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

Polly Coles
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £9.99
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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.

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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
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #43,991 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 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.
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14 of 15 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.
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11 of 12 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.
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4 of 4 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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great insight in to living in Venice 16 April 2014
By hross42877 TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Today I have something a little different for you!

But before I start I have another confession to add to the growing list - I love travel books, it could be because I am a Sagittarius or it could just be nosiness!, The real reason is that I love to be able to discover these places without the hassle of getting on plane and a really good writer can instantly transport you to underneath the beautiful sakura in Japan or to the frozen wastes on Antarctica.

This book manages that and it takes us to the timeless city of Venice in Italy.

Polly and her family leave England and up sticks to Venice, now my preconceived idea of doing this was that I knew canals replaced the roads but surely living there would be easy enough?

I was wrong on this count!

This book shows how things we take for granted can be just that little bit more time consuming in Venice, the school run involves boats, hanging out the washing sounds dangerous and the high tides which I ashamed to say I knew nothing about sound positively scary to me (could be because I cannot swim)

Polly has done a beautiful job of showing us that it can be done, Venice to me is such a romantic city and Polly has painted a vivid picture of day to day life there. If anything I am envious of her living in such a historic place.

If like me you have a lust for travel, then please read this book you will not regret it.

I award The Politics of Washing: Real Life in Venice 4 out 5!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The real stuff 3 Feb. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
We have all of us been to Venice (some even perhaps, heaven forfend, on board of a monstrous floating tower block of a cruise ship) and those of us who have not yet visited will do so sooner or later. It seems to be law of nature. To show us around the astounding and beguiling Serenissima innumerable publications guide us through the enchanting canals and streets and in and out of museums and churches to help us revel in the breathtaking art and architecture. But Polly Coles' book does something quite different, rare and fascinating. Written by someone who has lived in Venice and who has had to cope with the demands of a young family, complicated bureaucracy, a rich cast of sometimes grumpy neighbours, unforgiving teachers, irate professors or tradespeople and occasionally flooded squares, 'Politics of washing" gives us a realistic feel of what living in Venice means to an intelligent and highly observant person.

The book's 206 pages are divided into 14 chapters, comprising the twelve months of the year, a prologue and an epilogue. Chapter subheadings tell the reader what the beguiling, ironic and witty prose will describe. There are no purple descriptions or rose tinted spectacles, but a realistic account of pleasures and tribulations Polly has experienced. Despite some critical passages, her love of the place and her respect for, and fascination with, the Venetians and empathy with their problems, shines steadily through the easy to read text. This is a book about Venice like no other and can be read and re-read with pleasure before, during, or after a visit. If, dare I say it, you are experiencing a slight surfeit of Gothic and Renaissance, the 'Politics of washing' will refresh and energise you and amuse you all at the same time. An essential item for your luggage.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
Excellent, speedy delivery, thanks!
Published 1 month ago by Jill Bell
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 3 months 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 4 months 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 4 months 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 5 months ago by Awen
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
light read good humour
Published 6 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 6 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 7 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 7 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 8 months ago by Lee Shuardson
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