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The Politics of Washing: Real Life in Venice
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The Politics of Washing: Real Life in Venice

3.13  ·  Rating Details ·  142 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
A riveting account of ordinary life in an extraordinary place, packed with charming anecdotes that will have readers hooked on Venetian lifeThe 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 a hospital, or to set off for school one ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published April 1st 2014 by Robert Hale (first published March 1st 2013)
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Italo Italophiles
Nov 22, 2014 Italo Italophiles rated it liked it
The Politics of Washing, a memoirs of one year of living in Venice of an Anglo-Italian family, is by an author (the wife) who twists herself into impossible contortions to become an apologist for unforgivable Venetian bad behavior. So many statements in the book begin "There is no excuse for this sort of behavior, but..." There are many "buts" in the 200 page book. And none of the "buts" are valid. There REALLY IS NO EXCUSE for the Venetians' behavior.

The move of the couple, she English, he Ital
Jan 10, 2015 Stuart rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography-memoir
I was hoping for a book about daily life in modern Venice, but instead this book was a depressing collection of snapshots depicting Venetian hatred of tourists and stereotype characterizations of foreigners and locals.

If you want to visit Venice, this book will definitely do little to encourage you. Yes, I know Venice is truly burdened by the flood of tourists and the depopulation of everyday life, but the author forgets that Venice without visitors would not be able to sustain its beauty and "m
Teresa Osgood
Jun 06, 2014 Teresa Osgood rated it it was ok
A friend asked what I was reading as I began this book. When I told her it was a book about Venice, she said, "Oh, are you planning a trip?" "That would be nice," I answered. That was before I realized that the main idea of this book is "Venice is drowning in tourists. STAY AWAY!" While the beginning of the book relates interesting, practical details of living in such a unique location, this preachy agenda is firmly in place by the middle, and continues relentlessly to the end.

A page near the en
Apr 22, 2014 Rebecca rated it did not like it
Couldn't finish. Described as a "riveting account", but I can't agree. Everything was written in an overly melodramatic style, when really much more straightforward manner would have sufficed. Perhaps, had I progressed more than a third of the way through the book, I may have found it more enjoyable.
Heather Duff
Apr 16, 2014 Heather Duff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Biblio Files
Jun 22, 2013 Biblio Files rated it liked it
Everyone who's ever visited Venice has probably thought, even if only briefly, of what it would be like to live in the city. Even allowing for the reality of occasional flooding and tourist crowds, it still seems like a magnificently romantic place to live.

On the other hand, if you wait until you have four children, ages 12 and under, the experience might be somewhat different. Polly Coles, a Londoner, and her Italian husband make that ambitious move, and it makes for a change from the typical r
Sep 15, 2014 Kit rated it it was amazing
I bought this book at Foyles in London (the new one! they've moved up the street--very nice new digs) because I'd read a review of it in the TLS. I tear out book titles from the TLS and save them up for my next trip to London and then I hand over all these little scraps of newsprint to the helpful people there and end up with a lovely pile of new books to read.
Polly Coles, the author, is a British woman married to a Venetian. They have 4 kids and mostly live in England, but this book is about t
Mar 05, 2014 Vickstar rated it really liked it
Shelves: travel
Engaging, witty and an interesting and unexpected look at urban design, sustainability and liveable cities. Although this book masquerades as travel writing along the lines of Driving over Lemons, it swiftly moves into deeper territory than just providing entertaining vignettes of what it is like to live in Venice to an exploration of what kind of life can be lived in Venice and how the design of Venice itself shapes day to day life. The author presents the dichotomy of a heritage pastiche touri ...more
Blue Mountains Library
Polly and her Italian husband go to live in his home town of Venice with their four children for a year. Polly describes the difficulties of living on a water bound city which is difficult to navigate – you can’t drive your car right up to your front door you see. The city flooded by tourists for a large proportion of the year and because of them life in Venice for locals is too expensive and they are being driven out by high rental prices. This was a point Polly drove home very forcefully. So f ...more
Nancy Dardarian
Mar 13, 2014 Nancy Dardarian rated it really liked it
Enjoyed this book so much... highlighted my way through it as there is so much good writing and so many of her experiences could translate to Mexico.
May 06, 2014 Pam rated it it was ok
I was really QUITE disappointed w/ this...from an 'outsider's' point of view perhaps this was charming and thoughtful, but I am an American, living in Venice for one year (who has also spent many interim and shorter visits here). I am always interested in others in my position and their view but Ms. Coles seems definitely to be wandering through Venice with this 'future' book theme on her mind and sees negatives and sadness where I definitely do not.

