I’ve posted my thoughts about Page 69 – supposedly representative of the novel as a whole, according to a theory, if it is one, proposed by Marshall McLuhan – on this site. It’s run by an engaging fellow called Marshal, too. Marshal Zeringue.
In The Globe & Mail, Margaret Cannon writes:
Jason Goodwin won an Edgar for The Janissary Tree, his first novel set in 19th-century Istanbul, featuring the eunuch, cook and investigator Yashim. It was a brilliant debut, followed by the equally fine The Snake Stone, but in The Bellini Card, Goodwin and Yashim really hit their stride.
There’s a sultan and a Bellini portrait, and the plot takes Yashim and his friend Palewski to Venice in all its slightly sultry, slightly tawdry glory. There is a murder, of course, and the suspects include faded aristocrats and a mysterious and very beautiful contessa. If you want to completely escape the chilly, dreary modern world, this is the book to take you away.
New in – this from Carol Memmott writing in USA Today:
Jason Goodwin’s series starring a eunuch detective serving the Ottoman Empire’s sultan is as much literary novel and historical fiction as it is a mystery. In The Bellini Card: Investigator Yashim Goes to Venice (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 288 pp., $25), the eunuch Yashim and his friend Stanislaw Palewski, a Polish diplomat, tackle the assignment of discovering whether a rumored portrait of Mehmet the Conqueror by the painter Gentile Bellini exists and, if so, to buy it for the sultan. The investigation takes these clever, endearing detectives to Venice, where lucky readers are transported to a fascinating period in Venetian history.
And here’s the review from National Geographic’s Traveler magazine:
A Venetian Journey by Don George
Bringing a contemporary city to life in words is an extraordinary enough challenge. But bringing a mid-19th-century city to life is infinitely more challenging. Edgar Award-winning mystery writer Jason Goodwin overcomes the challenge with vigor and grace in The Bellini Card, his third in a series of historical mysteries featuring the eunuch investigator Yashim, who serves the Ottoman court in 19th-century Istanbul. In this new book Yashim journeys to Venice at the behest of the new sultan to search for a legendary portrait of Mehmet the Conqueror, painted by Gentile Bellini. From its fast-paced dialogue to its interlacing political and social intrigues to its atmospheric depictions of Venetian life, The Bellini Card presents a riveting and revealing journey in time and space.
Speaking of covers… here’s the US edition, out in hardback on March 3rd – tomorrow!
In The Bellini Card Yashim’s old friend Palewski, the Polish ambassador in Istanbul, goes to Venice on the trail of a lost portrait of Mehmed II.
For safety’s sake he presents himself as an American dealer, buying Old Masters for millionaires across the Atlantic. Why? Because nobody in 1840 Venice really knew what an American might be like.
Popi Eletro dreams of selling his Canalettos to a land of timber and furs. Count Barbieri, on the other hand, believes that New York might be the modern Venice: ‘It takes a wealthy and energetic commercial city to spawn rich men,’ he says, ‘who then vie with each other to call out what is beautiful.’
Dangerous ground for them, of course.
For anyone browsing from the US or Holland, feel free to go back to my posts in April 2008, when I began this blog to coincide with the UK publication. The Janissary Tree came out first – by a matter of days – in the USA, but the rift in schedules has widened since then. I’m not sure why, exactly. For The Evil Eye next year, it’ll be simultaneous.
That was my request. Sometimes it’s better to have more time. You can fill it, of course, with everything but writing. Gardening and cooking and having friends around. Children, always. Moving house. Walking on a beach. And don’t forget worrying as an occupation.