Today we talk about The priest and the Gondolier, a book by Mervyn Nel published with our publishing house Europe Books.
Europe Books had the pleasure of interviewing the author Mervyn Nel to get to know him better, what are the crucial themes of his novel The priest and the Gondolier, as well as how he chose the title of his book.
Below you can find our interview. Take a seat and enjoy your reading!!!
- What are the crucial themes of this novel?
The crucial theme to, The Priest and the Gondolier, is how the four main characters differ from each other but at the same time have similar values. Each has their own cultural background, upbringing and religious belief and yet, they find mutual respect that leads to trust and eventually a true and lasting friendship. First, we have Chief Superintendent Gina Rossi of the Italian Police. She has a strong work ethic but she also has an unfaltering belief in her colleagues that detracts from her investigation. Then we have Harry Wilson who does freelance work for Interpol and who is assigned to assist Chief Superintendent Rossi in her investigation. He is exceptionally intelligent and though he always has good intentions, at times he reads more into a situation than there is, which leads them to occasionally see things differently. Father Mancini is an elderly priest. He is an academic who has devoted his entire life to the work, praise and glory of God. Lastly, we have Sergio Alfano, a middle-aged gondolier who in his youth was Europe’s foremost art forger. He led a life of crime and now he is seeking forgiveness. Four vastly different people form a bond that enables them to solve the greatest crime that Venice has ever experienced.
- What do you want to communicate to readers with this work?
What I hope to convey is a message of acceptance, the ability to forgive, and the understanding that people can change. In the novel, Gina and Harry frequent Gina’s favourite restaurant in Venice. There Harry meets, Cosmo, a white and ginger cat that the owners of the establishment had taken in. It had been abandoned by its mother and was wondering around the lanes, frightened and hungry but the owners given it love and a home and in so doing, a second chance at life. In the novel, when Gina speaks to Harry about Sergio who is looking to change his ways, Gina uses the cat as a metaphor to explain that Sergio is also in need of a second chance at life. I also wish to convey the beauty and splendour of Venice. A city of canals, bridges and church spires. It is a city that sadly may not be there much longer due to continuous flooding. I urge everyone who has the means to visit the city at least once in their lives.
- How did you choose the title of the book?
During the months of winter, when the Venetian Lagoon is blanketed in fog and the aqua alta (high tide) comes in, Venice experiences a series of art heists. Paintings are stolen from museums and art galleries. Chief Superintendent Gina Rossi of the Italian Police and Harry Wilson, an art expert who does freelance work for Interpol in the United Kingdom are commissioned to investigate. The reason I chose the title, “The Priest and the Gondolier,” is that during their investigation, they receive help from two unlikely sources. The first is from Father Mancini, an elderly priest who translated an ancient manuscript from Latin into Italian and the second is from a middle-aged gondolier, Sergio Alfano, who in his youth was Europe’s foremost art forger. As their investigation deepens, Chief Superintendent Gina Rossi and Harry Wilson form a strong friendship with the priest and the gondolier and together they devise an ingenious plan to trap the thieves.
- What is the book that you are particularly attached to and what did it teach you?
Into Thin Air by John Krakauer. First published 1 May 1997. The nonfiction book is John Krakauer’s personal account of the 1996 Mount Everest disaster that saw eight climbers killed and several others stranded in a storm.In blinding snow, raging wind and freezing temperature, John Krakauer after his successful attempt at reaching the summit made it back to Camp IV. Blinded by snow, disorientated and exhausted from lack of sleep, he collapsed in his tent. When he awoke the following morning, he heard the devastating news that six of his fellow climbers hadn’t made it back and were fighting for their lives. When the storm finally passed, four were dead and two were near death. A rescue team assessed their condition and decided they were too far gone to survive the descent and were therefore left for dead. Later, one of the two miraculously recovered and made his way down to Camp IV. The book leaves one to pause on many aspects. The awesome might of nature, overcoming adversity, courage under extreme conditions and dealing with the personal tragedy of losing a loved one whose body will forever lie frozen on the windswept peaks of Mount Everest. The book also leaves the reader to reflect on humanity and the responsibility of one human being to another.
- Are you already working on a new project?
I am presently working on my latest literary work, “We will meet in Maribor.” It is a suspense thriller. It is a narrative of love and rivalry between the children of two families and the final act of revenge and betrayal by one of them. The story is set in present-day Slovenia but its origins are in a printing shop in Rostock, Germany in 1917 that was owned by the father of one of the families. Dr Hoffman brings in a manuscript for printing. He also brings 19 vials of his antibiotic for safekeeping. When Germany is ravaged by the Spanish flu, for fear of their safety, the children consume some of the antibiotic and over time they come to the horrible realisation that it has changed their lives. The novel ends in an explosive confrontation in a cable car high on the mist-covered slopes of Mt. Vogel when the great-grandchild of one of the families is kidnapped and held ransom in exchange for the manuscript. What secret does the manuscript contain and will its content finally be destroyed or will the world as we know it change and not for the better.
Europe Books thanks the author Mervyn Nel once again for taking the time and answering our questions. We are really pleased to have walked alongside him on the editorial path that led to the publication of his book The priest and the Gondolier. We wish him the best of luck for his book and for his future works.
To you, my dear reader, may this book allow you to understand that we can all have a second chance in life and to try to remind this even when everything seems to be going in the wrong direction.
So, my dear reader, all I have to say is to enjoy your reading!