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Venetian Storiesby Jane Turner Rylands
Synopses & Reviews
In these twelve wry and fascinating stories Jane Turner Rylands has brilliantly evoked the hidden and day-to-day life of one of Europe's most mysterious cities. The thoroughly engaging characters who are the focus of these stories are from different backgrounds and various Venetian neighborhoods, but their lives — and the stories — overlap and intersect in surprising and playful ways. We meet such workers as a postman, a gondolier, and a mason; and from a different circle, an architect, the mayor, a visitor (an American decorator), a contessa, a baronessa, and an English lord. There are avenging ghosts, a deceitful husband, and a fiendish mother among these.
Through Rylands' eyes we observe the amusing quirks and habits of the natives as well as of outsiders who are absorbed into this very closed society with all its rivalries, petty jealousies, and hierarchies. For all its elegance and sophistication, Venice comes to life as a small town. Suddenly, we have a sense of what is happening behind the seemingly inscrutable Gothic façades of those timeworn palazzos lining the Grand Canal.
These stories draw us into a complex, scheming, almost farcical society, but the poignant subtext is the profound fragility of a city with an uncertain future. Jane Turner Rylands has written a book that is as memorable and luminous as Venice itself.
"This is a Venice built not on canals, but on character and emotion. With so much interconnectedness to the tales, you wonder why Rylands...didn?t simply stitch them together into a novel that might have read like Lawrence Durrell. But no matter: these are charming tales of the personal vision of a city with a highly public character. A smart and vivid debut." Kirkus Reviews
"Of the thousands of books about Venice, very few tell us what it is like to live there. In these beautifully-written stories we see the city through the eyes of its residents, from countesses to postmen. I was captivated: a transatlantic flight passed in a flash." John Julius Norwich, author of The Normans in Sicily
"Jane Turner Rylands' Venetian Stories is terrific, guiding us with both affection and a shake of the head through a cast of characters — Venetian workers, middle-class folk, aristocats, even a giddy, disabused foreigner — with almost Dickensian relish. In the process, as lives cross and mingle and as coincidence becomes fate, we are treated to many beautiful evocations of Venice itself, the various social worlds, the daily rituals, the sights and sounds of that ultimately wondrous and unreal city. A Robert Altman movie of criss-crossing narratives, Venetian Stories is also a collection of fastidious, old-world, Proust-like pratfalls." Henry Bromell, author of Little America
Twelve wry and enthralling stories evoke the hidden life of one of Europe's most mysterious and unknowable cities.
About the Author
Jane Turner Rylands grew up in Ohio and graduated from The College of William and Mary in Virginia. She taught English for the University of Maryland’s European division for seventeen years. She has lived in Venice since 1973 and is married to Philip Rylands, the director of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.
Table of Contents
Postman — Architect — Collector — Contessa — Socialite — Mason — Visitor — Mayor — Interpreter — Gondolier — Lord — Mother.
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