That feeling when…you’re trying to enjoy Venice during a pandemic

I mean Venice, Italy, of course. Not Florida or California or Las Vegas or any other inauthentic place.

Not that I visited Italy during the pandemic—at least not IRL—but I did manage a virtual visit by reading Give unto Others, Donna Leon’s latest novel in her wonderful long-running Guido Brunetti series. If you haven’t done so, please see my 2021 review of Transient Desires, the 30th Brunetti book.

This one is both like and unlike the previous ones. One similarity is that Venice itself is a character as much as it is a setting. Here we have the constant effects of the pandemic, ranging from mask-wearing (or not) to shuttered businesses and the concomitant lack of crowds to the newly emerged “boy gangs.” One difference from the earlier novels is that the reader doesn’t see much of Brunetti’s family—a few glimpses now and then, but mostly we see the police. This time we think about moral dilemmas more than police procedures. We also focus on charity fraud rather than murder. Although politics mostly stays in the background, there’s enough here to irritate the ultra-right. Worth reading.

Categories: Books