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The Girl from Venice
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Archive: Other Books > The Girl from Venice by Martin Cruz Smith - 3.5 stars

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message 1: by annapi (last edited Oct 20, 2017 11:31AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

annapi | 5073 comments Interesting story set in Italy near the end of WWII. It opens with a fisherman, Cenzo, pulling a young girl's body from the sea. Shortly thereafter a German boat intercepts him, looking for a young girl. Though Cenzo denies seeing any such girl, they search his boat, but come up with nothing. Later he finds the girl hiding, apparently not dead as he had first thought. She is an escaped Jew, and Cenzo tries to find a way to smuggle her out of his little fishing village. Through further events we learn the back story of Cenzo and his two brothers, the younger one dead in the war, the older one an actor who works Mussolini's propaganda machine.

I really liked the way this story began. It had almost an ethereal quality to it, with the mystery of the young girl, and the quiet steady character of Cenzo. It continued to be intriguing through the middle, but somehow at the end it faltered, and I lost interest in the characters. This is marketed as a romance, but the main characters are so little together, and that in the midst of war, that there is hardly time to develop a romance. I would classify this as more historical fiction. The view of the war from the Italian side is interesting, as we see characters shifting allegiances in their attempts to survive the war that they know is coming to an end.

It ended in an ambiguous way, almost as if the author did not himself know how he wanted his protagonists to choose the direction of their lives. Kind of a cop out in a way, IMO. Good enough, but with the weak ending I give this 3.5 stars, and round down.

Michael (mike999) | 569 comments Great job on the pluses and minuses. For anyone who has enjoyed his decades of writing it was refreshing to see him spreading his wings in historical fiction. He has extended his kind of character driven thrillers into WW2 in my favorite book of his, Stallion Gate.
By toning down the thriller action with this tale he is kind of on the same path as Lehane amd James Lee Burke.

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