Monday, October 8, 2007

Guest Blog--Suffer the Children by Donna Leon

I don't always read two books by the same author back to back. However, this novel was published this year and I have been on a waiting list at the library hoping for it to become available. And of course, when it did, I had to read it right away.

Suffer the Children is a little different from past books. Commissario Brunetti becomes interested in a case where a child who was illegally "adopted" is taken away from his parents at the age of 18 months. Since he was sold by his birth mother who does not want him, the baby is destined for an orphanage under the state's care instead of living in the warmth of his adopted parents' love. The story has lots of emotional conflict.

However, more than anything I enjoyed the glimpses into life in Venice; a city without streets or automobiles. At one point in the story Brunetti and another policeman, Vianello, find themselves in a taxi in another city. The description of their terror at being seat belted into an automobile that is zigzagging through traffic is delightful. They can hardly wait to return to their own city where they walk everywhere or travel by boat. Leon tells also of the cobblestones being lifted in Venice while construction work is done to raise the streets as a defense against the annual flooding. When the stones are laid again they are precut stones that are exactly alike. What happened to the cobblestones that had lain in the streets of Venice for centuries? Has someone in a minor public office sold them to someone for some extra money under the table? I think that these small pictures of life in a very different world from my own intrigue me as much as the mysteries themselves. Like most of Leon's stories this one has no clear black or white judgements, only questions about how we see the world and what we value in our own lives.

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