Trip Fiction: Ten books set in Venice
The calle, campi and canali of Venice are the arteries and joints of the city, the reflected light and gently lapping waters a unique draw for visitors over centuries. Writers have always found inspiration in the dark corners, the crumbling buildings, the shimmering waters and the echoing facades of the palazzi. As Truman Capote said: "Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go"; an overkill for the senses. We bring together some of the best reads (and there are many) that bring the city to glittering life:
The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt
This is a unique and insightful portrait of Venice, brought together in the aftermath of the fire that destroyed La Fenice in 1996. The author seeks out the idiosyncratic inhabitants who have always populated the Lagoon City and combines their stories into one very readable book.
The Golden Egg by Donna Leon
No list of Venice set books is complete without a listing for Donna Leon. This well plotted novel is the 22nd outing for Commissario Brunetti, an acclaimed series from the doyenne of Venetian crime mystery writing, Donna Leon. The middle-aged, disabled helper at the Brunetti laundry is found dead due to a suspected overdose. However as the Commissario investigates he finds that things are not as they seem.
Brunetti’s Venice by Tony Sepeda
If you are a huge Brunetti fan already, then Brunetti’s Venice by Tony Sepeda is a must – he guides you through the atmospheric city through the eyes of the inimitable detective, stopping to admire and explore locations mentioned in the books.
The Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato
The present and the past come together in this beautifully crafted novel. Nora moves to Venice and begins to unravel her past. Back to the year 1681, when glassblowing was intrinsic to Venetian commerce and culture, and mirrors were more valuable than gold. The city both past and present comes to life in the hands of the author, who clearly knows her Venice inside out.
One Summer in Venice by Nicky Pellegrino
An enjoyable book that utterly transports the reader to present day Venice. Addolorata runs the family restaurant Little Italy in London. But after a crushing review, she heads for Venice. This is her story of the day-to-day city, as she shops for food, makes friends, ambles down the narrow streets and ponders her life back in England.
Miss Garnet’s Angel by Salley Vickers
Think “Venice” and this is another book that immediately springs to mind. Julia Garnet decides to spend the six winter months in Venice to recuperate from the loss of her flatmate of 30 years. Miss Garnet is a dignified heroine who explores the art of the city as she discovers a different and richer way of living. An original and memorable read.
In the Company of the Courtesan by Sarah Dunant
The year is 1527. Fiammetta Bianchini and Bucino Teodoldi – a fabulous courtesan and her dwarf companion – escape from Rome and head for the dazzling city of Venice. They have swallowed all their jewels, which they will need to keep safe until they find their footing in the multicultural, rich and dazzling city.
The Floating Book by Michelle Lovric
15th century Venice. A love triangle develops amongst the early days of books and the printing press. Sosia Simeon is making her mark on the city, she is a lover of books. Wendelin von Speyer from Germany is setting up his first printing press there and is searching for a book that will make him rich. Add a scribe, religious characters and dark magic for a true Venetian mystery.
Dead Lagoon by Michael Dibdin
Aurelio Zen returns to his native Venice, to investigate the disappearance of a rich American who has been living in the city. He is not officially working the case, he is just doing so as a favour, but soon he uncovers details he has no choice but to pursue. An excellent way to explore the city, as Zen navigates the city of his birth you see the dark and the light side of Venice, its beauty and its eeriness.
A Thousand Days in Venice by Marlena de Blasi
A love story from Marelana de Blasi, who loves all things Italian and is now based in Umbria. She writes about life, love and her great interest is food – mouthwatering recipes are included. This is one more book on the go-to list for experiencing Venice through the eyes of an author.
Tina Hartas is co-founder of www.tripFiction.com the resource for both actual and armchair travellers to “see a location through an author’s eyes”.