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Cover image for The girl from Venice
Format:
Title:
The girl from Venice
ISBN:
9781439140239

9781439140246

9781849838146

9781683242291
Edition:
First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition.
Publication:
New York : Simon and Schuster, 2016.
Physical Description:
308 pages : map ; 24 cm
Summary:
"The highly anticipated new standalone novel from Martin Cruz Smith, whom The Washington Post has declared "that uncommon phenomenon: a popular and well-regarded crime novelist who is also a writer of real distinction," The Girl from Venice is a suspenseful World War II love story set against the beauty, mystery, and danger of occupied Venice. Venice, 1945. The war may be waning, but the city known as La Serenissima is still occupied and the people of Italy fear the power of the Third Reich. One night, under a canopy of stars, a fisherman named Cenzo comes across a young woman's body floating in the lagoon and soon discovers that she is still alive and in trouble. Born to a wealthy Jewish family, Giulia is on the run from the Wehrmacht SS. Cenzo chooses to protect Giulia rather than hand her over to the Nazis. This act of kindness leads them into the world of Partisans, random executions, the arts of forgery and high explosives, Mussolini's broken promises, the black market and gold, and, everywhere, the enigmatic maze of the Venice Lagoon. 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 love story"-- Provided by publisher.
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SMITH Martin
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FIC SMITH 2016
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SMITH, M.
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FICTION SMITH
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Smith, M.
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Smith, M.
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Summary

Summary

The highly anticipated new standalone novel from Martin Cruz Smith, whom The Washington Post has declared "that uncommon phenomenon: a popular and well-regarded crime novelist who is also a writer of real distinction," The Girl from Venice is a suspenseful World War II love story set against the beauty, mystery, and danger of occupied Venice.

Venice, 1945. The war may be waning, but the city known as La Serenissima is still occupied and the people of Italy fear the power of the Third Reich. One night, under a canopy of stars, a fisherman named Cenzo comes across a young woman's body floating in the lagoon and soon discovers that she is still alive and in trouble.

Born to a wealthy Jewish family, Giulia is on the run from the Wehrmacht SS. Cenzo chooses to protect Giulia rather than hand her over to the Nazis. This act of kindness leads them into the world of Partisans, random executions, the arts of forgery and high explosives, Mussolini's broken promises, the black market and gold, and, everywhere, the enigmatic maze of the Venice Lagoon.

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 love story.


Author Notes

Martin Cruz Smith is a writer of suspense novels. He was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, on November 3, 1942 but grew up in New Mexico and the Philadelphia area. Smith earned a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Smith worked for local television stations, newspapers, and the Associated Press. His early work was published under the names Simon Quinn, Jake Logan, and Martin Smith. Smith is best known for a series of suspense/thrillers featuring Investigator Arkady Renko. The first of these books, Gorky Park, was published in 1981 and adapted as a film starring William Hurt and Lee Marvin two years later. An earlier film of his work, Nightwing, directed by Arthur Hiller, was released in 1979. Smith is a member of the Authors League of America and the Authors Guild.

In 2013 his title Tatiana made The New York Times Best Seller List. The Girl from Venice also became a bestseller.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 5

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this refreshing departure from Smith's popular international thrillers, the 15th novel from this two-time Hammett Award-winner (Gorky Park) is a clever, well-crafted, and exciting blend of WWII romance, suspense, and intrigue. Set in Nazi-occupied Venice, Italy, in 1945, just weeks before Germany's surrender to the Allies, Cenzo the fisherman finds a young woman floating in the lagoon. He rescues her and kills a German officer to protect her. Eighteen-year-old Giulia is the sole surviving daughter of a wealthy Jewish family, now sought by the Germans, Fascists, and partisans because she can identify the traitor who betrayed her family. Cenzo is a simple fisherman, a veteran of Mussolini's war in Ethiopia, and wants nothing to do with this war. He feels obligated to help Giulia escape her pursuers but must rely on people he cannot trust, especially his older brother, Giorgio, a handsome Italian movie star and Fascist collaborator, as well as a Nazi colonel with a curious interest in Giulia's family. As Cenzo and Giulia wind their way through a maze of deceit, danger, and betrayal, they fall in love amid the turmoil of German retreat, Fascist brutality, and partisan reprisal. Capture, escape, a hoard of stolen gold, a forger, and a Swiss movie producer add action and passion to the novel's unexpected plot twists, and its most satisfying conclusion. Agent: Andrew Nurnberg, Andrew Nurnberg Associates. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Kirkus Review

After his Russian Arkady Renko series (Tatiana, 2013, etc.), Smith spins a tale about an Italian fisherman and the Jewish girl he finds floating in the sea.In 1945, World War II is almost over, but the SS is still hunting Jews. Innocenzo Cenzo Vianello casts fishing nets into a Venice lagoon and finds a body in the water. He pulls the apparently dead young woman onto his boat, Fatima, and covers her with a sailcloth. Soon he finds her sitting up and eating his polenta. She is Giulia Silber, and the SS wants her. They have already killed the rest of her family. The SS rounded up all the Jews, a character says. All but a girl who swam away. For his part, Cenzos sole intent was to outlive the war, but he has Giulia dress up as a fellow fisherman and kills a German officer. Meanwhile, Cenzos older brother Giorgio leads a different type of life as a movie actor (Prince Charming) who proudly spreads propaganda for Il Duce, Benito Mussolini. Cenzo would like the pleasure of personally strangling his brother, whom he calls Mussolinis golden boy. Cenzo himself had been a pilot whod been dishonorably discharged for refusing to attack Abyssinians with mustard gas, and now hes content to just fish and paint. He's painted a picture of a fighter plane strafing the Fatima and killing his younger brother, Hugo. That piloting experience comes in handy as hes asked to fly gold bullion to Switzerland in a tiny Stork reconnaissance plane. How he meets that challenge both illuminates his humanity and entertains the reader. In fact, all the characters come alive.This is a thoughtful and engrossing novel with more than enough action to keep the pages turning. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

Smith gives his cynical-to-the-core Russian policeman Arkady Renko a rest and turns to a very different character in this appealing mix of WWII thriller and fable-like romance. Cenzo is a fisherman living on the deserted side of the Venice lagoon. It's spring 1945, and the Nazis are still occupying Venice; the Americans are on the march, though, and various Italian groups, from Fascists to partisans of various stripes, are either planning exit strategies or gearing up for postwar reprisals. Cenzo cares nothing about the war (which cost him both a brother and a wife) until he fishes a young Jewish woman out of the lagoon and rashly decides to protect her from the Germans. But the girl disappears, and Cenzo sails across the lagoon to find her. Smith does something quite remarkable here, smoothly blending a fascinating glimpse of Italy in war-ending chaos with a rich-girl-poor-boy romance that draws on fairy tales (think Beauty and the Beast, though Cenzo cleans up nicely) and classic rom-com (an edgier Roman Holiday). Even Renko devotees won't mind putting down their vodka for a sip of refreshing prosecco.--Ott, Bill Copyright 2016 Booklist


New York Review of Books Review

IS THERE ANY excuse for a thriller to be well written? A good sentence and a good thriller exist at cross purposes - the sentence making us pause to think or notice, the thriller dissolving our awareness of anything but its narrative, the genre that most wants to make us forget we're reading. You can find plenty of terrible lines in "The Firm," but try to track down a boring one. There aren't any. The field's current standard-bearer, Lee Child, writes clean, hard and fast. (I once heard at third hand that he aims his prose at a reader of 10 years old, which is one of those things that should be true, whether it is or not.) There's something genuinely admirable about his style: He's prominent on his covers, square-jawed and bomber-jacketed, but once the action starts he vanishes, an invisible and discreet servant to his story, indulging in none of the clever asides or descriptions of weather that are so gratifying to a writer's ego. His books are a little silly, and completely addictive. The newest, NIGHT SCHOOL (Delacorte, $28.99), is the 21st that Child has written about Jack Reacher, a nomadic loner without worldly possessions - he's constantly buying new T-shirts - or a settled home. He's a laureled veteran, fast, strong, smart and enormous, 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds , (Eagle-eyed observers will note that these are not Tom Cruise's dimensions.) Above all he's an industrial weight delivery system for dramatic irony, which is what it's called when the reader has information a character doesn't; the quintessential Reacher scene involves a gang of five or six heavies approaching him with a menacing air. We know they're in trouble way before they do. "Night School" is the third prequel Child has written with Reacher still in the Army. Fresh off a successful mission, he's called into a secret meeting by the office of the national security adviser. A tantalizing scrap of intelligence has come into their possession, a phrase that can be plausibly linked to a terrorist cell: "The American wants a hundred million dollars." Reacher goes to Hamburg to investigate, and for 100 pages or so the book careens forward, drawing the death of a local prostitute and a group of German nationalists into its engaging search. There, however, it stumbles. Child gives away too much, too soon, a rare unforced error for this series, and more significantly Reacher seems strangely out of place in a military investigation. His defining characteristic is his itinerant vigilante solitude, and here, teamed up with elite agents from the C.I.A. and the F.B.I., handling matters with complicated geopolitical implications, he really feels like the character we know only when he takes a few minutes of me-time to rough up those nationalists. Reacher is a fantasy, of course. When he's battling a corrupt private military firm, the terse, forceful prose with which Child describes him serves to confirm Reacher's toughness and credibility. But when he's battling a jihadist group, that same tone seems (as Theodor Adorno observed that such bids for authenticity often do) like little more than a shrewder variety of fakeness, a subtler posturing. "Night School" is dedicated to "the men and women around the world who do this stuff for real." If only they existed. Standing in almost diametric contrast to the Reacher model is THE LONG ROOM (Tin House, paper, $15.95), the third novel by the gifted English writer Francesca Kay. It's the story of a British spy in London in 1981 - everyone is watching the Jeremy Irons "Brideshead Revisited" - and its narrative is halting, occasionally far-fetched and only intermittently engrossing, but its language is brilliant, a poet's language, luminous and watchful. Stephen, the protagonist of "The Long Room," catches an unexpected view of himself in a mirror and sees "a bare, forked animal," a startling and perfect fragment of defamiliarization plucked from Shakespeare. Later there's a blizzard, and Kay records that the snowfall is "untouched but for the tracery of a bird's claw prints." As Stephen leaves the long room where he works for British intelligence one night, and which gives the book its title, we see him "lightly touching each of the eight deserted desks as he goes past," which is just what I would do too. He's an unhappy fellow, Stephen: He expected Oxford to open new doors for him, but instead found that it only showed him the locked ones more closely. At least his boss, Rollo Buckingham (a name that makes him sound, perhaps a little too blatantly, like Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright's best chum from sixth form), has invited him to work on a sensitive internal investigation; the only difficulty is that Stephen has fallen in love with Helen, one of its subjects. "The Long Room" is uncannily reminiscent of "Jill," by Philip Larkin, about a provincial boy who goes up to Oxford with high hopes, only to be overwhelmed by loneliness and longing, a sense that life is something that goes on elsewhere, in sparkling rooms he glimpses from the street. "Who told the long-limbed boys, the Greenwoods and the Bennet-Gilmours of this world, the Buckinghams, that asparagus is eaten with the fingers not a fork?" No nation has produced this kind of aching query with a hundredth of the frequency of England, whose great original sin is class, as America's is slavery. Stephen's ressentiment drives him to more and more desperate choices, less and less realistically, culminating in an absurd and anticlimactic trip across the country. But the grace of Kay's voice is hypnotizing, and there are moments when her empathy for Stephen makes them seem barely divisible. Spies and writers are both paid to notice, after all. If there's a golden mean between Child's crisp technique and Kay's melancholy, lovely one, the English novelist James Lasdun may have found it in his exceptionally entertaining new book, THE FALL GUY (Norton, $25.95). It's a cross of literary fiction, thriller and mystery; as David Shields has said, and as good writers realize quickly, "genre is a minimum-security prison." Maybe the title places it most accurately: Lasdun, after the pathogenic proliferation of Girls in crime fiction - gone ones, good ones, train ones, through glass ones - offers us two guys with enigmatic motives, in restrained competition over a woman to whom one of them is married. Which of them will be the fall guy? Their names are Charlie and Matthew, and they are cousins whose friendship dates to their London school days, though both now live in New York. Charlie is rich and married, Matthew poor and at loose ends, obsessively reading his dead father's copy of Pascal's "Pensées," trying to figure out where things went wrong, and so Charlie and his wife, Chloe, invite Matthew to stay for the summer in the guesthouse of their wooded mountainside retreat. From the start there's a febrile mood to this ad hoc household, languorous poolside mornings, friends coming over to drink a bit too much. Matthew has a secret feeling of closeness with Chloe, not even precisely sexual, which makes her sacred to him, "an idealized composite in whom daughter, sister, cousin, mother, mistress, friend and mystical other half were all miraculously commingled." When he discovers that she's being unfaithful, then, he's bereft. Does he confront her? Charlie? Both of them? There's something reptilian in Lasdun's gaze, a cold-blooded interest in furtiveness, in the lithe selfishness of the genteel. "The Fall Guy" reads like early Ian McEwan or late Patricia Highsmith, and while often novelists who write as finely as he does seem to feel above what Jonathan Franzen once called the "stoop work" of narrative, Lasdun is masterly in his story's construction. His clues never seem like clues until they bind tightly around one of the three leads. This is exactly what a literary thriller should be: intelligent, careful, swift, unsettling. Its author deserves to find more readers on these shores. Pascal, who acts as Greek chorus to "The Fall Guy," said that all of man's misfortune comes from one thing, which is not knowing how to sit quietly in a room , That might also be the motto of Cenzo, an Italian fisherman waiting out the last days of World War II in Martin Cruz Smith's novel THE GIRL FROM VENICE (Simon & Schuster, $27). "I've declared myself an official coward," Cenzo says. "I intend to outlive this war and the next." This seems like a sure sign that a lot of stuff is about to happen to him. It begins when he finds a girl floating in the water. Her name is Giulia, "imperious, with straight hair and a sharp chin," from a rich Venetian family and considerably less dead than Cenzo initially suspects. The Nazis are after her, and very reluctantly the fisherman finds himself conspiring in her concealment. He's been burned before: His dashing brother Giorgio, a famous actor with friends among the Fascists, stole Cenzo's wife, who was immediately killed, denying Cenzo even the right to hate her properly. Soon it becomes clear that to save Giulia, Cenzo may have to reconcile with his brother. "The Girl From Venice" is a classy, lightweight affair, agile in its handling of action, smooth in its writing, thoroughly professional. For a long time I couldn't decide whether it was a passable novel or a very, very bad one. I think, alas, that it's the latter. The problem is its bone-deep complacency. It's a book that has completely internalized the lessons of popular war fiction: Heroes are laconic and world-weary, women are redemptive, only nature is "real," a biplane is always close by to escape on. (There's an article to be written about the incalculable damage Hemingway has wrought on this genre.) Cenzo falls in love with Giulia, and before long she is "transformed into a fierce little sea nymph," words are "insufficient" to describe her. "You have no idea how beautiful you are," Cenzo says. There's more weight of thought in his feelings about fish than about his new lover, but otherwise they seem roughly equivalent: "Fish were mysterious, more a race than a species, and an invitation to another world." Of course women can be redemptive. But every gesture of midcentury Romanticism in "The Girl From Venice" is a received one, repackaged and presented as the most profound wisdom. These books come out fairly often - a panful of warm treacle called "Everyone Brave Is Forgiven," by Chris Cleave, is a recent example - and they make it seem as if popular novelists are just about done actually thinking through World War II, its terrible reality giving way to a comforting set of filmic clichés, sazeracs, desperate train journeys, narrow outwittings. It feels cheap. The Nazis were so cruel individually and in aggregate, so astonishingly malicious, that we owe them our best imaginations. A writer should have to earn them. Anything less is disrespectful to their victims. It says a lot about the present state of play in publishing that even Smith's book, about an Italian fisherman, has the word "girl" in the title, and at first THE VANISHING YEAR (Atria, paper, $16), by Kate Moretti, might