Page 11. " Of the Archangels of her Baptist childhood, Gabriel, Michael, Raphael, the latter had the most appeal. "
Archangel Raphael
Public DomainArchangel Raphael

In  Christian scripture, Archangel Gabriel is God's messenger (announcing to Mary that she will give birth to  Christ). Michael is the commander of God's troops, fighting the Dragon in the Book of Revelation. Raphael's name means  "God's healing."

Page 12. " But Miss Garnet, who was looking up, had caught the benevolent gaze of an angel. He was standing with a protective arm around what appeared to be a small boy carrying a large fish. "

 This is the Angel Raphael and the boy is Tobias, whose story begins on page 70 of the novel and runs alongside Miss Garnet's own. The statue stands above the door of the Chiesa dell'Angelo Raffaele on the waterfront. In the first picture below (left) you can see the quayside where Miss Garnet alighted from the water-taxi.

The church is marked '2' on the map at the back of the book (Afterword p. 7).       

Chiesa dell'Angelo Raffaele with waterfront
Public DomainChiesa dell'Angelo Raffaele with waterfront - Credit: wms




Raphael andTobias
Public DomainRaphael andTobias - Credit: wms
Page 12. " the brick bridge "

The Ponte de Cristo. See p.331 bookmark. 

A picture of this unimportant-looking brick bridge can be seen here

Page 17. " Amid them, magnificent in scarlet, blue and gold,walked three crowned kings. "

The procession, as Miss Garnet discovers later (p.23), is in honour of  Epiphany, which takes place on January 6th. This is  a Christian festival  commemorating the visit of the three kings, or magi, to the infant Jesus, and celebrating the showing forth of the child to the world.

Page 20. " from where the Doges of Venice had once set out to wed the seas with rings. "

St. Mark's Square is the main square of Venice (marked '5' on the map at the back of the book (Afterword p. 7).

St. Mark's Square, Venice, with Basilica of St Mark and campanile in background
Creative Commons AttributionSt. Mark's Square, Venice, with Basilica of St Mark and campanile in background - Credit: Xiquinho Silva

The Doges, or rulers, of Venice, whose palace (now a museum) overlooks the square, took part in "marriage of the sea" ceremonies to celebrate their maritime domination and pray for protection.


Doges' Palace looking onto St Mark's Square
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeDoges' Palace looking onto St Mark's Square - Credit: Tango7174
Page 20. " Ahead of her, like a vast soap bubble formed out of the circling, dove coloured mists, stood Santa Maria della Salute, the church which breasts the entrance to Venice's Grand Canal. "

The author's own first reaction to the sight of Santa Maria della Salute was as emotional as her heroine's: Salley Vickers "fell in love" when she saw it. (See "My Venice", p.8 of Afterword at the back of the book.)

Santa Maria della Salute
Creative Commons AttributionSanta Maria della Salute - Credit: Marius Fiskum

Page 21. " she had read about alchemy "

Alchemy is most often thought of as a means of attempting to turn base metal into gold, but it was also a philosophy and discipline, aimed at transforming the soul and attaining immortality. Carl Gustav Jung, the famous Swiss psychiatrist and one-time colleague of Freud wrote about it as such, and the author of "Miss Garnet" worked as a Jungian analytical psychologist. Perhaps the atheist, repressed Miss Garnet is unnerved by a subject that both hints at  the supernatural and suggests examination of the soul, and that is why she hurries past the window.

Page 21. " emerged the outline of St Marks "

Probably the most famous church in Venice, St Mark's Basilica is not the  cathedral.  It was originally the Doges' chapel. (See picture of St Mark's square, p.20 bookmark , above.) The campanile is the bell-tower.

Page 25. " 'Bellini!' he exclaimed, "

Giovanni Bellini, Italian Renaissance painter 1430-1516, painted several versions of the Virgin Mary with the infant Jesus. This one, described later (p.150) as having been stolen from the church of Madonna dell'Orto, is pictured here: Madonna and Child c.1480.

Bellini: Virgin and Child
Public DomainBellini: Virgin and Child