Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

The Sixteen Pleasures

Posted by nliakos on July 14, 2012

by Robert Hellenga (1989; Delta 1995)

One of the joys of being on vacation is being able to devote long hours to reading. I read this one in a single day. It tells the story of American book conservator Margot Harrington (Didn’t I just read a novel about a book conservator?) who travels to Florence in 1966 to help clean up after the Arno floods. She discovers a unique book in a convent she lives and works in. She has a love affair with an older man and thinks it will last forever. When it doesn’t, she focuses on the book, eventually shepherding it to Sotheby’s in London.

Along the way, the reader learns a lot about what life was like in Florence after the flood,  conservators’ techniques for restoring damaged books and art, what it’s like to live in a Carmelite convent, and how a Sotheby’s auction is run.

The book certainly kept my attention, but when I finished it, I confess I felt a kind of disappointment, like “Is that all?”

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