Wednesday, October 22, 2014

DEAR DONNA LEON (AND COLIN FIRTH, TOO!)



Dear Donna Leon,
I can't believe it took me this long to find you. Nearly 68 years, to be somewhat precise. And now, having just finished the last of your available Brunetti novels, I have very mixed emotions.

I never expected to be spending the first few months of leave from my academic appointment--my first significant period away from teaching--falling for Brunetti. I haven't read much in this genre since I was a teenager on the prowl for steamy scenes in Mickey Spillane. I was supposed to be spending this time off my Ivy League treadmill working on my own writing, instead of my usual work of helping others to write. But I could not stop myself. (SeeON CONFESSING TO SOME ODD LOVE AFFAIRS:THE THRILL OF THE  )

You know how in Alice in Wonderland, the King said gravely that one is supposed to begin at the beginning "and go on till you come to the end: then stop"? Well, I started at the beginning of your oeuvre, and here I am.

Here's how it happened. My 85-year-old writing partner who knew of my fascination with Montalbano offered to lend me some of the Camilleri novels in translation. She knew that I had seen all the tv versions, and was looking forward to comparing them to the books. My attraction to them had also taken me by surprise, but I put it down to the allure of Sicily, where I've never been, and to the superior acting on the shows. But then she had the idea to include a few Brunetti novels, saying simply, "I think you might like these." I was skeptical, but she certainly got that right! I started with the first one, Death at La Fenice, and never stopped. 



Now I'm in mourning as I impatiently await the publication of "Falling in Love" which will not be out until January. How will I make it until then?

PS:When I first heard there were tv versions of your novels, I was very excited. I was ready to spring for them, but when I saw that they were made for German audiences, I became suspicious.

I had already put some thought into visualizing Brunetti and the rest of the characters. It's both a good and bad thing that I saw a trailer for the series before opening my wallet. The euros I saved in no way made up for the shock and disappointment of seeing a Brunetti so unlike my evolving image of him. I might have forgiven him for spouting German if he had looked right.
It's just as well that this is so blurry, because NO, NO, NO, NEIN, NEIN, NEIN, this is NOT the right Brunetti!


Flash forward to the even more exciting possibility that the BBC will handle things better. As an Orvietana with no knowledge of Venetian dialect, I won't mind a bit hearing a Brunetti who speaks BBC-style English. And as a writing and literature prof who loves Henry James, I'm especially eager to see what they make of Paola.

After much consideration, in my fantasy world as casting director in possession of magical powers and an unlimited budget, I would go for Colin Firth as Brunetti. After seeing  him in many different guises--from Mr. Darcy to King George to the gay singing beau in Mamma Mia--I sense that he has the range and right blend of respectfulness, informed skepticism, and toughness to fill your Brunetti's shoes.

Although Firth speaks the King's English, it doesn't hurt that he has long lived in Italy with his Italian wife and family. In somma, he's the one I want. Somebody needs to make him an offer he can't refuse.




I haven't yet found just the right image of Colin Firth as Brunetti (it's floating around somewhere in my mind's eye), but I'm confident that he's the man for the job.


PPS: As much as I admire your discretion about your private life, I would love to know more about your involvement with Baroque music. A lifelong musician (piano and flute) who came late to the viola, I cherish  the memory of an exquisite chamber music concert in a Venice church. After the concert when we found ourselves waiting for the same vaporetto as the musicians,  I shyly told the violist I was a fellow altista who had loved her performance. She was very gracious, as I imagine that Brunetti, despite being no lover of annoying turisti, would have been, had I expressed my fascination with him. He is a true gentleman.


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