The Girl from Venice

girlfromveniceThe setting for Martin Cruz Smith’s new novel The Girl from Venice is the inspiring beauty and uniqueness of Venice which fortuitously was saved from the bombing raids of World War II.  It remains intact in all its glory – maybe until nature decides otherwise – and provides the background scenery for this wartime love story. German SS, Italian partisans and fascists, Mussolini, the persecution of Jews, all flesh out this fascinating tale, and that is just the political side of the story. Cenzo is a fisherman whose livelihood comes from the marshes and lagoon around Venice. We are treated to utterly fascinating descriptions of the various fishing techniques employed to catch the large variety of fish found in the Venice lagoon and marshes – who would have believed so much sea life could abound in this seemingly inhospitable waterway. His life is utterly disrupted when he ‘fishes’ the seemingly lifeless body of a young woman out of the lagoon one night. The fact that she is a fleeing Jew trying to escape the German SS is the basis for the story. Cenzo comes from the archetypical Italian family – tyrannical widowed mother, famous hated ratbag of a brother, widowed sister-in-law who custom dictates he is expected to marry, and all the drama that this mix provides as a subtext to the main plot. This is an easy and satisfying read with wonderful descriptive writing and interesting historical insights into this period in Italy at the end of World War II.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

Book review by Kaye – Librarian at Broadbeach Branch Library