Monday, June 14, 2010

Book 42- A Thousand Days in Venice

A Thousand Days in Venice [An Unexpected Romance] is a love story memoir by Marlena de Blasi. She chronicles her first trip to Venice, Italy and the relationship she has with the city, and the relationship she doesn't want to have, because it's the city of love and magic. After she succumbs to the city, she returns often and then one day, the magic of the city takes her over with an encounter with a strange man.

And in an instant, they have fallen in love. And after a few days and a visit, they plan to marry. Marlena plans to give up her career, her cafe, her home, most of her belongings, her life as she knows it, to move to Venice for this love affair, this romance, this first time with love, and she's well into her 50s when this happens.

This isn't something she does as a young woman, but as a grown adult.

And she does it in a rush. They don't take time to get to know each other, they rush, head long into this romance, and from their meeting in December, she moves in June to Venice and they marry in October. Ah sweet Venice, so she can marry her Venetian, a man she calls the Stranger. To a man who speaks very little English and she, a woman who speaks very little Italian, except for food.

I do like the whirl wind of it all. I like that she argues that she didn't want to wait, didn't need to wait, didn't need to go slowly, because why wait when you found the person you're in love with, why wait to be with him any longer? And the magic of it all, is that he felt the same way about her. It was an instant.

Now, what I didn't like, or maybe I should say, who I don't like is her Venetian, her Fernando. He's sort of an ass. And after she gets to Venice, it became rather mired in the "I'm living here so I have to learn everything" drudgery. She just seemed to go on and on about the slowness of the Italian culture, from cooking to planning the wedding to re-doing their apartment; it was such a long process of telling of the long process- blech.

I was hoping it would be rather like the other books I've read but there was very little love of food, though there are recipes at the back of the book. There is quite a bit of just... well, love. Love of the Stranger, love of Venice, learning to love herself, love her apartment, love of wanderlust, but very love WITH food, Fernando mostly didn't even love food. And I felt like this book had an author who lost her self, lost her own identity, who she was, with this huge transformation. I wholeheartedly agree that moving around the world for love is wonderful, but as I read I just felt like de Blasi gave up who she was for this adventure.

Or maybe it burst my bubble a bit. I've always wanted to visit Italy, especially Venice, but after much of her description, other than of the city itself, I think my frustration would come full tilt in dealing with the mindset of the people, rather than letting me fall slowly in love with the city of love.

1 Comment:

once in a blue moon... said...

oh i loved this book, well ALL of her books... i read it along time ago so the details fall by the wayside. i know there is a lot of food mentioned in all her books, she is chef by profession and spends a lot of time discussing, seeking and making food, perhaps not as much in her first book?

i thought she was a very lush writer, the pace is slower, just like life in italy! if you didn't like this i think the rest would drive you bonkers, more housing woes and new places to live. i have been to italy a few times, i loved these books, it was easy to get lost in them.

have you seen a pic of her? i have to say that shocked me, it was after her 3rd book i looked and it was like a thwack. i never forget the line where she said her husband, before they married, remembered her visiting venice before, i thought yeah right, well after seeing her pic i get it, she is someone you would not forget!

with all these great books you are reading time to get back into food for thought and share some good stuff!