I love this book so much. It would get six stars, if I could. I read it first in 2000, either when I was in Venice or shortly after I returned from my trip (my honeymoon for my short-lived marriage). My ex-h and I were both opera singers at that point in time. My Crohn's was in remission, or at least under control. Italy seemed the obvious place to go.
When I got to Italy, I was mesmerized. I literally said, send all of my things (including my cats), I don't want to leave. I came away from that trip to Italy with two things... 1) the knowledge that a couple should *always* take an overseas trip before they get married, even if you've been living together, you learn a lot about how a person handles new stressors & 2) a nasty case of bronchitis, because everyone there smokes, 24/7, especially the concierge in our hotel who was right down the hall from our hotel room and the smoke came up under the door; day and night. Leaving was the only option.
Unfortunately, I missed a few of the sites we had scheduled for the last few days of the trip; and though he dragged me out of the hotel room for a gondola ride, I have no memory of it and it wasn't in the least bit romantic.
This book has haunted me all these years. I've wanted to read it again. It's a short read, less than 200 pages. It has everything I would have liked to see and more. Cats, Venice in the moonlight, gondola's, ancient Palazzo's (both renovated and being reclaimed), dank churches, and cemeteries. When I found it in a box of books, I pulled it out and put it back on the shelf. It's one of those works that stays just behind my shoulder with it's own particular hum frequency.
A United Stated stock market trader, with a tenuous relationship with his father, and an obviously mismatched fiancé, is sent to Venice by him firm for a year to report on financial and political issues leading up to the Italian elections. He is haunted by the death of his mother's cat, at the Vet's hands due to old age, and his leaving the country; the cat was the last link to her, a surrogate sister, his mom having died in a car accident when our hero was 12. The book is so tightly written, we've learnt most of this by page 13, and he's off to Italy.
There are very few books I'd read more than once, and even fewer that I'd read more than twice. This is one of those special, magical books for me. This one won't go back into the bottom of a box.