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A Thousand Days in Venice (Ballantine Reader's Circle) Paperback – June 3, 2003


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Product Details

  • Series: Ballantine Reader's Circle
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (June 3, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345457641
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345457646
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (166 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #639,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

On a visit to Venice, de Blasi meets a local bank manager who falls in love with her at first sight. After "the stranger" (as she coyly calls him throughout the book) pursues her back to her home in St. Louis, Mo., she agrees to return to Italy and marry him, leaving behind her grown children and her job as chef and partner in a cafe. Although the banker, Fernando, lives in a bunkerlike postwar condominium on the Lido rather than the Venetian palazzo of her dreams, and some of his European ideas about women clash with her American temperament, the relationship works. She survives his criticism of her housekeeping and his displeasure at her insistence on remaining a serious cook (in modern Italy "No one bakes bread or dolci or makes pasta at home," he tells her), and they marry. Then one day Fernando surprises her by announcing that he is quitting his job at the bank where he has worked for 26 years. They leave Venice, he espouses her interest in food and they now direct gastronomic tours of Tuscany and Umbria. De Blasi's breathless descriptions of her improbable love affair can be cloying, but she makes up for these excesses with her enchanting accounts of Venice, especially of the markets at the Rialto. She conjures up vivid images of produce "so sumptuously laid as to be awaiting Caravaggio" and picturesque scenes of the vendors, such as the egg lady who keeps her hens under her table, collects the eggs as soon as they are laid and wraps each one in newspaper, "twisting both ends so that the confection looks like a rustic prize for a child's party." In a final section entitled "Food for a Stranger," de Blasi (Regional Foods of Northern Italy) includes recipes for a few of the dishes with which she charmed the stranger.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Venice is almost synonymous with romance, and in this charming account de Blasi spares no detail in telling us how she fell under its spell. A journalist, restaurant critic, and food consultant, de Blasi left her home, her grown children, and her job as a chef in St. Louis to marry Fernando, a Venetian she barely knew. In defiance of the cynics who think true love in middle age is crazy, her marriage flourished, as these two strangers made a life together. Food comforted the newlyweds when their conflicting cultures almost divided them, and in the end marital harmony reigns. Is this book a romance, a food guide, or an exhortation for us to come to Venice and experience the magic? Ultimately, it is all three, and there is even an appendix that includes recipes for dishes described in the text. Recommended for larger travel, biography, or cooking collections. Olga B. Wise, Compaq Computer Corp., Austin, TX
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Marlena de Blasi has been a chef, a journalist, a food and wine consultant, and a restaurant critic. She is the author of two cookbooks, Regional Foods of Northern Italy (a James Beard Foundation Award finalist) and Regional Foods of Southern Italy. She and her husband, Fernando, now direct gastronomic tours through Tuscany and Umbria.

Customer Reviews

I enjoyed this book very much and found it difficult to put it down.
Antenisca Gabriella Leone
A Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected Romance by Marlena de Blasi is a sumptuous, sensual feast of a book that celebrates life, love, and food.
SD
I think I'll have to get a version of this as an audio book, just to hear someone reading it to me.
A. Roberts

