This book is a textbook lesson in how to structure a themed collection of fiction. Find a fuzzy link, one that gives you space to breathe. As you get into your stride, appear not to follow this link too slavishly: throw in a little white where you had black, day for night – allow yourself contrast. Then, as you’re winding down, go back and join the dots a little, so that a reader will know what to say when asked what the book is about.
In this case the reader may say, ‘Oh I don’t know, it’s about lots of things. Music and musicians. Jazz. Success and failure. Love, Venice, gondolas. It’s about piazzas where underpaid cellists play the same old songs; weary couples in Italy or the Malvern hills, arguing their way across whole continents. People who haven’t yet got where they aim to be, but who somehow keep trying.’