The Passion

Writing a review of The Passion seems as elusive as the emotion itself. While ostensibly it’s clear: Henri loves Napolean in his own way, before he meets Villanelle whom he truly loves; she in turn has had her heart stolen by another woman who is married. All this, in the setting of lovely Venice whose streets are as tangled as our characters’ hearts.
Favorite quotes on Venice:
This is the city of mazes. You may set off from the same place to the same place every day and never go by the same route. If you do so, it will be by mistake. Your bloodhound nose will not serve you here. Your course in compass reading will fail you. Your confident instructions to passers-by will send them to squares they have never heard of, over canals not listed in the notes.
Although wherever you are going is always in front of you, there is no such thing as straight ahead. No as the crow flies short cut will help you to reach the cafe just over the water. The short cuts are where the cats go, through the impossible gaps, round corners that seem to take you the opposite way. But here, in this mercurial city, it is required you do awake your faith.
With faith, all things are possible. (p. 49)
on passion:
When passion comes late in life for the first time, it is harder to give up. And those who meet this beast late in life are offered only devilish choices. Will they say goodbye to what they know and set sail on an unknown sea with no certainty of land again? Will they dismiss those everyday things that have made life tolerable and put aside the feelings of old friends, a lover even? In short, will they behave as if they are twenty years younger with Canaan just over the ridge?
Not usually.
And if they do, you will have to strap them to the mast as the boat pulls away because the siren calls are terrible to hear and they may go mad at the thought of what they have lost.
That is one choice.
Another is to learn to juggle; to do as we did for nine nights. This soon tires the hands if not the heart.
Two choices.
The third is to refuse the passion as one might sensibly refuse a leopard in the house, however tame it might seem at first. you might reason that you can easily feed a leopard and that your garden is big enough, but you will know in your dreams at least that no leopard is never satisfied with what it’s given. After nine nights must come ten and every desperate meeting only leaves you desperate for another. There is never enough to eat, never enough garden for your love.
So you refuse and then you discover that your house is haunted by the ghost of a leopard.
When passion comes late in life it is hard to bear. (p. 145-146)
Read this book for the thoughts on Venice, the thoughts on love, the magical realism, and the Biblical references. For that is what it’s comprised of.