Book Reviews

Wandering Through Life: A Memoir by Donna Leon

A fascinating, all too brief, autobiography by the creator of the Commissario Brunetti murder/crime series set in present day Venice, Italy.

This reviewer had only known of the author as being a long term inhabitant of the legendary city and had not realised she had lived a full, very eventful life and career prior to moving to Venice and prior to penning the first Brunetti crime novel.

A native American, her surname comes from her Spanish paternal grandparents. A teacher of English literature, she first moved to Iran to teach before the 1978/9 revolution. A hasty retreat to New York City to write advertising copy followed, then to China to teach English. Then she applied to teach English at the American military base in Italy. What followed after that was her first crime novel.

This autobiography is light, breezy, refreshing, humorous, not ponderous. Whilst not discounting the danger she and her fellow teachers were in during the Iran revolution neither does she let those events get in the way of recounting the friendships she made there, and in mainland China.

In 2015 she moved from Venice (part of the local population who complained about the increasing numbers of day trippers brought by big cruise ships) but not before recounting in a chapter her pursuit of the perfect morning coffee!

Reviewed by Belinda Coombs
Murder and Crime Reading Group

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Wandering Through Life: A Memoir by Donna Leon

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