Bidisha - Venetian Masters: Under the Skin of the City of Love (4 stars)

  • The List
  • 28 February 2008
Venetian Masters

(Summersdale)

TRAVELOGUE

Bidisha probably had good reason to feel jaded with her pressured life of academia and media in London. After signing her first book deal at 16, the precocious novelist and arts journo spent the next decade writing for broadsheets and lecturing in political theory. When she retreats to Venice for several months, the move seems as much about people-watching as taking stock of her life and smoothing out minor personal neuroses.

The passages exploring the buttoned-up conservatism behind the city’s dazzling façade are beautifully urbane and intelligent, but it’s the sections where she overcomes beach phobia, discovers pasticcerie and deals with sleazy machismo that are most revealing and endearing. Although there are points where you wish, like Venice itself, she would pay less attention to prim protocol, her journey through the winding back streets and glamorous cocktail soirées is intoxicating and satisfyingly full of insight.

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