drip onto page. Anyway, I am now somewhat recovered and am trying to see the positives in it. Still early days for seeing many; but one I can concieve is a 2 week reunion in Italy in the middle. This is pertinent because the novel I have been reading and loving is set in Venice - Miss Garnet's Angel by Salley Vickers - and my husband's means of breaking the news was to tell me he would take me to visit there...
When Miss Julia Garnet's friend, and 30 year live-in (platonic) companion, Harriet, dies she decides to rent out her apartment and spend 6 months living in Venice. When she leaves England she is a straight-laced individual, somewhat of a loner and, furthermore, a life-long committed Communist. However, Venice gently transforms her. First of all she is befriended by an American couple - the Cutforths. Then she falls in love with the suave Italian Carlo. She is disappointed, later, when she learns that he merely sees her as a means of getting at Nicco: a young boy to whom Julia is teaching English.
Julia also meets 'the twins' - Toby and Sarah who are restoring the Chapel-of-the-Plague. It is they who show her a panel representing the story of Tobias and the angel, Raphael; a tale from the Jewish bible - the Apocrypha. She becomes entraced with the story which unfolds simultaneously with Miss Garnet's experiences in Venice. She begins to envisage the angel and this frees her spirit, allowing her to embrace life like she never has before.
This is a beautiful story and fascinating with its links to the geography and history of Venice; and is made even more so because of the tie-in with the tale of Tobias and the Angel, Raphael.
Salley quotes John Ruskin in the end papers
"If some people really see angels, where others see empty space, let them paint the angels..."