Inside little blue envelope 1 are $1,000 and instructions to buy a plane ticket.
In envelope 2 are directions to a specific London flat.
The note in envelope 3 tells Ginny: Find a starving artist.
Because of envelope 4, Ginny and a playwright/thief/ bloke–about–town called Keith go to Scotland together, with somewhat disastrous–though utterly romantic–results. But will she ever see him again?
Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it’s all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.
There probably isn’t much in this book, depth-wise, but I really enjoyed it. It struck a chord with me. I loved seeing how Ginny changed and how much she learned about life and herself along the way. The things she did and saw during this trip were things she never would have done/saw without her aunt’s nudging, and while at times, she’s really frustrated with the whole situation, she does realize what a gift she’s received. This struck a chord with me specifically because in 1999, I took off for France on a six-week school summer program despite all obstacles (my boyfriend begging me not to go, the need to take out my first ever student loan, my fear that I wouldn’t know enough of the language, the fact that I have never been a risktaker of any sort…). I almost didn’t go to France that summer, but something told me I had to, I had to take that risk, and once I did, I ended up having so many adventures. Those six weeks abroad were probably the best time I’ve ever had in my life, and also contained some of the scariest moments. I could really understand all the fear and confusion Ginny experiences in this book, as well as the jubilation and fun.
As for negative points, I could only find one. At one point, Ginny and a couple friends she’s picked up along the way are headed towards a dock in Venice to take a boat to Greece. When the train arrives in Venice, they are in a big hurry, so they jump into a cab and speed through the roads to the dock. Wrong. Unless things have changed drastically since I was there in 1999, there are no cars in Venice. None. There are certainly no taxis, except for the water taxis (i.e. boats). Most of the “streets” are made of water. There is only one thoroughfare that I can remember that would even be big enough for a car to drive on, and it’s full of pedestrians. All the side streets that aren’t water aren’t much bigger than a sidewalk. I know Johnson has traveled around a lot, but I get the impression that she hadn’t been to Venice before writing this book. Or maybe she just didn’t expect people to know. Anyway, it’s a plothole, one that I didn’t appreciate in a book where every other city seems to be described in meticulous detail. I want to believe all those details are true, despite the single detail given about Venice being false. They felt real, anyway.
But really, that little negative isn’t such a big deal. Unfortunate, but it didn’t mar the book. If I hadn’t been to Venice, I wouldn’t have even noticed. I had a lot of fun with this. I liked Ginny, I liked a lot of the other characters, and I liked the things she came to realize about herself and her aunt by the end. It was an all around fun book, and I will probably read more by Johnson.