I first met Maureen when she was visiting an Art Exhibition in Jonathan Hill's collection of short stories Eclectic. There she was a rather charming but hapless lady of mature years who was endearing although slightly ridiculous. On her trip to Venice her less endearing characteristics come to the fore and her egotistical behaviour is more developed.
That said, Maureen Goes to Venice is a very funny book and some of the predicaments she finds herself in verge on farce; although her final encounter with William takes a more serious turn. Maureen's trip to Venice is of short duration and the book whizzes along at a good pace trying to keep up with Maureen as she attempts to enjoy her holiday.
The book presents a fascinating picture of Venice that is portrayed both on and off the tourist track. The author must know Venice very well or has done some good research. There are several short descriptive passages which show the writer's ability to evoke scenes and atmospheres.
The book is peopled with a cast of minor characters who are given personalities by the author's eye for quirky details and succinct comments. I won't say anything about William, not wishing to reveal anything about the plot, other than he is so obnoxious you feel sorry for Maureen.
There are some scenes which make you laugh aloud most notably the cat and fish episode; although even while you're laughing you still feel sorry for poor Maureen. The author makes fun of Maureen without being cruel; he writes about her eccentricities without caricature; and he takes the reader into the deeper and darker aspects of Maureen's personality with a deft, light touch.
Jonathan Hill has written another book about Maureen: A Letter for Maureen. I have downloaded it and am looking forward to seeing how the character develops and how she behaves on her home ground. As I wrote in an earlier blog post, I was impressed when I read Eclectic and if you haven't read any of Jonathan Hill's writing that's a good place to start. But if you want a good, humorous, enjoyable read then just go with Maureen to Venice; I'm sure you will enjoy the trip.
Link to Maureen Goes To Venice amazon uk amazon usa
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