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The Girl from Venice by Martin Cruz Smith

The Girl from Venice (2016)

by Martin Cruz Smith

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2722559,346 (3.29)10



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Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
I asked for this book at Christmas because I read a review that described as a little like Casablanca. I took this to mean second world war setting, epic romance, and a sweeping broad plot. Regretfully it contained only one of those three things and my enjoyment suffered because of that unfulfilled expectation.

What I did like was the setting and the actual premise of the novel. Despite the title the majority of the story is set throughout the Venice Lagoon and in Pellestrina specifically or Salo, near Lake Garda and both locations are used to great effect. The former provides a small enough community for Smith to highlight the challenges and waiting game that faced ordinary Italians during the dying days, not only of the second world war, but also the Italian Socialist Republic - a topic I found fascinating and would like to read further on. In Salo we are taken to the heart of that Republic and I felt the town was used well as a backdrop of the political machinations as the regime came to an end.
The initial premise of the book is I think a strong one but becomes quickly distilled by the introduction of a large array of supplementary characters and plotlines without ever really fleshing out the two main protagonists. If this had been a deeper character driven novel focusing on Guilia and Cenzo and how they stay safe in a dangerous and rapidly changing world I think I could have enjoyed it. If it has been a mystery / thriller with a clear focus on finding out who had betrayed Guilia’s family I think I would have read happily. I could have even have got on board with a family epic looking at Cenzo’s complex family history but what we end up with is something of a confused mish mash of all elements that left me unsatisfied.

A final word – Guilia is introduced as a naïve, necessarily sheltered girl of 18. I found the romantic element of the story with a much older character who knew about her past somewhat distasteful. ( )
  itchyfeetreader | Apr 24, 2018 |
3.5 stars!

Everyone knows the basic gist of World War II. There are countless heart-wrenching stories about the survivors and the soldiers who fought in this war. However, this story is unique in that it focuses on the Italians who were drawn into this war because of Mussolini. While I knew about Mussolini and his friendship with Hitler, I never knew the full involvement of the Italian people in this war and the tensions that arose in Italy. Knowing that this book dealt with this topic made me really interested in reading it.

While most in Venice know that the war is coming to a close, people know that it is still not safe to voice their opinions and go against the Third Reich. Germany is still strong and many cities in Italy are occupied. One night, a fisherman named Cenzo comes across the body of a young woman in the lagoon near La Serenissima. He puts her on board his ship, only to discover that the body he presumed was dead is very much alive - and in trouble. Born to a wealthy Jewish family, Giulia is being hunted by the SS. For reasons beyound his understanding, Cenzo decides to help her reach safety instead of handing her over to the Nazis. This decision will lead them into a world full of danger, as they make their way through a world of secrets and treachery.

This story is more of a romantic historical thriller than a historical fiction novel. Yes, it shed light on the political tension in Italy and the dangerous circumstances that citizens were in. The author mentioned many different interactions between Cenzo and those around him, that allowed the reader to gain insight into the different viewpoints people had about this war and Mussolini. I found these sections to be entertaining and interesting. I liked Cenzo's character: he came off as a simple man but turned out to be quite complex. The romance that takes place in the novel was set up quite nicely. In the beginning, the novel made me curious and I couldn't stop myself from continuing on. In the middle, however, there are parts that got quite boring. At one point, I even forgot the point of the story. I will say, though, the author did a good job of recovering from this by making the ending exciting and funny all at the same time. This isn't a novel that I could really take seriously, and I think that was the author's intent. This isn't a sad story about the destructive effect war can have. Neither is it a novel that is hilarious and ridiculous in its portrayal of war. It lies somewhere in between, ensuring that readers can see the serious side of WWII while also showing a dark humor that somehow makes the story lighter. Overall, I quite enjoyed this book and the way in which the story was told. If you are looking for an interesting historical thriller with romance elements, then give this novel a shot. But if you are looking for something that has a more serious take on Italy's involvement in WWII, then this may not be the book for you.

For more reviews, visit: www.veereading.wordpress.com ( )
  veeshee | Jan 29, 2018 |
An overabundance of WWII stories covers the shelves, still many novels pass muster and entertain the reader. The Girl from Venice twists the story of a Jewish girl adrift in Italy during the last days of WWII. While fishing, Cenzo discovers Giulia. Cenzo must now hide Giulia and find someone to take her to safety as the Germans are herding Jews and killing them. Martin Cruz Smith captures the beauty of the sea, the fish, and the art of fishing in this story of love. Many authors concentrate on the hardships of the war and the terrible events that happen, but Smith glides over all the tragedies. Of course, the jealousy among brothers permeates the story, but in the end, Cenzo follows his heart and conscience. ( )
  delphimo | Nov 9, 2017 |
Would have to agree with the assessment that this was a disappointment. Seems to miss the grit and punch of the Arkady Renko series. There is a good basis here, but really needed more plot development. ( )
  rhbouchard | Sep 17, 2017 |
A good Cruz Smith. Interesting and well developed characters, unusual premise and page-turning prose. A strong return to form after the last two Renkos. Thoroughly enjoyed it. ( )
  malcrf | Jul 6, 2017 |
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Without a moon, small islands disappeared and Venice sank into the dark.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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"The highly anticipated new standalone novel from Martin Cruz Smith, whom The Washington Post has declared "that uncommon phenomenon: a popular and well-regarded crime novelist who is also a writer of real distinction," The Girl from Venice is a suspenseful World War II love story set against the beauty, mystery, and danger of occupied Venice. 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 Wehrmacht 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. The Girl from Venice is a thriller, a mystery, and a retelling of Italian history that will take your breath away. Most of all it is a love story"--… (more)

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