Saturday, February 01, 2020

A Novel Set in Venice - Earthly Remains by Donna Leon

My recent reading has included Earthly Remains by Donna Leon. It is her latest novel and is set, like the many others that she has written, in Venice - where the erudite American writer  lived for 30 years.

The book is the most recent in the Commissario Brunetti series of award-winning murder mysteries. The plot is intriguing and characterisation excellent, as one might anticipate from a writer of Ms. Leon’s reputation. But there is a deeper level to the narrative, which will reward thoughtful reading. Motifs in Earthly Remains that gave me pause for thought are some of the many issues faced by Venice - the unsustainable level of tourism, the pollution in the lagoon, the delays to the barrage that would protect against flooding caused by acqua alta, the underfunded public social care, and corruption.

Many of us have an impression that Venice is a uniquely beautiful, romantic, cultural treasure. It’s all of those things and that is why people visit. But, most importantly, it home to many families whose roots in the city can be traced back for many hundreds of years. Many citizens have retreated to the mainland, forced out by high property prices and the difficulties created by tourism and flooding.  Partly due to an increased awareness brought about by reading Earthly Remains, the Venetians who steadfastly remain are likely to be at the forefront on my mind when I make my next, probably final, visit in May.

I'm travelling to the Veneto with my two sisters for a long weekend, staying in Mestre and taking the tram ride into Venice. One of them hasn't been to Venice previously so we will no doubt be visiting some of the more popular sites that I have written about in my article Tips for Visiting Venice on a Low Budget