Review Unto us a son is given – Donna Leon
The story of ‘Unto us a son is given’ tells the story of a police officer Guido Brunetti, who lives and works in Venice, Italy. Brunetti is happily married to Paola and they have two children, both teenagers. As with every Italian story family is important.
Father in law
So when Brunetti’s father in law, Count Falier, asks him to do him a favor he cannot refuse. The older man has a lot of influence in town and besides a title, he owns a lot of property. With all this wealth comes considerable standing. But even with all that he asks Brunetti for help in a delicate matter. His best friend, Gonzales, is about to make the mistake of his life.
Can Guido Brunetti help the Count by talking to Gonzales and help him change his mind? Brunetti can only try. Gonzales is an elderly gentleman, who has made his fortune in the art world. Never married, he’s gay and openly so, Gonzales has a few brothers and sisters whom he never sees and lost touch with.
Now Gonzales wants to adopt his much younger lover. In Italian law, the children inherit the wealth of their parents. All of Gonzales’ friends (including the Count) find it appalling to know his vast riches will go to some ‘gold-digging’ young man. Brunetti is pretty much the only person who believes Gonzales should do what he wants to do with his money. But he made a promise to the Count.
Then Gonzales suddenly gets a stroke and dies. Berta, one of his best friends comes over to Venice to organise a memorial service. Nobody has ever heard of Berta before and when she is found dead in the hotel room some answers from the past come to light.
The story is well written. I love to feel the charm of Italy throughout the book. The way the characters interact, the description of the beautiful city of Venice, the day-to-day business of taking the boat to wherever you want to go and the numerous cups of coffee people drink during the day and night.
She was born in New Jersey but lived in Venice since 1985 for 30 years. Now she lives in Switzerland. She studied English in Italy and fell in love with Venice. All her books are situated in this beautiful town. She wrote in English. Her many books were translated into different languages but never in Italian. That seems odd, since the stories all happen in Italy. The reason she decided to keep them from the Italian people is because this way she feels more free to write about some of the malpractices in the Italian police force.