She seems to be either hell-bent on imposing H
Oct 28, 2014 Sandra rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs, non-fiction
This book was on our libraries New Books Shelf. It called to me, as Venice is one of only two places that I keep saying, wouldn't it be fun to live there for a few months, let a flat, discover the city more, and see what it is really all about? This short book, written more like a diary, quickly disabused me of any such idea. It seems, perhaps, that nothing is easy. Acqua Alta (high water} is a much bigger problem than us tourists are led to believe. The city comes to a standstill during very hi ...more
Feb 04, 2015 Anne rated it liked it
It was interesting to read what changes for a person who goes from being a tourist to a resident. I like these kind of stories because it takes some of the gilding off the travel stories, but adds the depth of real people, everyday dilemmas, and modern conundrums played out over ancient places.
May 23, 2014 Gordon rated it liked it
If you love going to Venice as a tourist – as I do – then this a book you should probably avoid. Polly Jones spent a year there with her children and Italian husband, and this book is her observation on how tourists are seen by the locals. There are lots of interesting cameo mini-essays, describing how children play together, the place of the church, the changing shops, leisure activities and, of course, the way hanging washing impacts on Venetian households and their neighbours. It's an easy re ...more
Jan 05, 2015 Michele rated it it was ok
Venice is one of my favourite cities. I've actually been there, on a school trip when I was 14, and have always wanted to go back. This desire has been fed by the many books set in Venice that I've read over the years. I know that Venice is not the romantic dream place of many of the books I've read. However, this book could stand as a dream crusher. It's as if the author is trying to negate all the good press Venice has, to save it for the real Venetians. The whole book is a series of interesti ...more
Mary Rocco
Jun 11, 2014 Mary Rocco rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I find Venice fascinating and wonderful, so I love stories about living there. Of course, like with most books written by expats living in Italy, I have an uncharitable amount of seething envy that they have the wherewithal to do so. It seems so easy for them, financially and otherwise. So, I resent them while I lap up their accounts of the life there. Also, there is a certain British snootiness, an air of cultural/educational superiority (despite the author's self-pr ...more
Kathy T.
Jul 29, 2016 Kathy T. rated it really liked it
Beautifully written with humor as well. Can't wait to go to Venice!!
Mar 30, 2015 Kerry rated it really liked it
Polly Coles spent a year living with her Italian husband and children in Venice, a place most people only visit for holidays. This isn’t a travel book about a romantic weekend, it’s about the difficulty of getting a washing machine delivered when the canals are at high water and there’s no lift in the building.

Coles gets increasingly frustrated with the surging crowds of tourists that block her way to the supermarket and her son’s school, and never seem to go away, no matter what time of year.
Feb 16, 2015 Jen rated it really liked it
This author's elegant and descriptive writing style captured subtleties and nuance in Venetian living. I really enjoyed the care she took in crafting the stories of this book. She is in Venice with her family, but this book is not about them. She delves into her inner life as well as her interactions with the environment around her. She also delves into politics as well and I appreciated her speaking the truth about totalitarian states and that millions of people have been murdered as a result o ...more
Alisa Kester
Aug 06, 2014 Alisa Kester rated it it was ok
I'm left unsure how to rate this. The writing is lovely, and the book contains many interesting views on Venice (and Italians in general) that I've never heard before. However, the author's unrelenting vendetta against tourism gets old very quickly, and by the end I was skimming because I found her so annoying.
Jul 29, 2014 Joggingt rated it liked it
The concept is good. It gave me, a prior visitor, to Venice, insight to the undercurrents of the population. I really didn't have any idea as it must be very subtle. Milan, not so much!!!the book was a little fragmented and redundant but because of the message I really wanted to complete it
Jan 15, 2015 Marie rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, travel
Daily life in Venice beyond what the tourists see - a bit depressing (one suspects the author has a slightly more pessimistic view on Venice's fate than is warranted), but also, I never realized just how difficult a city it is to get around it, especially if one is old, disabled, or hampered by small children.
Aug 03, 2015 Trina rated it liked it
Goes to life in Venice with her family- the theme that Venice is overwhelmed by tourism is beaten like the proverbial dead horse. She redeems herself towards the end in that there's the sense in the closing chapters that she actually does love the place
Aug 28, 2015 Susan rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, travel
I was somewhat discouraged by the tone of the memoir. We plan to visit Venice soon as tourists and I already feel sorry for imposing on the natives.
Susan McGilvray
Aug 03, 2014 Susan McGilvray rated it really liked it
If you've ever been to Venice and fallen in love with it, you will enjoy this book!
Jul 24, 2013 Karen rated it really liked it
Interesting read. There was a transition from observer to inhabitant for the writer and the book was increasingly absorbing as I read. Polly Coles works with the BBC and I wondered whether this was the reason that the writing felt a little distant in the early parts of the book.
Her writing is wonderful but the observational style means that the book is apparently less structured. This may have been my problem rather than the book's. It didn't seem to matter as the book moved on and I gained a cl
Jul 22, 2015 Shana rated it liked it
It had its moments, but overall just ok
Kate Reilly
Aug 01, 2015 Kate Reilly rated it it was ok
And Im being generous, boring as all hell.
Jackie G
Apr 01, 2015 Jackie G rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the insider/outsider point of view on this great city.
Rachel Painting
Dec 27, 2015 Rachel Painting rated it liked it
If you're planning a trip to Venice, this is a good book to leaf through. The first few chapters were great but then it gets repetitive. The author writes as an expert in Venetian life but, in reality, she only lived there for a year.
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