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The Venice Sketchbook: A Novel Hardcover – April 13, 2021
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“Rhys Bowen crafts a propulsive, unexpected plot with characters who come vibrantly alive on the page.” ―Mark Sullivan, author of Beneath a Scarlet Sky
Love and secrets collide in Venice during WWII in an enthralling novel of brief encounters and lasting romance by the New York Times bestselling author of The Tuscan Child and Above the Bay of Angels.
Caroline Grant is struggling to accept the end of her marriage when she receives an unexpected bequest. Her beloved great-aunt Lettie leaves her a sketchbook, three keys, and a final whisper…Venice. Caroline’s quest: to scatter Juliet “Lettie” Browning’s ashes in the city she loved and to unlock the mysteries stored away for more than sixty years.
It’s 1938 when art teacher Juliet Browning arrives in romantic Venice. For her students, it’s a wealth of history, art, and beauty. For Juliet, it’s poignant memories and a chance to reconnect with Leonardo Da Rossi, the man she loves whose future is already determined by his noble family. However star-crossed, nothing can come between them. Until the threat of war closes in on Venice and they’re forced to fight, survive, and protect a secret that will bind them forever.
Key by key, Lettie’s life of impossible love, loss, and courage unfolds. It’s one that Caroline can now make right again as her own journey of self-discovery begins.
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“Bowen’s vivid storytelling style holds readers enrapt…Bowen has written a tender, poignant story balancing dark and light.” ―Historical Novel Society
“The Venice Sketchbook is that rare book, both epic and personal, and utterly compelling. Two women, decades apart, escape to Venice, each forced to grapple with the influence of world events on her own life. This is a tale brimming with secrets, romance, and possibilities, cast against the colorful setting of irresistible Venice. I was utterly captured.” ―Barbara O’Neal, bestselling author of When We Believed in Mermaids and The Lost Girls of Devon
About the Author
Rhys Bowen is the New York Times bestselling author of more than forty novels, including Above the Bay of Angels, The Victory Garden, The Tuscan Child, and the World War II–based In Farleigh Field, the winner of the Macavity and Left Coast Crime Awards for Best Historical Mystery Novel and the Agatha Award for Best Historical Mystery. Bowen’s work has won twenty honors to date, including multiple Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Awards. Her books have been translated into many languages, and she has fans around the world. A transplanted Brit, Bowen divides her time between California and Arizona. To learn more about the author, visit www.rhysbowen.com.
- Publisher : Lake Union Publishing; 1st edition (April 13, 2021)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 412 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1542027128
- ISBN-13 : 978-1542027120
- Item Weight : 1.2 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 1 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #33,807 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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Rhys Bowen is one of my favorite authors and usually a 5 star read. “The Venice Sketchbook” is a very good cozy, historical mystery but I did have a few issues. There are 2 heroines - Lettie, who’s living in the WW2 time period and Caroline who’s living at the turn of the 21st century. These two women are related, (Lettie is Caroline’s aunt), and both are about the same age with some major life issues in common, unbeknownst to Caroline. Others are sure to regurgitate the storyline so I won’t but know that for the bulk of the book, the two women are the same age, with Caroline seeking to fill in the blanks surrounding the younger years of her beloved aunt’s younger life.
Much of the action takes place in Venice, no surprise there, most during the time of the Great War and some in early 2001+ Bowen’s writing is glorious and atmospheric. I spent 5 days there almost 35 years ago and was ready to sell my house and change jobs; the place is magical! Her descriptive prose will have your senses fully engaged and longing for the days of easy, free international travel.
Emotionally is where I had another issue. Usually Bowen’s characters are well developed and remind me of people I know or are someone I want to know and that’s the case with most of these, with one key exception. For much of this story, in both timelines, I found the character of Caroline to be weak and desperately in need of an infusion of maternal instinct. It was annoying, aggravating and really diminished my reading enjoyment and that made me angry! It segued into an unsatisfying ending and now I’m just sad that one of my favorite authors left me in this mood after waiting a long time anticipating this book.
It’s not a bad book but it’s not Rhys at her best. I’m glad to have read it and had a visit to Venice but IMO, Caroline needs a swift literary kick in the keyster📚
April History Fact or Fiction 2021 #8
This could have been such great book but it's not. If you're expecting a riveting can't put down type of book this is not for you. If you're expecting WWII Resistance story this is not for you. If you are expecting well developed characters and a tug at your heart strings love story this is not for you. If you want slow this is the book. If you want a sudden ending coming out of no where this is the book for you.
I could go on but I won't I just think IMHO that you should skip this book unless you're at the beach and are just looking for something to kill your time.
I do suggest Dragonfly by Leila Meacham or A Fire Sparkling by Julianne Maclean if you're looking for books that you can't put down.
Top reviews from other countries
I deducted one star because of the very abrupt ending. I was leftso disappointed with so many threads left unanswered itseemed to me that another chapter or two would have rounded off the story properly. Such a shame. I hate to be left wondering if the trip to America was successful and a visit back to England was left unexplained
It's a gripping story told at the time of the second world war. Which then flips to present day. The time lines are clear so there are no confusing moments where you're not sure when it is and all the characters have a part to play in the story, good or bad.
Well written and engrossing, this story is one you will fall in love with and will want to read more than once!!.