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May 7, 2021

The Venice Sketchbook by Rhys Bowen ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

Love and secrets collide in Venice during WWII in an enthralling novel of brief encounters and lasting romance

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The Venice Sketchbook cover
April 2021; Lake Union; 978-1542027120
audio, ebook, print (412 pages); women's fiction
The Venice Sketchbook
is a dual timeline historical fiction novel with a timeline in 2001 and the historical timeline from 1928 - 1945.  The two women are part of the same family but there are secrets that have never been revealed and mysteries to solve.

Present Day - Caroline's husband has just left her and their son goes to NYC to stay with him and his new girlfriend for the summer.  When 9/11 happens, the child is afraid to fly and stays with his father longer.  Caroline is very worried that his father may not return him to her and that she'll have to get a lawyer involved - an expense she can't really afford.  As her great-aunt is dying,  she leaves Caroline her a sketchbook, three keys, and a final whisper…Venice.  Caroline decides to scatter her aunt's ashes in Venice and finds out that her aunt has also left her an apartment.  She is determined to find out more about her aunt and the time that she spent in Venice.  The real question is why she never mentioned her time in Venice to her family.

Juliet made her first trip to Venice when she was 18.  She met and fell in love with Leonardo Da Rossi, an extremely wealthy and titled resident of the city.  When she takes a class of her students back to Venice in 1938, she knows that she will probably never see Leo again, but of course, she does and their feelings for each other are just as strong even though he is engaged to a wealthy woman in an arranged marriage.  Juliet gets a chance to study art in Venice for a year and ends up spending even more time with Leo despite the fact that he is already married.  As the war moves closer, life changes for the worst.  Leo disappears and Juliet starts keeping up with ship movements for the English government.  Will she see Leo again or is their romance destined to die in the tumultuous war?

I thought that Juliet's story was a good romance story set before and during the war.  The descriptions of Venice were wonderful and even though some of Juliet's story was terrible, it was well written and very interesting.  Caroline is another matter -- I didn't really like Caroline or her story.  She rushed off to Venice and didn't seem concerned about getting her son back from New York.  She talked about her son a lot but didn't make any effort to DO anything about getting him back home.  I think that this novel could have been even better if Caroline's story had been more in-depth so that the readers could connect with her on more than just the basic level.  That said, this was still an interesting book and Juliet's part of the story was very colorful and intriguing.

One important thing to add is that the author does fantastic descriptions of Venice.  I have been lucky to visit Venice several times and her descriptions brought back lots of great memories of that beautiful city.  So whether you want the memories of being in Venice or to take a mental vacation there, this is the book to read.

Buy The Venice Sketchbook at Amazon

Connect with Rhys Bowen:

Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina with her husband of over 50 years.  She grew up in Michigan but now calls North Carolina home. Since her travel plans had to be canceled for this year, she is starting to make plans for travel in 2021. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and historical fiction. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter.

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  1. I've never been to Venice so I appreciate the descriptions are so great, I love that kind of detail. Thank you for being on this tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours