Cover of Where is Susan?Where is Susan?

Jane Shaw
May 2006, 173pp, ISBN 978 09552973 2 8
£12.99 (includes p&p in the UK)

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Where is Susan? is set in a new destination for Jane Shaw, Venice. Susan and her cousin Midge arrive there expecting to meet Charlotte and spend a few days exploring before welcoming Susan’s parents off the ship which has brought them from Africa. Susan, rendered even more excitable than usual by the prospect of seeing her parents after three years, is heart-broken when she learns that their ship is in quarantine because of suspected yellow fever, and the pair are startled to find that their hotel has no record of their booking. Susan, naturally, falls on her feet and the two girls find refuge with the charming sister of a gondolier. Meanwhile, Charlotte is combing the city for her sister and cousin. The introduction of the ghastly Gascoignes, in Venice for the ‘Bean-alley’ (Susan’s version of the Biennale), ensures Susan and Midge have a difficult time avoiding them while trying to find Charlotte and the Lyles. In the end, of course, everyone is reunited after Susan’s successful capture of a hotel thief.

As with all Jane Shaw’s books, the charm of the story is enhanced by the lively descriptions of setting. The essential elements of Venetian life, like pizza, gondoliers, pigeons and expensive cafes in Piazza San Marco all feature. The Gascoignes are as frightful as ever, although Peregrine (Pea-green to his friends) has developed a taste for Nuttella spread which he shares with the girls. Frantic chases across the city by foot, gondolier and vaporetto are required in order to reunite one of Charlotte’s newly-acquired young men with a valuable stamp which the beautiful but slightly incompetent spy placed in Susan’s papers for safe-keeping. Readers familiar with Susan will know this is about the silliest move any one could make!

To learn more about Jane Shaw's life and the archive of her personal papers, now deposited in the National Library of Scotland, click here. To read the opening chapters of The Man at the Villa Carlotta, an unfinished manuscript by Jane Shaw, click here. To view maps of the sites where Jane Shaw's books are set, drawn by Elsepth Insch, click here.

Have you read Susan and Friends: The Jane Shaw Companion?

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