appear to be another copycat. Its narrator is a pretty floral designer named Zoe, who's just been swept off her feet by a Wall Street tycoon. He doesn't know the dark secrets of her past, and she doesn't know the dark secrets of his. Send a check to Gillian Flynn. In fact, though, the antecedents of "The Vanishing Year" are far older and in a sense more innocent, less laceratingly modern, than Flynn's magnificent "Gone Girl." It's a tale of lost twins, amnesia, agoraphobia, adoption - most indebted, in other words, to melodramas like "Rebecca" and "Wuthering Heights" and "The Moonstone." (There's even a Mrs. Danvers clone.) The writing is lively and atrocious. Two instances of the word "harrumph" in a six-page span are at least one and probably two too many. "The picture slides from my mind, slippery as wet spaghetti," Zoe exclaims at one point, which is a simile with as much literary merit as wet spaghetti. But there can be a great deal of charm in this kind of looseness - "The Vanishing Year" is intimate, conversational company, and its plot is strong, its closing twists superb. In Zoe's past, we learn, she testified against a dangerous criminal, and before long her new world of fund-raisers and couture is punctured by an attempt on her life. Her husband, who should be her first refuge, grows only more controlling. Instead she turns to a journalist named Cash, who lives in an East Village studio and takes her to his mother's down-at-heels Queens neighborhood; as so often in tales like this one, status anxiety, the sense that rising in the world must inevitably invite punishment, lurks behind the histrionics. The most human and memorable scenes Moretti writes have little to do with these mysteries, however. They're the ones that recall Zoe's childhood adoration of her mother, a loving, fragile person, Sally Bowles in California. The depiction of their relationship seems to come from a different, more tender and less outlandish novel. It would be interesting if Moretti were to write it one day. From certain angles, LIVIA LONE (Thomas & Mercer, $24.95), by Barry Eisler, might seem just as cartoonish as "The Vanishing Year." It's about a Seattle cop named Livia, who knows jujitsu, zips around on a motorcycle and opens the book by murdering a rapist partially for her own sexual enjoyment. But Eisler has rooted her story in a scrupulously researched and harrowing account of child sex trafficking, and this gives Livia's unlikely later adventures credibility and resonance. The resulting hybrid makes for an absolutely first-rate thriller. "Livia Lone" is divided into chapters labeled "Then" and "Now." Those in the past are about Livia and her sister, Nason, whose parents sell them to a gang of Thai traffickers. The sexual assaults begin almost immediately; Livia volunteers herself, to protect her little sister. These sections are hard to read, but never gratuitous, and, like the whole book, feel emotionally true at each beat. "She knew she would die if she stopped eating. The thought was immediately appealing." She forces herself to carry on. Shipped to America, the sisters are separated, and the "Now" sections of Eisler's book revolve around Livia's attempts to track down Nason, as well as the men who initially abused them. These have more of the conventional contours of a thriller, verging at moments on the ridiculous, but even here the novel is careful to grant Livia the full complexity of her awful history, the murderousness, the helplessness, the sorrow and the self-loathing that underlie her adult strength. Eisler is an earnest author, kind of nerdy. He likes detail. Almost every thriller has a lead who's a master of jujitsu, but this one, in some of its finest scenes, actually traces Livia's slow acquisition of the art, the appeal of the power and surprising friendships it brings her. This is a nice change from the norm, and it's emblematic of Eisler's humane and grounded approach to writing a tall tale. His language is clear, unpretentious, a little clunky, a little hammy. Caught up in Livia's journey, you barely notice it's there. CHARLES FINCH is the author of "The Last Enchantments" and other novels. "The Inheritance," the latest installment of his Charles Lenox mystery series, will be published this week.


Library Journal Review

At the end of World War II, occupied Venice is a dangerous city, even for a simple fisherman like Cenzo Vianello. Cenzo's life is upended when he finds a woman floating in the lagoon and decides to protect her rather than turn her over to the German authorities. Giulia is an upper-class Jewish escapee, and Cenzo uses his connections to smuggle her out of Venice after spending a few days with her fishing and growing close. When the Italian military seeks assistance identifying the man who betrayed Giulia's family, Cenzo agrees to help track her down. He must navigate a treacherous world filled with shifting allegiances while his family's past complicates matters further. A strong, atmospheric opening draws readers into a 1940s Venetian fishing village during wartime. However, Cenzo and Giulia's relationship doesn't feel fully fleshed out, making it hard to be invested in the risks he takes to find her. Cenzo is often catching up to the action, not driving it, keeping readers at an arm's length against a backdrop of complicated Italian history. VERDICT This stand-alone novel may appeal more to historical fiction fans than readers of Smith's (Tatiana) espionage thrillers.-Emily Byers, Salem P.L., OR © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.