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A Thousnad days in Venice is an exquisite book about Late found Love and is ideal for all those who believe in love at first sight, or at least want to believe. Marlena is a middle age divorced women living in St. Louis with her two grown up children. An American chef and a travelling cookery writer, she goes to Venice and meets a Venetian who turns out to be the love of her life. Although initially, Marlena is taken aback when this Venetian (Fernando) calls her, she ultimately falls for her.
So drawn by the charm of Fernando(A banker by profession), she decides to leave her country America, her material possessions and her 2 adult children and travels to Venice, where she finds true love both with the Venetian and with Venice. She has her inhibitions initially and thinks that she is too old for romantic love and intimacy. Moreover leaving her established life is a huge step, and her apprehensions are only natural. In such a state, she turns to her best friend Misha for advice, who tells her that it is a risk worth taking, if there is even the slightest possibility of this love being real. She agrees to Misha's advice, and what follows are the next thousand days of her immersion in the Italian culture and a happy married life.
Throughout the book, she keeps calling this man a "Stranger", which was a bit strange. Probably it was a deliberate attempt which added to the strange but poignant charm of Venice, a city where the idea to falling in love with a Stranger is nothing less than a dream come true.
Venetian Culture and Customs
The path to happiness is not as easy as it looks. Fernando doesn't speak English, and the only Italian that Marlena can speak is about food. Strong cultural differences between America and Italy were very evident, symbolized in the form of Marlena and Fernando. While Fernando leads a simple buttoned-up life comprising of small meals, basic needs, living in a boring colorless apartment, Marlena seems like his complete opposite. He finds the naturally vibrant Marlena's lipstick "too bright" and the meals too heavy for him, because Marlena by profession is a cook, who loves to cook large fancy meals and nurture other people. To some extent she suffers the loss of her natural exuberance for the sake of what the Italians call "Elegance". There are other practical challenges for her too, like the daunting task of renovating Fernando's apartment and fighting with the local bureaucracy, which seems hell bent on preventing their wedding.
However, in spite of all these differences, their successful Love Story only reiterates the Famous English phrase "Opposites Attract".
This book seems like perfect guide to the city of Venice, which vividly describes the sights and sounds of Venice, the city of Love, food and serenity. It aptly captures the culture of the city as it describes the various restaurants, markets, churches and the daily life of a common Venetian. It portrays the general problems that Marlena had in mixing with the culture of Venice, but eventually she fell in love with it. The vivid descriptions of the markets with vendors, sculptures, the boats , the church of San Simone Piccalo etc will actually give you a feeling of being in Venice.
An integral part of this book is food and cuisines, not just visual descriptions of meals bought or prepared, but also in the form of actual recipes (19 pages after the end of the story) which I will definitely try my hands on.
Compromises are an integral part of any working relationship, which have to be made from both sides. However in some instances in this book, I found Fernando to be very demanding and un-adjusting in his behavior as Marlena was making all the big changes for Fernando in spite of the fact that it was Marlena who had left her entire previous life for Fernando and not vice versa. During the initial part of their relationship, Fernando seemed to be the typical adult male who is used to get things done his way with the wife. However towards the latter part of the book, their relationship evolved into a much better bond of love and belief.
Most often than not, we tend to take the safer road, rather than difficult and riskier road. However here is a story of both love and courage, where her love for Fernando gave her the courage to traverse the unknown path of Venice. I also thought that she was a bit crazy in giving up her settled life and running away with this "Stranger" whom I didn't like personally (at least in the beginning). But ultimately her risk bore rich dividend for her and she lived with Fernando happily ever after.
In a nutshell, I can say that this book is about a Middle aged American woman who falls in love with a Venetian. Against all odds, she gives "LOVE" one chance, and that turns out to be the best chance she has taken in her life. It also shows that "LOVE" is not bound by age and one is never too old to follow your hear and think for your own self rather that the rest of the world.
This book is a must read for anyone who is interested in love, food or Venice. If you are planning to take a trip to Venice, or you want to relive the memories of Venice, then "A thousand Days in Venice" is the best read that you can get.