A book set in Venice
Are your bookshelves in perfect order? All the books arranged by author or subject?
Our summer bookshelves were in order when first filled, but that's 21 years ago and they are less orderly now. Yesterday, for a reason I'll explain in a minute, I searched the shelves for books about Venice and found seven titles.
Venice & the Veneto by James Bentley [Aurum Press 1992 £14.95]
Venice : A Literary Companion by Ian Littlewood [John Murray 1991 £11.95]
Venice : Insight Pocket Guide [1992 APA Publications £3.99]
Venice by Eugenio Pucci [1974 Mercurio Series of Bonechi Guide 1200 lire]
Venice : The Rough Guide by Jonathan Buckley and Hilary Robinson [1993 £8.99]
Turner's Venice by Lindsay Stainton [1993 British Museum Press £14.95]
Visions of Venice : Watercolours and drawings from Turner to Procktor [1990 Bankside Gallery]
The last is a catalogue of a loan exhibition staged by the Royal Watercolour Society to celebrate the Bankside Gallery's tenth anniversary. It includes a wonderful painting called Santa Maria della Salute : moonlight by Sir Edward Poynter [1836-1919].
I'm debating buying a copy of it from AllPosters but can't quite bring myself to spend £43 on an unframed giclee print.
Last week the postman delivered a padded bag containing an addition to our collection of books about Venice. It was a present from the author of one of my favourite blogs. On the fly-leaf is written "To Anne Weale with best wishes from Michael Allen" which, as many of you will know, is the real world name of Grumpy Old Bookman.
Michael's book is called Mr Fenman's Farewell to His Readers and is published by his own imprint Kingsfield Publications.
As you can see, the front cover has a photograph of a gondolier. The back cover has another photograph of gondolas tied up near the Riva degli Schiavoni, a waterfront where I have watched the sun set while having a pre-dinner drink at a table outside my small but comfortable hotel.
[George Sand, Charles Dickens, Proust and Ruskin stayed at the Hotel Danieli, now very expensive. I stayed at the nearby but reasonably priced Hotel Paganelli.]
Above the photograph of the gondolas, we read : "Who is the mysterious Madame de Mentou? And what is her real name? These are the questions which the writer Thomas Fenman addresses in a brief memoir which was written a few months before his death. Fenman, who lived from 1761-1837, had a long and successful career as a novelist. But, although famous and widely read in his day, he was soon forgotten after his death. Now his puzzling memoir is made available in print for the first time. In a scholarly introduction, Michael Allen describes how he came to own the original manuscript of Thomas Fenman's Farewell, and gives an account of what is known of Fenman's life."
The book can be bought from Lulu.com for $8.78 [£4.40 GBP] plus the shipping cost which can be checked at the site before the prospective buyer enters their payment details.
Mysterious and thought-provoking, it would make an unusual and welcome present for anyone who loves Venice.