Venice, 1945. The war may be waning, but the city known as La Serenissima is still occupied and the people of Italy fear the power of the Third Reich. One night, under a canopy of stars, a fisherman named Cenzo comes across a young woman’s body floating in the lagoon and soon discovers that she is still alive and in trouble.
Born to a wealthy Jewish family, Giulia is on the run from the SS. Cenzo chooses to protect Giulia rather than hand her over to the Nazis. This act of kindness leads them into the world of Partisans, random executions, the arts of forgery and high explosives, Mussolini’s broken promises, the black market and gold, and, everywhere, the enigmatic maze of the Venice Lagoon.
GENRE: Historical Fiction, WWII
REVIEW: I want to thank Dayle for providing me with a copy of this ARC. It was a pleasure to review and in no way influenced my rating.
After being immersed in textbooks and children’s books these past couple of months The Girl from Venice was a refreshing read.
Set in occupied Venice, I found the historical aspects of the novel interesting. However, it can be slightly confusing to those who are not familiar with the last remnants of WWII. I researched the time period of the novel to gain a better understanding of the action throughout it. We are informed of the actions of characters such as Mussolini and Hitler. Smith skillfully retells this portion of history to fit into his characters’ lives.
Smith’s protagonist Cenzo is well-written and an interesting character to follow. He is a likeable character with wit and carries himself distinctly from others. Cenzo is a fisherman and Smith spends a portion of the novel describing the everyday life and beauty found in being a fisherman. He paints a vivid image of the lagoon and provides insight into Cenzo’s character through his passion of fishing. Cenzo is a humble yet haunted character who consciously evaluates the situations he encounters. His interactions between other characters in the novel reveal how multifaceted he is.
The mystery throughout the novel is engaging. I enjoyed the little revelations present in the novel. They are timed appropriately and add onto the development of Cenzo’s character as well as the plot. However, what fell short was the love story. It was definitely present but seemed rushed and the development was minimal. Giulia’s character is not as appealing and I did not find her as engaging as Cenzo.
The slow pacing of the novel was one of its downfalls. The action is underwhelming and I felt as if Smith lost focus of his story’s objective. He places Cenzo in a slew of relationships and circumstances which I felt at times did not pertain to the plot's development. I felt that there was a stall in Cenzo’s mission and the novel did not pick up or have much direction until the end.
Overall, it was an enjoyable read and I would recommend it to anyone interested in branching into another genre.
Review by Cindy M.
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