Sunday, March 26, 2006


Berendt's book will make you fall in love with the intrigue of Venice. He arrives just as the world-famous Fenice opera house is burning to the ground and decides to stay for several years. Through the course of Berendt's time in Venice we meet several ex-pats who have also made the canal city their home.

Woody Allen had been scheduled to play a jazz concert at the Fenice and instead plays a benefit to raise funds for its reconstruction but not before he is charged with trespassing in the company of the mayor.

Ezra Pound's longtime mistress, Olga Rudge (a violinist and Vivaldi expert) dies at 101, but not before her "friends" the Rylands who run the Guggenheim museum try to set up an Ezra Pound Foundation and convince her to sell all of his papers to them for $7000--a pittance when a few years later his private book collection of first editions signed by most of the authors sells for
$1 000 000.

Then there is the famous Murano glassblower who tries to recapture the night of flames in a limited edition of vases--still contested as his estate remains unsettled years after his death because of a family feud between his sons, the heirs.

Berendt's book is as intriguing as his billet-doux to Savannah: MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL. And, it is rife with a cast of memorable real life characters.

THE GREEK FOR LOVE by James Chatto

Chatto's memoir of falling in love with Greece is grounded in his early experience there with his newly pregnant wife Wendy in the early 1980s as they renovate a little home overlooking the sea. There she gives birth to their first son Joe and then several years later to their second son Ford a.k.a. "Nibby."

When Nibby is beginning to toddle, he drops to the floor one day as he is called for his bath. He can't get up. They discover that he has leukemia and he dies within weeks of receiving treatment back in London where Chatto's mother lives. When James and Wendy return to the little village where they began their family, the local people embrace their loss in a way that helps them to face their grief.


RUSH drummer and lyricist Neil Peart embarks on a motorcycle journey across North America and south into Mexico to avoid his first Christmas alone following the death of his only child Selena (who was killed in a car crash on her way to university in Toronto) and the subsequent death of his spouse Jackie who died of cancer within 7 months, though Peart claims it wasn't cancer, but a broken heart that did her in.

This memoir is part travelogue, part journal, part letter-writing and reveals Peart's emotional and geographical journey back to life. It is brave, sensitive and honest.


A former actress and painter ends up institutionalized for having abandoned her two small daughters as she is caught up in the creative flush of a new canvas. She spends the rest of her life trying to reconnect with the world with the faint hope of being able to remeet her grown children. When she discovers one of her daughters will be marrying in nearby Halifax, she decides to go to witness the wedding as an uninvited guest.


Classic detective fiction, this novel finds Scotland Yard's Inspector Grant bedridden in hospital going a little stir-crazy during his recovery. A friend distracts him with historical portraits and Grant becomes obsessed with a portrait of Richard III in which the face of the famous evil hunchback doesn't quite fit its illustrious reputation. Grant's curiousity leads him to revisit British history and reveal the truth about the murder of the Princes in the Tower of London.