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review 2016-07-01 14:54
The Waters of Eternal Youth (Guido Brunetti) - Donna Leon

Fifteen years ago Manuela Lando-Continui was involved in a tragic accident, almost drowning in a canal. Left with life changing brain damage, she is left to go old with the mind of a young child. In the present day Manuela’s grandmother appeals to Brunetti to look into the incident, convinced that due to Manuela’s intense fear of water that she would have been nowhere near the canal. Sceptical at first Brunetti looks into the case, discovering a dark secret, and someone willing to murder to keep it buried.

 

It is always a pleasure to revisit Venice and Commisario Brunetti. It is one of the highlights on my reading landscape and one that tends to rarely fail to entertain and delight me. The Waters of Eternal Youth didn’t fail in either regard.

 

It is sometimes the case that in Donna Leon’s books the crime that purportedly drives the story often takes a back seat the characters and their tales. In this instance the crime and events that follow form an integral part of the tale and the characters are placed in the shadows somewhat. That isn’t to say that the story is lacking in character, far from it. All the central players are there, Brunetti and his family, Vianello and Claudia Griffoni and of course the incomparable Signorina Elettra, whose one-upmanship against the conniving Lieutenant Scarpa brings welcome light relief. The most effecting character is Manuela, who’s life now is one of perpetual childhood, aging as normal physically but with the mind and spirit of  a young child, the result of an incident that appeared on the surface to be a tragic accident.

 

The story pulls together well, despite the fact the that initial catalyst occurs off page and sometime in the past. The clues are well laid out, perhaps a little too well laid as I had worked out who the culprit was about half way through the book. During the course of the series there have been some novels where the ending is not clear cut, sometimes Brunetti is frustrated by the legal and political system and the retribution of the perpetrators is sometimes out of reach. In this novel however that is not the case and the ending sees Brunetti’s skills played out perfectly.

 

As with many of her novels, Donna Leon allows Brunetti to voice concerns about the state of Italy, of its politics, corruption, position in regards to Europe and immigration and of course, the effects of tourists on the housing market and the Venice of his youth.

 

There is something like comfort to be found within the pages of a novel that features characters a reader has seen mature and develop over a number of years. It is the comfort of the familiar, of the feeling of almost returning to old friends, and it is this feel that is apparent in this book and makes it all the more enjoyable to read.

 

As ever, I impatiently wait for my next visit to Venice and Brunetti.

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text 2016-04-17 14:50
Today's haul
The Amazing Mrs. Pollifax - Barbara Rosenblat,Dorothy Gilman
Drawing Conclusions: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery - Donna Leon,David Colacci
The Vanishing Velázquez: A 19th Century Bookseller's Obsession with a Lost Masterpiece - Laura Cumming,Siobhan Redmond
Death of a Bore - M.C. Beaton

Well, not really a haul.

 

Three came from the Audible member's 50% off sale (where the cash price has to be less than the price of an Audible credit) and the M.C. Beaton is a library loan which I actually started reading this time.

 

Now that I am have a card for the public library, I am becoming a lot more picky about the books that I buy on Audible. Now it has to be something that I really want to add to my library and read more than once or something that I can't get through the library but really want to read.

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review 2015-12-11 17:17
Suffer the Little Children (Brunetti #16) - Donna Leon
Suffer the Little Children (Guido Brunetti Series #16) - Donna Leon,David Colacci

Interesting topic of discussion. Illegal adoptions, people who want to be parents buy children from people who don't want them. What happens after they're busted? Where do the kids go? Their birth parents don't want them back, a foster home is most likely their destiny. Sometimes, "the right thing" is not the right thing at all.

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review 2015-12-06 17:53
Through a Glass, Darkly (Brunetti #15) - Donna Leon
Through a Glass, Darkly - Donna Leon

I love Brunetti's Mysteries, but this one was quite boring, I never found myself caring what was going on. It wasn't a bad book, it was just a bit flat. Of course, I will continue with the series. One so-so book doesn't blemish the rest of it :)

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review 2015-08-05 15:56
So, a funny thing...
Death at La Fenice - Donna Leon,Richard Morant

…it turns out I've read this book before. I figured that out from a single detail—the only detail I remembered because it was so Italian—and continued listening to the book like it was my first time reading it.

 

Unmemorable as it was, it was also a decent book. Nothing spectacular but neither anything truly terrible, except for a few chosen plot threads and the ending. Intolerance of homosexuality is a thing that still happens, in Italy too, but the author makes it unnecessarily salacious. Even if this book was written and published almost a quarter century ago.

 

Then there's the ending. Last time, I assume I liked it, but this time I cannot. What Brunetti's silence reaffirms effectively robs a someone their voice and chance to heal.

 

 

 

The narrator, Richard Morant, was competent but made me question whether all British narrators are taught the exact same accents and whether or not he understands what "without an accent" means.

 

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