THE GIRL FROM VENICE
Booklist Reviews 2016 August #1
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. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2016 September #2
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 Journal.
PW Reviews 2016 August #5
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.)[Page ]. Copyright 2016 PWxyz LLC