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The Politics of Washing: Real Life in Venice

3.12 of 5 stars 3.12  ·  rating details  ·  66 ratings  ·  21 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
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
Teresa Osgood
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
Biblio Files
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
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.
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
Heather Duff
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
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
Nancy Dardarian
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.
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
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
When Coles and her family move from England to Venice, they realize there will be some adjusting to do. But they have no idea just how different their lives will be. Readers are regaled with tales of a city that still celebrates the end of the Black Death, a plague that ended centuries ago. They live in a city where children don’t go to modern built schools, they attend classes in crumbling palaces. You can get new appliances and furniture, but they will b
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
Mary Rocco
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
I thought this was going to be another "middle class English woman moves to Mediterranean country, barely speaks the language and has hilarious adventures with a variety of quaint locals".

But actually it was a really interesting take on what makes modern urban life so unsustainable and what we could learn from how Venetians are forced to live by the peculiarities of their city.
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.
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
Susan McGilvray
If you've ever been to Venice and fallen in love with it, you will enjoy this book!
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
Fazackerly Toast
didn't like the writer, who seems up herself, but she certainly makes an impassioned plea for the saving of Venice and I've bought JJ Norwich's History of Venice, which I'm really looking forward to reading.
Julie Goring
Beautifully written. Insightful and passionate. A good read for anyone who has ever visited this beautiful city
Sue Smith
Interesting and amusing account of a year in Venice.
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