Who hasn't longed to escape to the enchanting canals and mysterious alleyways
of Venice? Globetrotting writer Paula Weideger not only dreamed the dream, she took the leap. In Venetian Dreaming, she charts the course of her love affair with one of the world's most treasured cities.
Weideger's search for a place to live eventually takes her to the Palazzo Donà dalle Rose, one of the rare Venetian palaces continuously inhabited by the family that built it. She weaves the past lives of the family Donà with her own adventures as she threads her way through the labyrinthine city. Art and architecture are a constant presence. Yet even more strongly felt is the passage of time, the panorama of the seasons as reflected in special events -- Carnival, the Film Festival, September's historic regatta, midnight mass at San Marco. We follow Weideger as she explores the Ghetto, the expatriate community, and the lives of locals from noblemen to boatmen. Along the way she encounters everyone from the ghost of Peggy Guggenheim to the Merchant Ivory crowd, and experiences some high drama with the Contessa, her landlady. The resulting memoir is a wry and illuminating, intelligent and tender account of the once grand heritage and now imperiled future of Venice.
|Publisher:||Washington Square Press|
|Sold by:||SIMON & SCHUSTER|
|File size:||4 MB|
About the Author
Paula Weideger is a lifelong New Yorker, despite years lived abroad. A founder of the Writers Room in Manhattan, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Town & Country, and many other publications. She is the author of four previous books.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I bought this book hoping that the contents would support the title, because I, too, am one of those people who have fallen in love with Venice. There were good things and bad things about this book. The good things were the author's descriptions about what she saw and did, off the tourist-beaten path. I enjoyed reading the historical bits, even though they sort of caused the story to sort of screech to a halt at that point. Her husband remained a bit of a mystery throughout the book and I thought it was awfully good of him to go along with her, even though, from the start, he didn't seem at all happy about the idea of living in Venice, even for a few months. One thing totally floored me, however, and that was the shocking uncompromising, inflexible attitude she had toward her landlords. Yes, they wanted to tweak the agreement on the apartment just a bit, but they offered every which way to accommodate her, even offering her their own apartment and for free, no less, for two weeks. Weideger does not seem to even understand the concept of compromise. At first I was rooting for Paula, but soon, I found myself cheering the landlords on in the battle of wills. And Weideger seems to make a lot of people angry at her. I came away with the feeling that she was a lonely, spiteful, miserable person, and that alone left me feeling let down . So much for dreaming.
This was a terrible waste of time - and paper. To read this woman's bitter account of Venice and Italy was so incredibly distateful. The author was so selfish and elitist that there is no wonder that Venice sees American 'tourists' as rude entitled buffoons - especially if this is how we present ourselves. I thought that this was a sad piece of writing and a sad reflection of this woman's selfishness and lack of humility and grace.
I started this book wanting to like it. I love Venice and have spent a considerable amount of time there. Like the author, I also struggle with the Italian language and can totally relate to how difficult it can be to try to be understood. So we did have some common ground. I kept hoping, chapter after chapter, that things would pick up. They did not. One of the only things I did enjoy was the suspense about whether or not the apartment owner would be successful in her demands.
The premise of this book, and the fact that the author is a professional writer, should have resulted in a much better book. She does manage to convey some rewarding glimpses into the festivities typical of Venice and the special apartment that she and 'H' have rented in a Venetian palace. But the book reads like she wrote it straight through, and her editor didn't want to bother to look at it. There are loose story threads, poor sentence construction, and not much in the way of good descriptive writing. (Her decription of one couple, 'They both wore glasses,' is fairly typical of her level of imaginative writing.) When she does pure journalism, such as conveying information about the threat to Venice by water, she is a better writer - in part because she leaves off focusing on herself in order to make her report. Otherwise she spends too much time telling us about her friends and their important connections, and about her frequently bruised feelings.