Pippa Passes

Anyone who has followed this blog for a while will know how much I adore and admire Rumer Godden's writing. So you can imagine my delight when I discover a novel of hers that I haven't read yet.

Alas, Pippa Passes (after a poem by Browning) is not one of Godden's masterpieces. Shy, naive Pippa has come to magical Venice as a member of the company's corps de ballet. They are only staying for a fortnight, but what a crowded two weeks for Pippa, who is disgraced, promoted, wooed, falls in love, almost raped, adopted by the aristocracy and finds she can choose between two vocations, dancing or singing!

The descriptions of Venice are gorgeous, though they felt dated to me, even though the novel was published in 1994, four years after my last visit (that is so sad). Pippa's marvelling at Italian panini and tiramisu, her timid reserve, her shocked response to a lesbian advance, all felt more like a fifties novel than one set in the 1990s. And yes, sadly, there is a wicked lesbian character who can't be trusted to be around young girls ever again -- I groaned, which is not something I often do when reading Rumer Godden!

I'll keep it in my collection as a hymn to Venice, but this one is not going to be a favourite.

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