Venice by Jan Morris

I had been wanting to read this ever since I visited Venice for the first and only time, earlier this year. We went in February and were lucky with the weather, which was sunny and warm (by our standards – we are from Scotland).

It is a richly detailed book but I found it a bit repetitive, reading it as I did like a novel, in one continuous flow. The writing is lovely but stylistically a bit monotone. I don’t mean to sound harsh – I am about to buy two more of Jan Morris’s books – but perhaps it is a book to dip into, rather than one to plough through.

Venice, of course, is just about as full and lively a topic as you can find and Morris does capture the sheer vivacity of the place very well, without becoming too hagiographic. She sees the flaws.

I would have liked to have heard more about Baron Corvo, who sounded like a bit of a card. But he is just one of many historical characters mentioned, reflecting Venice’s unusual history.

Oddly, I bought this book over the internet and received an old-looking volume by James Morris. I didn’t realise, out of pure ignorance, that James Morris was, in fact, Jan Morris before he became a woman. I threw it out, thinking it was some long-forgotten guide book by some nobody. But I was stupid and I wish I had kept it.


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