Brunetti's Venice: Walks with the City's Best-Loved Detective, by Toni Sepeda, is one of those books that are best read slowly. I started this book in May, after finishing Peter Acrkoyd's Venice: Pure City, and just finished it last weekend. It was the perfect followup to the Ackroyd book, which provided the history of Venice and lots of observations and musings on the architecture, art, character, and politics of this fascinating city. Thanks to Brunetti's Venice, I know feel I have a pretty good basic understanding of the layout of the city and my desire to visit is now more intense than ever. Good thing it will be the starting point for a 2014 trip to Italy that I have been dreaming about for years now.
The book is all its title promises--it is a series of walking tours through the various neighborhoods of Venice, punctuated with passages from Donna Leon's mystery series featuring Commisario Guide Brunetti, and providing interesting information about the various plazas, churches, statues, theatres, hotels, and restaurants along the way.
When I finally do visit Venice, I envision taking some of these walks, and when I return home, rereading the book and comparing my impressions with those of Sepeda and by extension, Brunetti.
I'm also looking forward to reading another of the novels in the series--having read this book and learned something of the character of the different parts of Venice that Brunetti and his family frequent in the course of their lives, I am anticipating enjoying the Leon novels even more than I did in the past. Familiarity can breed enlightenment instead of contempt, especially when it comes to reading!
I found Brunetti's Venice to be a satisfying bridge between the real city and the fictional world of Leon's novels. I loved how they overlapped, but I also found fascinating where Leon departed from reality, as pointed out by Sepeda. For example, occasionally Leon renames restaurants, or continues to refer to a place that no longer exists.
All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable book, one that I savored whilst reading and plan to refer to again many times in the future.
I asked for and received this book as a Christmas gift last year...I think I'll put Brunetti's Cookbook on this year's wishlist!