By Sally Vickers.
“those who give you life may take it back, and in the taking
take from you more than they gave” – Julia Garnet.
Miss Julia Garnet, of indeterminate age, certainly past her child bearing years, had been a school teacher. It seems she was a competent, but probably uninspiring, teacher of history. Now retired everything changes for her when her friend, with whom she had shared a flat for thirty years, dies.
Most uncharacteristically after living her safe and protected life with her friend Harriet, Julia Garnet goes to Venice for six months after her friend’s death. As she explores Venice some of the art she encounters tells the story of the book of Tobit, found in the Catholic Bible, not in the Anglican Bible canon, but in the apocrypha. She becomes fascinated by the story of Tobit and especially by the angel in the story, Raphael.
Miss Garnet’s stay in Venice opens her eyes not just to art and a renewed interest in the history she taught for so many years, but also to life, before it became too late for her to live it.
During her stay she meets Carlo, an art dealer with whom she falls in love, but as ever love does not run smoothly. There are the ‘twins’ Toby and Sarah, restoring the Chapel-of-the-Plague. A Canadian couple, the Cutforths, whom after being berated by Julia on the first meeting for jumping the water taxi queue become her friends. And the is the ugly little retired priest Monsignor Giuseppe.
Julia Garnet’s first ‘encounter’ with the angel Raphael, was as she disembarked the the water taxi on her arrival where she was staying in Venice. Later the ‘twins’ show Julia an old work of art they find while they are working in Chapel-of-the-Plague. It also includes a depiction of the angel Raphael drawing he further into Tobit’s story.
Sally Vickers entwines Julia Garnet’s ‘awakening’ with the the story of Tobit which she tells alongside that of Julia. It’s a gentle, easy going story but nonetheless a tale that kept my interest to the end as Julia Garnet’s life expanded.
That it is based around a Bible story should not be an excuse by those not of Christian faith to read it, who would miss out on a satisfying read.
“It is one of the better things about the Catholic Church
that it is not at all rational” – Monsignor Giuseppe.
That Miss Garnet’s Angel is related to a biblical story should not put the