A madcap adventure abroad about a nice Quaker boy from Dartmouth who falls in love—twice—in Venice, which takes on the air of a perpetual Carnival in novelist Leviant’s (The Man Who Thought He Was the Messiah, 1990) magical telling. If you—re an American in Venice, you—re naturally hoping for romance, just as you hope for a good table at Harry’s or a room overlooking the Grand Canal. So it is with Tommy Manning, who first visits the city on a summer vacation, having just graduated from Dartmouth in 1967. He falls in love, first, with the city itself (—It’s like sitting inside a poem—), and then with Zoe, another American whom he meets outside the American Express office. Twenty-five years later, he falls in love with Happy, whom he meets in the Piazza San Marco. Happy has been living in the city for some while, working as an au pair at a pensi¢ne where she gets her meals and room for free. She grew up in Albany, but her mother is part gypsy and Happy has picked up a number of useful skills from her. Like fortune-telling, which she excels at, and casting spells. She can also make herself invisible, and she knows a lot about kinky sex. Sometimes when Tommy is with Happy, he looks into her face and sees . . . Zoe. Just a trick of memory, or is something stranger going on? Plenty of strange happenings are taking place as it is, including appearances by Jack Benny (in a vaporetto) and the 300-year-old Chief Rabbi of Venice (who becomes a kind of guide to the confused Tommy). And what was the story with Zoe, anyhow? Why does Tommy feel he’s betrayed her? Stories that proceed backward may violate the laws of logic and Aristotelian aesthetics, but they can make sense of a sort. Messy and ill-conceived, but told with such unaffected sincerity and infectious delight that it becomes a real joy to read.