Julia Garnet is a virginal school-marm who lives with her friend (but emphatically not lesbian lover) Harriet in a flat in Ealing. Then Harriet dies two days after their joint retirement and Julia rents an apartment in Venice for six months. Here the cautious, waspish, Julia comes face to face with beauty, passion and religion and the winter of Venice warms her wintry heart.
This charming tale of a barren old prude coming to terms with loneliness and barrenness is told with simplicity and elegance. Miss Garnet is so out of place in this modern, sensuous world and nowhere more so than in Venice, yet she is the rock of sense round which the other characters in all their foibles and weaknesses whirl; to whom they cling. Yet she is not a saint. Looking back on her empty life she realises that she has been spiteful, and damaged, and scared; that she has retreated from life and that this is a sort of sin.
Miss Garnet's unfolding is paralleled by a retelling of the Apocryphal Book of Tobit, in which Tobit's son Tobias travels with a spotty dog and the Angel Raphael to win a bride.
We learn a lot about Venice and about the Zoroastrians.
Delightful. November 2012; 335 pages
August 2016: This is one of those books that stay in your mind. Vickers has also written
The Cleaner of Chartres
Mr Golightly's Holiday which is simply superb!
- Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57