Set in London and Venice at the end of the twentieth century, The Honeymoon follows a young man’s journey into his own past and the strange events that caused his life to unravel. American-born Gordon Garraty spent much of his childhood traveling through the capitals of Europe with his eccentric mother Maureen. As Maureen worked on her interminable art guide, Gordon recorded their journeys with his camera. Only later, while working in London as a freelance photographer, did Gordon begin to emerge from his mother’s influence—and meet Annie.
Several years his senior and the daughter of a North London cabbie, Annie is Gordon’s first love—and after a dizzying courtship, his wife. But when they take a honeymoon in Venice, Gordon and Annie are accompanied by Maureen and her new Swiss fiancé. The brilliance of the city seems to distort rather than illuminate. Jealousy, suspicion, and conflicting desires rise to a palpable intensity before a single act of absurd but devastating violence lays bare the emptiness at the core of their gilded lives.
I really enjoyed this part of the novel “One final glimpse from the portal window, from the gangplank, or the railing. The separation always feels like forever. And the protest is always the same, ‘But I haven’t seen enough. I am not full up! I would like to have seen a little more of Paris. One more afternoon coffee on the St Andre de Arts. One more morning in the Musee Rodin.’ Or, ‘Another day in London is all I ask. If I were to get up early and have just a sandwich for lunch I could do two museums in a day…One more afternoon in Madrid admist the Goyas and Picassos, if you please. One more lazy afternoon in Rome. One more gondola ride in Venice…It is here that I have felt most alive, most in love. Here where my eyes are open.’ And it feels that life is not possible, it cannot go on at home in normal circumstances and indeed it cannot!…I pity you…The only solace is that the door is not shut behind you. There is no rush. No haste required. For no matter the crowd that beats you back there, Europe will look fresh and new to the proper viewer. To friendly eyes, she will part the curtains and reveal…the same quality that has attracted visitors and the greatest artist since these cities began: inspiration.”
I think it describes the romance that one can have with a city or a place. This book spends a lot of time with characters that spend so much time falling in love with the art and world around them they miss what it is to love each other. I was expecting more of a romance but the book was more melancholic and at times sad and in a way it is the perfect travel companion. Travel in many ways is a solo journey. No matter the partner you go with the place and how you experience it is something only you can describe.
I wish I had spent more time looking up the paintings referenced in the book as parts of it would have enhanced the reading experience.