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Florence or Venice

Historical Fiction

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Sep 10, 2007, 12:55pm Top

Next year I am planning a trip to Italy -- I've read alot of historical fiction about Ancient Rome -- but how about any novels that would give me some context for the things I will see in Florence or Venice? Any suggestions out there?

Sep 10, 2007, 1:05pm Top

You will find great suggestions for both cities here: http://www.fictionalcities.co.uk/

Sep 10, 2007, 1:12pm Top

If you're going to Venice I wouldn't bother about the books, you'll need to save the money in order to eat and drink there - St. Mark's Square must be the most expensive place in Europe!

Sep 10, 2007, 4:51pm Top

Have you read any of Sarah Dunant's books?

Sep 10, 2007, 8:00pm Top

#2 -- thanks for that website. very exhaustive list -- they are not really all historical fiction but I bet I can find some good ones.

#4 -- I have not. But just by looking around on LT and the above mentioned website today, it sounds like she will be perfect. Favorites?

Sep 10, 2007, 8:16pm Top

> 3

St. Mark's Square must be the most expensive place in Europe!

True, but there are other places to eat in Venice than in the Piazza San Marco.

Sep 10, 2007, 8:20pm Top

Well, The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone, of course ... it's an absolute MUST before visiting Florence. I read another non-fiction book about Venice that is quite recent ... can't remember the name, but I'm sure others will. By the same author who wrote Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil; was quite good because of how current it is. There are several short histories that revolve around the burning of the Fenici opera house.

Sep 10, 2007, 9:30pm Top

> 7
You mean City of Falling Angels. Did you really like it? I got truly annoyed by Berendt's sucking up to the rich and social. It seemed, too, that he was using the book to pursue a personal vendetta.

I would suggest, as far as historical fiction is concerned, Erica Jong's Serenissima and Faye Kellerman's The Quality of Mercy (on Shakespeare and The Merchant of Venice. Not quite contemporary, but set in a more recent era, is Henry James' Wings of the Dove.

For fiction set in present-day Venice, try Donna Leon's Commissario Brunetti mystery series.

I've got lots of good non-fiction to suggest, if you ever decide you want to go that route, but won't clutter up this thread any more than I already have!

9medea_09 First Message
Sep 11, 2007, 6:23am Top

jhowell - "The Birth of Venus" by Sarah Dunant. One of my favourites. Really captures the ideas of the Rennaissance and Venician art.

Sep 11, 2007, 8:02am Top

Try Leonardo's Swans by Karen Essex and, of course, A Room with a View by E.M. Forster. Haven't read the latter in years, but I believe it is set in Florence, not Rome.

Oct 15, 2007, 4:27am Top

Heheh... I actually read The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant when I was touring through Italy last year. It wasn't my favorite book, as it turns out, but it is still fun to read a related novel while traveling, I think!

Oct 15, 2007, 6:37am Top

The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone is an absolute must. Please do try an read that before you leave!

Oct 15, 2007, 6:43am Top

I see it's already been mentioned but I second A Room with a View which is set in and around Florence.

Edited: Dec 30, 2007, 7:10am Top

Miss Garnet's Angel by Salley Vickers Is set in Venice and is an endearing moodful tale about a woman who goes on holliday in Venice and goes through a kind of emotional-transformation resolving issues that have haunted her. I did not know what to expect when I started it, but I was pleasantly surprised. Beautifully written and also very informative about Venician landmarks. A tender little flower.....(I can't believe I just said that last remark =)

Dec 28, 2007, 5:55pm Top

Barry Unsworth's The Stone Virgin is good, and there are some excellent Venetian scenes in Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell and Russo's Bridge of Sighs. Also, if you can find a copy, Daphne du Maurier's Don't Look Now is very creepy.

16AnCrosairelibrary First Message
Jan 11, 2008, 9:37am Top

I, Mona Lisa (set in Florence), In the Company of the Courtesean (set in Rome/Venice) The Borgia Bride (set in Naples/Rome) & of course the Agony & the Esctasy all these books I HIGHLY recommend, all are set during the Renaissance though you will find that I, Mona Lisa is the most fictional of all of them as it tkes the most license with the historical accounts of the lives of the Medici for the author in the telling of her story ignores a documented historical fact that the Medici brother that was assinated was deemed the father of a bastard child who was later legitimized by Pope Leo (his Medici cousin) in order that he could follow him as Pope, which he did. Otherwise good books all, with very good historical references.

