The Malta Independent 15 August 2022, Monday

By the book

Friday, 23 March 2018, 12:00 Last update: about 5 years ago

When wandering through its streets, shops, sites, galleries and eating places is still not enough, we can always read all about it. Valletta can be explored, enjoyed and rediscovered in the many books, from fact to fiction in which the city appears. Here are just a few, available online or in local bookshops.

The Phantom of Valletta by Vicki Hopkins

Echoing the plot of the deservedly long-running musical The Phantom of the Opera this novel imagines Erik's life after he releases Christine so she can marry Raul. Before his despair completely engulfs him. an opportunity presents itself.

He leaves Paris and moves to Malta where he secretly purchases an opera house that has been almost destroyed by fire. This is the Royal Opera House in Valletta. Accompanied the servant, Darius, and his long-time friend Madame Andrea he sets about restoring the theatre and having his very own Opera House. His new obsession proves a huge success but a new cast of characters enter his life and a thickening  plot is woven with an abundance of romance, mystery, and danger that fills this Gothic tale with suspense.

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Valletta - Lost City - Memories of Places and Times Vol 1 by Giovanni Bonello

 

This lavish book preserves the images of the Valletta we have either lost or are in grave danger of losing. Many of the treasures are in illustrations which have never been published before. Here we have a Valletta that is long gone. Yet from when time in the city passed quietly by to now, when our days are gone before we know it, the past still echoes everywhere within its boundaries and buildings. And we find it also in over 1,000 images, paintings, engravings and photos from the past 150 years that have been lovingly collated to create this invaluable volume.

 

The City of Valletta

There are 11 sections to this magnificent book and each has its own introduction. Covering the city from the impressive St John's Co-Cathedral, churches, palaces, museums, streets and alleys to the Grand Harbour, the streets and more through photographs shot mostly in 360º, it captures the splendor and character that have led to its recognition as a European Capital of Culture.

An addition to this book is a collection of five specially designed stamps and the special Maltapost stamp sheet commemorating the 450th Anniversary of the Foundation of Valletta.

Strada Stretta by George Cini

Here is the consummate account of one of Valletta's most infamous and fascinating areas, giving us a wonderful experience of the people who lived and worked in the street and those who visited in its heyday, often from first hand and personal accounts. The colour, sights and sounds of the bars, and service men who frequented them, are brought to life with great realism and a real affection for the area and its place in the city's social history. There are Maltese and English editions of the book which is also wonderfully illustrated.

Strait Street - An irresistible invitation, also by George Cini, brings us highly informative and amusing interviews with people who lived in the street during its heydays, when the environment and activities taking place were often at odds with the demands and conditions which they, as devout Catholics, were meant to uphold.

The basic, honest and realistic stories of how they reconciled tainted reputations and the need to earn a living with remaining essentially decent citizens is a what makes this book so gripping. It is also an account of particular lives and times that we won't find anywhere else and one that we really should discover.

Imagine 18 and Bid Book brings us right up to date but will soon be a part of the city's literary collection. Under the working title V.18, it charts Valletta's candidacy and final application of Valletta for the title of European Capital of Culture, 2018. It follows the development of the Valletta 2018 bid from the first idea to its acceptance; the proposed Cultural Programme for 2018 and the legacy planned for its future. The four themes, Generations, Routes, Cities and Islands are the four themes around which the programme is structured, but not all events and projects not fit exclusively into a certain themes. So there is a fluidity that links projects with each other within and across the four themes.

The Maltese version of Imagine 18 can be downloaded. 

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