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The Girl from Venice by Martin Cruz Smith

We have gathered all the fantastic reviews our Book Club Members have sent us this month.

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Elaine Davis

The novel is set in Italy in the last days of World War Two. Cenzo, a fisherman in the Venice lagoon, saves a Jewish girl who is being pursued by the Nazis. The story, which later moves to the town of Salo on Lake Garda before returning to the lagoon, centres on their developing relationship and his efforts to help her, against a background of confused political factions and fluid loyalties. Among those seeking to manipulate Cenzo is his brother Giorgio, a film star whom Cenzo hates, for good reason. There are scenes of bloodshed and real menace but also moments of near farce, which makes a rather odd juxtaposition. Some of the characters were better drawn than others, Cenzo being far more believable than Giorgio. I enjoyed the book and the suspense. As a bonus, the details of life in 1940s Italy were really interesting.

Barbara Grayson

I received this book just as I was about to leave on holiday which has made it a little difficult to send a review in good time since there was no WiFi available while away.

Once I had started to read this book I did not want to put it down. The story developed slowly and draws you in to itself. I enjoyed the characters of Cenzo and Guilia who intrigued me and I liked the way their relationship changed as the story progressed. I felt that I knew the places in the book where the story had its settings because the descriptive narrative was so good and produced such a good atmosphere making me desire to visit the Venice Lagoon. I felt that for me the story slowed down a little in the middle but picked up pace towards the end.

This was an enjoyable read and I shall certainly want to read more of this author.

Thank you for my introduction to Martin Cruz Smith.

Peter Gabbitas

I have read a lot of books about the last war but mainly from the allies or German perspective. I found this book a totally different genre. As we have spent holidays in both Venice & Lake Garda I didn't know a lot about their involvement in the war. It was good to read how it affected ordinary people especially the Jews in Italy.

I did find parts of the story a bit farfetched but on the whole it was a good read.

It is not the sort of book that I would have bought or downloaded but I will pass it to my wife who I am sure will enjoy it.

Gil Clark

Thank you so much for the book. It must be over two years since I read a book rather than my Kindle.

I enjoyed "the Girl from Venice" very much. I thought the character, Cenzo, was well drawn and plausible. It was interesting to read about the skills of a fisherman near Venice and the influence of the matriarch of the family. I could understand the awe with which his brother, Georgio was held in such a provincial place. I enjoyed the love developing between Giulia and Cenzo as I'm a sucker for a happy ending but I didn't find it very convincing as their backgrounds were so different. I was glad that Cenzo didn't marry his brother's widow. Giulia didn't seem very grief stricken following the death of her family and her hair-raising escape although that could explain her craving the quiet security that Cenzo offered. She wanted revenge on da Costa but she didn't come across as very angry - but as they say, revenge is a dish best served cold!

The description of the various factions vying for power and settling old scores at the end of the war was a great background to the story. It must have been very frightening whatever side you were on. It also made it possible to add a bit of colour with Maria Paz, Vera and the dreadful Otto, people created by circumstances.

I will recommend this book to my own book club when it is next my turn to choose.