Jan 11, 2008, 5:48pm Top

Thanks everyone -- my trip is early March so I have started reading. I read In the Company of the Courtesan - meh. And I am now reading The Agony and the Ecstasy. Also new purchases --I am planning on giving Dunant another chance with The Birth of Venus; The Wings of a Dove; and The City of Falling Angels

Jan 13, 2008, 1:50pm Top

Sixteen Pleasures by Robert Hellenga is set in Florence.

Mar 27, 2008, 2:06am Top

The Sixteen Pleasures is a great choice.

For some non-fiction how about Brunelleschi's Dome by Ross King about the construction of il Duomo in Florence and Basilica: The Splendor and Scandal: Building St Peter's by R.A. Scotti. I read both of those before seeing the places described when I visited Italy last summer.

But, you're probably back from your trip already.

Apr 18, 2008, 3:20pm Top

I was starting to worry that it had gone so long without being mentioned, but I agree with #10 and 13. I think A Room With A View every time someone says Florence!

Apr 18, 2008, 3:21pm Top

The Venetian Mask was a March ER book, but a reprint, so you can maybe find it used. The book was less than fantastic, but I get the feeling that the author did her research about late 18th-century Venice.

May 14, 2008, 9:13pm Top

Rafael Sabatini wrote several novels that took place in Italy. I enjoyed his Venetian Masque: a romance, which takes place around the time that Napoleon was coming to power.

The Italian Twins takes place partly in Venice. It's one of Lucy Fitch Perkins's Twins books for children. She did her own illustrations, and I particularly enjoyed them in The Italian Twins.

Aug 1, 2008, 12:27am Top

A wonderful book about Florence during the early Renaissance, the time of Lorenzo de' Medici, is Linda Proud's A Tabernacle for the Sun. There's a review on my Historical Novels website at www.HistoricalNovels.info. Unfortunately, it's hard to get hold of in the U.S. About the only way is to order from the small press in England that publishes it, Godstow Press. Bug your libraries to order it!

Nov 14, 2008, 3:46pm Top

I loved The Secret Book of Grazia dei Rossi by Jacqueline Park. Takes place in Florence or Venice or both around the 15th century. A great read.

Edited: Nov 14, 2008, 4:14pm Top

The Book of Unholy Mischief by Elle Newmark is set in Vience during the Renaissance. I am reading an ARC of this now. I think it is due for release in December/January.

Nov 15, 2008, 3:01pm Top

#25: Oh, don't rub it into my face that you're reading it! I'm probably more excited than I should be about the book's coming out.

Nov 15, 2008, 5:07pm Top

Kasthu - Haha! Don't worry, I've been dying to read some of the books that you have been recieving lately! Didn't you just get The King's Daughter recently? Consider us even then! :)

Nov 15, 2008, 5:29pm Top

True, very true! I haven't received The King's Daughter, but a lot of really good things have appeared in my mailbox recently.

Nov 15, 2008, 5:49pm Top

I know it's not historical fiction, but one of Anne Rice's vampire novels is partially set in Venice. I think it was Blood and Gold, but my memory may be off by a book or two :)

Anyway, I was reading that particular book during a visit to Venice, and her writing (to me anyway) reflects very well on that city. I could actually find landmarks that she had mentioned in her writing. I walked around, all alone, late one night in Venice with the book in hand, matching her writing with the things she was describing. It was a very surreal experience...I was expecting vampires to leap out at me around every turn.

Edited: Nov 15, 2008, 7:20pm Top

I also just finished reading a very short story called The Man in the Painting, by Susan Hill. It's essentially a ghost story revolving around a painting of a Venetian Carnevale scene.

Nov 15, 2008, 7:23pm Top

And, well, they're not fiction, but there's also A Venetian Affair and Lucia: A Venetian Life in the Age of Napoleon, by Andrea Di Robilant.

Nov 15, 2008, 7:26pm Top

If you're into mysteries, there's also the Commissario Brunetti series, set in Venice, by Donna Leon.

Group: Historical Fiction

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