The end of the year is the perfect time to take a look at all the interesting books that I have been reading over the past year. My collection of Venice inspired books keeps on growing, so I can’t mention them all. In the list below, I share my top 10 books which I discovered this year. Some were published in 2018, while others have been around longer but have only made it now to my bookshelf. It includes novels, personal stories, books on architecture and music as well as a guide book. Click on the cover of a book for more details or if you want to order it.
For this collection of short stories, 34 Venice addicts describe their personal love stories with Venice and why they are hooked on the city. Reading this book will bring you all over La Serenissima. It will make you look at it through the eyes of authors, foodies, bloggers, guides and other Venetophiles. Kathleen Ann Gonzalez was the driver behind this project but all proceeds go to Venice related charity. Kathleen has also written ‘A beautiful woman in Venice’, a collection of biographies about remarkable Venetian women from all classes.
Philip Gwynne Jones lives in Venice and uses his beloved city as the scene of his books. He started his series on the Honorary Consul Nathan Sutherland in 2017. In his second mystery book, we follow Nathan to an exclusive event during the Biennale. When a world-famous critic is decapitated in one of the pavilions, this means the start of a new adventure. Philip’s style has a lot of humour, while his plots are very compelling. This combination makes it very hard to put the book aside. The third book in this series ‘The Venetian Masquerade’ will be published in April 2019.
Marie Ohanesian Nardin’s semi-autobiographical novel tells the story of Victoria, an American career woman who falls in love with Alvise, a handsome Venetian gondolier. When Victoria follows Alvise to Venice, this is the start of a series of challenges she will have to overcome. This romantic novel is an ode to Venice and to the trade of gondoliers. I really love the book and certainly recommend it to you. You can read more about it in my interview with Marie and her husband Roberto Nardin, a third generation gondolier in ‘An insider’s story from the world of gondoliers’.
I am always on the outlook for books of David Hewson, and not only those with a link to Venice, so I was happy to discover this one from 2006 in a bookshop earlier this year. In this fourth book of the Nic Costa series, the Roman detectives Nic Costa and Gianni Peroni and pathologist Teresa Lupo investigate a fire in a glass foundry. Two people died in what seems a tragic incident. However, as they dig more deeply into the glass-making community on Murano and the strange Arcangeli family, things don’t quite add up. They assume someone tries to cover up a murder crime.
In his 27th adventure, Commissario Guido Brunetti is tasked with uncovering the culprit who is leaking important information from inside the Venetian Questura. However, before he can begin his investigation, a friend of his wife Paola comes asking for his help. She fears that her son is using drugs. A few weeks later, her husband is found unconscious at the foot of a bridge. If you love the Donna Leon series and you would like to explore the locations from the books, I suggest you follow the walk from my post ‘Follow Brunetti on a suspenseful trip around Venice’.
In her debut novel, Julia Grigg translates her passion for art and Italian Renaissance in historical fiction. The adventure in which Francesco Bassano wants to unravel his father’s painting ‘Two Hunting Dogs’ is fascinating. The story takes you to Venice, Verona and Florence where Francesco meets Titian, Veronese and Vasari to trace the painting’s story. The book draws on her extensive research, so you are transported to Venice as it was at that time. Every scene lingers in your mind after reading it. If you love Venice, art, history or just adventures, you will love this book.
This beautifully-written memoir gives you an insight into the life of Polly Coles and her family while they adapt to life in Venice after their move from England. She discovers a city caught between modern and ancient life, where locals still go on an annual pilgrimage for the Festa della Salute, where schools are housed in historical palazzos and where your new washing machine can only be delivered on foot. If you ever dreamed of moving to Venice, then this book might make you feel compelled to retrace her steps.
I discovered this book in the museum shop of Palazzo Ducale. France Thierard has a similar style and look onto Venice as I use on The Venice Insider, so I was immediately intrigued. This guide book does not only give loads of interesting information about Venice. It is also beautifully illustrated with drawings of the city and of the 4 types of travellers: a dreamer, an adventuress, an erudite and an elegant traveller. This original concept allows you to discover Venice city depending on your travel mood of the day. The book is also available in Italian and French.
What inspires so many artists, writers, architects and ordinary people in Venice? Sophia Psarra examines how cities evolve and how they foster imagination and innovation. In her book, she explores Venice as a prototypical city that may hold unique answers to the ancient narrative of utopia. Venice was not the result of a preconceived ideal but the pragmatic outcome of social and economic networks of communication. If you are interested in other books on architecture, take a look at my post ‘The architecture of Venice captured in 8 books’.
Even though this book is only available in Dutch, I couldn’t resist adding it to my list. Venice is the city where modern opera was invented and where you can enjoy stunning performances in Teatro La Fenice. In ‘Venetian Songs’, Willem Bruls takes you through 4 centuries of opera history and the places where the composers such as Monteverdi, Vivaldi, Verdi, Wagner and Stravinksy lived. He teaches us what effect the magic of Venice had on its musical inhabitants and what the importance of the composers was for the lagoon city.
If you want to discover more novels set in Venice, follow the links to find out which books were published in 2017 or in 2016. If you have any suggestions for additional titles, feel free to add them in the comments.
PS: Several links in this post are affiliate links. This means that I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you when you order a book.
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