‘The Girl from Venice’ is a thriller, a mystery, and a retelling of Italian history that will take your breath away. Most of all, it is a suspenseful World War II love story set against the beauty, mystery, and danger of occupied Venice.
It is 1945 in Venice, Italy and the war is closing down but the fishermen of the lagoon are not yet aware of it. Cenzo hopes his little fishing boat will not draw the attention of the German gunboat and hides as best he can and all looks well until he discovers the body of a dead girl, floating in the in amongst the weeds. He takes her on board and then sure enough, the gunboat tracks him down. He has no idea how he is going to explain to them the girl’s corpse in his boat, knowing that the Germans will use it as an excuse to kill him anyway. They board him and trash it but to Cenzo’s bewilderment, the girl’s body has disappeared.
They let him go and he finds her again a short time later, a young Jewish girl that escaped capture in the asylum that she, her parents, and a group of other souls were hiding in. She is the only survivor and the only one who can identify the traitor within her group. Her name is Giulia and he brings her back to his place and upon discovering his supper, she promptly demolishes it and this is where a very good yarn takes off. It is good as an opera, better in fact, and we have love, betrayal, lust for power, lust for other things as well, adultery, ladies with hearts of gold and bodies willing to help the war effort.
Smith spins a great story that takes you behind the lines of the Italian men and women who struggle to survive, in spite of Mussolini dragging them into the war on the wrong side. The interplay of dialogue between the characters is brilliant, and I was very impressed with the way the story unfolded. The comedic instances were great for relieving the tension as the book nears its finale. Smith has a great way with words and he brings the characters and scenarios to life in a wonderful, magical way. It is a fantastic stocking stuffer for your best reading buddy. Very highly recommended.
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