Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Romance

The Girl From Venice by Martin Cruz Smith

Everyone knows the basic gist of World War II. There are countless heart-wrenching stories about the survivors and the soldiers who fought in this war. However, this story is unique in that it focuses on the Italians who were drawn into this war because of Mussolini. While I knew about Mussolini and his friendship with Hitler, I never knew the full involvement of the Italian people in this war and the tensions that arose in Italy. Knowing that this book dealt with this topic made me really interested in reading it.

While most in Venice know that the war is coming to a close, people know that it is still not safe to voice their opinions and go against the Third Reich. Germany is still strong and many cities in Italy are occupied. One night, a fisherman named Cenzo comes across the body of a young woman in the lagoon near La Serenissima. He puts her on board his ship, only to discover that the body he presumed was dead is very much alive – and in trouble. Born to a wealthy Jewish family, Giulia is being hunted by the SS. For reasons beyound his understanding, Cenzo decides to help her reach safety instead of handing her over to the Nazis. This decision will lead them into a world full of danger, as they make their way through a world of secrets and treachery.

This story is more of a romantic historical thriller than a historical fiction novel. Yes, it shed light on the political tension in Italy and the dangerous circumstances that citizens were in. The author mentioned many different interactions between Cenzo and those around him, that allowed the reader to gain insight into the different viewpoints people had about this war and Mussolini. I found these sections to be entertaining and interesting. I liked Cenzo’s character: he came off as a simple man but turned out to be quite complex. The romance that takes place in the novel was set up quite nicely. In the beginning, the novel made me curious and I couldn’t stop myself from continuing on. In the middle, however, there are parts that got quite boring. At one point, I even forgot the point of the story. I will say, though, the author did a good job of recovering from this by making the ending exciting and funny all at the same time. This isn’t a novel that I could really take seriously, and I think that was the author’s intent. This isn’t a sad story about the destructive effect war can have. Neither is it a novel that is hilarious and ridiculous in its portrayal of war. It lies somewhere in between, ensuring that readers can see the serious side of WWII while also showing a dark humor that somehow makes the story lighter. Overall, I quite enjoyed this book and the way in which the story was told. If you are looking for an interesting historical thriller with romance elements, then give this novel a shot. But if you are looking for something that has a more serious take on Italy’s involvement in WWII, then this may not be the book for you.


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