Wednesday, December 17, 2008


He gave in. 'What books, Chiara?'

'The ones Mamma gave me, in English, about the English sea captain and his friend and the war against Napoleon.'

Ah, those books. He took another sip of his wine. 'And do you like them as much as Mamma does?'

'Oh,' Chiara said, looking up at him with a serious expression, 'I don't think anyone could like them as much as she does.'

Four years ago, Brunetti had been abandoned by his wife of almost twenty years for a period of more than a month while she systematically read her way through, at his count, eighteen sea novels dealing with the unending years of war between the British and the French. The time had seemed no less long to him, for it was a time when he, too, ate hasty meals, half-cooked meat, dry bread, and was often driven to seek relief in excessive quantities of grog. Because she seemed to have no other interest, he had taken a look at one of the books, if only to have something to talk about at their thrown-together meals. But he had found it discursive, filled with strange facts and stranger animals, and had abandoned the attempt after only a few pages and before making the acquaintance of Captain Aubrey. Fortunately, Paola was a fast reader, and she had returned to the twentieth century after finishing the last one, apparently none the worse for the shipwreck, battle, and scurvy that had menaced her during those weeks.

(Donna Leon, Friends in High Places)

No comments: