Start reading The Politics of Washing: Real Life in Venice on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here or start reading now with a free Kindle Reading App.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device


Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

The Politics of Washing: Real Life in Venice [Kindle Edition]

Polly Coles
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £9.99
Kindle Price: £4.29 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
You Save: £5.70 (57%)
* Unlike print books, digital books are subject to VAT.

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.


Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition £4.29  
Paperback £9.98  
Kindle Daily Deal
Kindle Daily Deal: Up to 70% off
Each day we unveil a new book deal at a specially discounted price--for that day only. Learn more about the Kindle Daily Deal or sign up for the Kindle Daily Deal Newsletter to receive free e-mail notifications about each day's deal.

Book Description

This is the story of ordinary life in an extraordinary place. The beautiful city of Venice has been a fantasy land for people from around the globe for centuries, but what is it like to live there? To move house by boat, to get a child with a broken leg to hospital or set off for school one morning only to find that the streets have become rivers and the playground is a lake full of sewage? When Polly Coles and her family left England for Venice, they discovered a city caught between modern and ancient life - where the locals still go on an annual pilgrimage to give thanks for the end of the Black Death; where schools are housed in renaissance palaces and your new washing machine can only be delivered on foot. This is a city perilously under siege from tourism, but its people refuse to give it up - indeed, they love it with a passion. The Politics of Washing is a fascinating window into the world of ordinary Venetians and the strange and unique place they call home.

Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought

Page of Start over
This shopping feature will continue to load items. In order to navigate out of this carousel please use your heading shortcut key to navigate to the next or previous heading.

Product Description


'More cerebral than most Venetian travelogues or fictions....Coles clearly has ample knowledge but also the wit to have travelled light' --The Spectator

'Eloquent' --The New York Times

'A riveting account of ordinary life in an extraordinary place, packed with charming anecdotes that will have readers hooked on Venetian life.' --Woodbine Independent

About the Author

Polly Coles grew up in London and also went to school in Australia. She studied English at Oxford University before becoming a primary school teacher working in in inner-city London. In 1990, she completed a Masters in Anthropology at the LSE, after which she started writing full-time. Polly writes fiction and about art, as well as abridging for BBC Radio 4's Book at Bedtime and Book of the Week. She was closely involved in the recording of the complete Arkangel Shakespeare for Pacificus Productions and, most recently, has written texts to accompany two exhibitions at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford. She and her partner, the violin maker Andrea Ortona, have four children and divide their time between Italy and England.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 550 KB
  • Print Length: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Robert Hale (30 April 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B1TBK7Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #106,848 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book. It's well written, amusing at times and conjures up an excellent picture of what it is like to live in Venice. The author describes the fishbowl feeling of being photographed whenever she went out, of not being accepted by true Venetians, and feeling 'neither flesh nor fowl'. She also felt alien from the numerous Eastern Europeans who go to Venice to work (or beg). The day to day difficulties of living in a city which is a museum, where there are no cars and getting from one part of the city to another takes forever are well described, and the effect it had on her children is interesting. She talks very little about her (Italian) husband, so how much help he was in adjusting to life in Venice is indeterminate. Don't get me wrong, though, there were definitely parts of life there that she absolutely loved, but I get the feeling that leaving was not too much of a wrench after a year. Overall, a very readable and informative book. I shan't look at Venetians in their home city in quite the same light in the future.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars eseential reading 23 May 2013
Don't even think about visiting Venice without reading this book. Polly Coles offers a thoroughly readable and highly intelligent collage of reflections and sketches providing a series of satisfyingly well-informed insights into the arcane and baffling ways of the endangered world of Venice. I loved reading this warm, wise and refreshingly honest book: I felt I was there in Venice with Polly, and I thoroughly enjoyed her company.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Venice experienced. 7 Aug. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book takes you to live in Venice for a year with Polly and her family. I was looking forward to getting to know the various members of the family and hearing their thoughts on the experience. However, the book is surprisingly light on the motives for the move and we are only given brief glimpses into the children's lives and thoughts. Alberto the husband is almost never mentioned we never get to hear about his motivation or participation in the day to day family life. There is a great deal of discussion on modern Venice versus past Venice. Venetian versus tourist. However, the book lacks the human intimate touch which its title promises.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Politics of Washing 19 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A really good insight into modern life in Italy. Definitely related to the main character, we experienced the same when moving to Italy.

Would definitely recommend this book as a must read to anyone who is thinking of moving to Italy just so they know what they are getting into. Anyone going there as a tourist should read this too.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
There are loads of great reviews for this book already – and it's well deserved. We are offered a rich and often surprising portrait of a place and people that are far more captivating than the clichés we are so familiar with.
Each chapter offers a different angle on the complexity of Venice’s struggle for survival in the modern world. Highly accessible and deeply thought-provoking and from time to time very funny. A perfect companion for the thoughtful real or virtual traveler.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars the real Venice 27 Sept. 2014
By Linda
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Unlike many travel books I have read recently, this book was written well, had plenty of colourful description which fleshed out the book. Venice came to life but in a new way. I have visited Venice as a tourist, like millions before me, but this book focused on what it means to be a Venetian, about the conflict of being one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world with sustaining Venice as a living, breathing community. I enjoyed it for its thoughtfulness.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another entertaining book for Venice lovers 29 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Anyone who loves this magical city will, I'm sure enjoy this book. It tells the story of the family's time spent living there, incluidng all the rpactical joys and niggles of everyday life - even down to the difficulty of hanging out the washing over the canal at your doorstep a couple of floors below. Any fan of Venice should enjou this.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Venetian Treasure 27 May 2013
What a delightful book! The author, her Italian husband and four children spend a year living in Venice - the perfect vantage point to describe the city and its inhabitants from the outside, and from within. Polly Coles creates a mille feuille of original and passionate observations on the education system, the post office, living with all that water, and how tourism is both responsible for keeping the place alive and killing it off.

But the real jewels of this book are the people - the Contessa with her IKEA furniture, the old man showing off the broken treasures he's fished from the Lagoon, the neighbour ranting at the author's street party , the gypsy beggar woman, the grim and unimaginative class teacher, the stubborn dry cleaner, Nonno with his cine film show, the tramp who complains about the state of backyard he's shacked up in, the glamorous American couple with their surprising baby. Each of them, and many more, alive immediately in delicate and compassionate detail.

The book is elegiac in tone, sad for a city that seems to be dying both spiritually and physically, but paradoxically these vignettes, many of them as meaty as a short story, demonstrate an extraordinary place teeming with glorious life.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 16 days ago by Jeano
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting picture of Venice
An interesting and enjoyable picture of day to day Venetian life. Often, as a tourist I see people going about their daily lives and wonder "what is it like to live here". Read more
Published 1 month ago by A Garrison
5.0 out of 5 stars An great insight in life in Venice
A lovely read and one that has inspired me to visit Venice.
Published 1 month ago by Maddie197
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
Thoroughly readable and reminds me of this very special city. Entertaining, amusing, beautifully descriptive without ever being boring.
Published 1 month ago by Awen
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
light read good humour
Published 3 months ago by amber
3.0 out of 5 stars Hmmm.....
I don't really know what this book was about, but the author seems to have a permanent down. The impression I was left with was that she was glad when it was over. Read more
Published 3 months ago by angela
3.0 out of 5 stars The author has a talent but content dull at times.
I enjoyed the first third of this book, however as it continued much of the story became boring. Much of the content involving tales of her children could be humorous &factual... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mrs. Joanne Price
5.0 out of 5 stars A view of Venice from the inside
an excellent . book giving a clear insight into the real insider living in the. City .The challenges posed by the influx of tourism.and the risks of flooding. Read more
Published 3 months ago by MR JAMES LAWLESS
2.0 out of 5 stars Snippets of interest but mostly humble-bragging.
I had such high hopes for this book. Unfortunately it doesn't deliver as promised. It starts well enough and tees up for the families great Venice adventure. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Lee Shuardson
3.0 out of 5 stars The first part of the book was really good when she was writing about...
The first part of the book was really good when she was writing about the move and settling in. The latter part was rather political and I got bored and skipped a few pages.
Published 8 months ago by Julia M.
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Look for similar items by category