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

77 of 84 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Tryon on June 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
Details, the essence of domesticity, shine in this story. There are the travelogue-esque descriptions of Venice: Napoleon's observation about Piazza San Marco and viewing works of art sequestered in ancient churches. There's a discussion of making house, once in the Midwest in a little house I would love to see and again in the grotty chaos of a bachelor's digs. And throughout are delicious descriptions of food and drink and the ways and places to enjoy them.
Like youth, this book may be somewhat wasted on the young. The small ruminations, the reflections on how we find a place and make a place in life may seem over-wrought. Until the onset of my own middle-age, I felt the same way about such memoirs. Now, I greet writings like this with a mixture of recognition and enthusiasm: recognition of the silly ways we fumble along and enthusiasm for another's discovery that it is not too late to savour what is delicious about life. In that, I find a parable of encouragement.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Peter J. Sander on May 30, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have spent the last two nights in Venice... not really, but I feel as though I have, lying in bed amidst fluffy pillows, with a glass of red wine and my hot-off-the-presses copy of A Thousand Nights in Venice. What delightful book it is, Marlena takes us all on a romantic journey into the unknown. What happens when you meet the love of your life in, um, for lack of a better term -- middle age? How do you pick up and move across the world to an unknown place and cast your lot with a charming stranger? So many of us have had this fantasy while traveling, Marlena had the courage to act on the opportunity when it appeared. She has a lovely way with words, her descriptions of people, places, and best of all -- food, will sweep readers into an exotic world. Enjoy!
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93 of 107 people found the following review helpful By Amy Battis on August 8, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I hate to be a dissenting opinion, but the other side of the coin ought to be revealed. I was puzzled with this story because it seemed to me that the author up and moved to Venice to marry a man she knew (barely) peripherally. It wasn't like they'd had a long distance romance for years...and then decided to marry. They met, visited each other a couple times. Then once she's living with him, she is frustrated with the adjustment and his foreign (to her) ways and continues to call him "the stranger" even after they are married! It seemed too whimsical and I couldn't really feel bad for her frustrations given that she went into this pretty blindly. What did interest me was her in depth knowledge of Venice itself, which I'm sure she could've delved deeper into and provided us with more tidbits the average tourist wouldn't uncover. I also appreciated her detail of the Italian culture (ie: wedding plans, renovating the house, the moving process). I won't say I wouldn't recommend the book because I do feel there's an audience for it, I just won't be giving my copy out freely and endorsing it as the read of the summer.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By "suemdc" on May 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I've read the on-line debate about this book with pleasure. I understand the conflict, but I come down on the side that says this book is a great read.
I readily agree with those who say the descriptions can be too long and too colorful, and, especially those who say that they could not imagine moving to Venice to marry a "stranger." But, when I finished this book I felt I had spent the last few evenings with a highly entertaining, charming, and impulsive friend. That we had spent the visit talking about life, love, food, and Venice. And, that I wished she could have stayed longer. Not that I wanted to live like her, or agreed with all her decisions, but that listening to her talk was simply fascinating.
I loved the description of small things about Venice, her admission that all in love is not perfect, and her determined, wily temperment.
Take this book to the beach. Use it to spice up a dull week. Read about this woman's flight of fancy. Don't judge her life choices based on practicality or her word choices based on Hemingway. Just relax and enjoy.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Shannon Essa on August 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I have read many books set in Venice, but this is by far the best of any, whether fiction or non-fiction. The author really captures Venice and the Venetian people perfectly, sparing no-one, not even her husband, when she points out their quirks and idiosyncracies. The story is touching, funny, and true, and as soon as I finished I started reading it again. I will never forget about the Southern American dinner the author cooks for a big party of Venetians or the tango she does with the tax-man, I felt like I was there eating fudge pudding with a bunch of old Venetian guys. I feel I know Marlena and Fernando and having lived in Venice for a while myself, I could totally relate to the ups and downs of Marlena's life there with her Venetian.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Eric Finch on September 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book was our August Book club selection. The club was split on liking it and hating it, it certainly gave a good discussion. Personally I liked it. Though I was just in venice a week before reading it, so perhaps I was biased. Marlena did acurately portray Venice as to the locations and sights in the book matching real life, but she left a lot of questions in peoples minds, such as she answered What and where a lot, but never a why, as in Why did she fall for peter sellers fernando? why did she move why were they leaving why why why.. though she is a cook, we did like her descriptions of things using food ajectives, but it needed to be mixed up a bit, we all got really tired of the term Blueberry eyes.. the recipes in the end are amazing.

So I guess in summary, I'd reccomend A Thousand Days in Venice, if you have been, or ever plan to go there. otherwise, you might want to make a different selection.

Eric
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