From a childhood in the company of her New Jersey family, with frequent visits to her grandfather's farm and its beloved animals and summers spent selling homegrown tomatoes by the roadside, Leon has long been open to adventure.
In 1976, she made the spontaneous decision to teach English in Iran, before finding herself swept up in the early days of the 1979 Revolution. After teaching stints in China and Saudi Arabia, she finally landed in Venice. Leon vividly animates her decades-long love affair with Italy, from her first magical dinner when serving as a "chaperone" to a friend, to the hunt for the perfect cappuccino, to the warfare tactics of grandmothers doing their grocery shopping at the Rialto Market.
Some things remain constant throughout the decades: her adoration of opera, especially Handel's vocal music, her advocacy for the environment, embodied in her passion for bees - which informs the surprising crux of the Brunetti mystery in Earthly Remains - and her eager imagination for crime as she watches unsuspecting travelers on trains. Yet as Leon inspects the cracks in the wall of a friend's bedroom, caused by the seven-story cruise ships making their way down Venice's canals, she admits regretfully that the thrill may be gone as mass tourism renders the city less and less appealing to its longtime chronicler. Having recently celebrated her eightieth birthday, Leon now confronts the dual challenges and pleasures of aging.
Complete with a brief letter dissuading those hoping to meet Guido Brunetti at the Questura, and always suffused with music, food, and her fierce sense of humor, Wandering Through Life offers Donna Leon at her most personal.