I decided to read this novel after it was suggested to me by a friend I admire. He did so because it is set in Venice, and I was telling him about my recent visit. And La Serenissima does, indeed, loom very large in the novel.

The plot concerns an English woman in late middle age who travels to Venice on a whim after her close female friend, with whom she has lived for 30 years, dies. The nature of their relationship is never examined but is not, the reader assumes, a lesbian one, as the next stage of the plot concerns the protagonist falling in love with a Venetian man she meets. Her love for him turns sour when she realises he is a pederast. She becomes involved with various characters in Venice but the interest of the book lies in her interior thoughts and feelings.

There is a parallel plot concerning one of the Apocrypha, the Book of Tobit. Religion and religious imagery are omnipresent in the novel but I would not call it a religious book, though it could be read that way. It is more a book about the metaphysical, and its importance to the human soul.

Some aspects of the story are a little contrived, such as the Catholic priest who is a bit two-dimensional. But is a thought-provoking book, which I enjoyed.