Journey from Venice by Ruth Cracknell
I don’t think I’ve read a memoir since Louis Nowra’s The Twelfth of Never (highly recommended in my hazy recollection…). I have such fond memories of watching Ruth Cracknell as ‘Mummy Bear’ in Mother and Son as I was growing up and was saddened to learn of her death a few years ago. When I saw this orange Penguin edition on a trip back to Australia I just had to buy it.
Ruth and her husband Eric escape their busy lives and plan the trip of a lifetime in Venice. Not long into their trip Eric becomes ill and is quickly admitted into intensive care. This memoir charts the final months Ruth and Eric have together.
First Impressions: Ruth Cracknell has a unique writing style with interesting sentence construction. However, I was just as seduced with Venice as she was and found this short memoir hard to put down.
Highlights: The first half was lovely. Despite Eric’s illness and quick demise, Cracknell made me fall in love with Venice all over again: the architecture, the art, the food and restaurants, the Venetians themselves… For a rather depressing subject matter it made me want to book a flight! Cracknell also has a wry humour and her account of Eric’s hearing aid which included her using a profanity was great. Cracknell is keenly observant and often poignant – the vista of the cemetery that can be seen from the hospital has stuck with me.
If I was an editor: I would point out that the second half wasn’t quite as gripping although as it recounts Eric’s demise back in Sydney this is hardly surprising. I did feel I was with Cracknell counting down the days but also trying to still time. I became a bit confused with all the people dropping in and out, visiting Eric for what may be the last time, but no doubt this mirrors the chaos Cracknell was going through herself. For the life of me I couldn’t remember who Kirily was and despite flipping back I couldn’t find out.
Overall: I couldn’t put it down. I learnt a lot about Cracknell’s personality; she is no Maggie Bear!
Journey From Venice: 4 stars