The sun is beginning her descent. The last few rays of sunshine illuminate my living room as I curl up tighter under my blanket. In the last remains of the day, my red wine shines purple hues onto my plate of grilled salmon and rosemary seasoned potatoes. I feel my room soak up the evening as I turn to the final chapter of A Thousand Days in Venice.
This is a book for romantics, for those who believe in love. In the words of the Chicago Tribune, it is “a true, disarming, and unexpectedly endearing romance…not the idealistic hero and heroine, not their lusts, but the comedy and tenderness of two lives joined together rather belatedly.”
It’s 1989. Marlena De Blasi, a food journalist and chef, steps foot in Venice for the first time. She’s awestruck by the power of the city, by her smells, her sights, her essence. At this very moment, a man spots Marlena from across the Piazza San Marco and falls in love. When Marlena returns to Italy a year later, this “stranger”—as she affectionately calls him—tries to pursue her. The heartbreak of her recent divorce leaves Marlena feeling weak, incapable of love, and she kindly rejects the stranger’s offers. However, within months of their first actual meeting, Marlena packs up her life in St. Louis and moves to Venice to marry this man who looks like Peter Sellers.
Over the course of three years, we see these two seasoned people forge a relationship built on passion, trust, and fine food and dining. Although they are both mature in years, their relationship is somewhat childlike: fresh, new, exciting, passionate, and romantic. Through the shear poetry of Marlena’s true account of her life with The Stranger, we get a plate full of the food and flavors of Italy and a hearty taste of life in this city of love. Her Venice is the Venice of my dreams, the Venice of romantics.
A Thousand Days in Venice could act as a travel book for couples vacationing there. Included are locations of different cafes around the city, “A Lover’s Guide to Venice” where Marlena literally lays out the perfect romantic spots, and a spread of some of Marlena’s mouthwatering recipes: “A Gratin of Leeks,” “Fresh Pasta with Roasted Walnut Sauce,” “Sleeping Plums,” “Potato Bread,” “Fried Squash Blossoms,” “Traditional Tuscan Tomato Porridge,” “Skewers of Sausage and Fig-Stuffed Quail Sitting on Pillows,” “Whole Roasted Pumpkin Stuffed with Porcini and Truffles,” “Loin of Veal Braised with Wine Grapes,” “Wild Mushrooms Braised in Late-Harvest Wine,” and “Lemon Gelato with Vodka and Sparkling Wine.”
A Thousand Days in Venice is a full course romance seasoned with recipes, stories, and culinary observations…but the main course here, the piatto principale, is the story of a woman, a man, and the city that inspired them to fall in love. It’s a rich and delicious Italian meal for anyone who believes in love.
“Take my hand and grow young with me;
don’t rush, don’t sleep;
be a beginner;
light the candles;
keep the fire;
dare to love someone;
tell yourself the truth;
stay inside the rapture.”
–A Thousand Days in Venice
SUGGESTION: Read it! It’s the perfect summer book. It’s an indulgence and I wouldn’t be surprised if I gained weight just by reading it 😉
NEXT WEEK: Coming up next week is a story about mothers and daughters, the strength of family, and the intricate rhythms and beats that keep us all moving forward. Stock up on the tissues…
Looking for a new book to read? Check in every Friday for a “Bee Happy” post, where I share reviews of books I’ve read or other book-themed lists.