The Venice Sketchbook

The Venice Sketchbook book against white pillows and background

Book Review

The Venice Sketchbook by Rhys Bowen

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The city of Venice — could there be a more romantic setting? Bestselling author, Rhys Bowen, truly captures the charm of this ancient, Italian port. Her writing is vivid, inviting readers to experience the sights, smells, and tastes of a city built along the canals in this romantic, historical fiction. The Venice Sketchbook was first and foremost, very well set.

The Story:

From the publisher: Caroline Grant is struggling to accept the end of her marriage when she receives an unexpected bequest. Her beloved great-aunt Lettie leaves her a sketchbook, three keys, and a final whisper…Venice.

It’s 1938 when art teacher Juliet Browning arrives in romantic Venice. For her students, it’s a wealth of history, art, and beauty. For Juliet, it’s poignant memories and a chance to reconnect with Leonardo Da Rossi, the man she loves whose future is already determined by his noble family. However star-crossed, nothing can come between them. Until the threat of war closes in on Venice and they’re forced to fight, survive, and protect a secret that will bind them forever.

This post contains affiliate links; as an Amazon associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Reader’s Thoughts

In addition to the gorgeous setting Bowen created, I really enjoyed both timelines in this novel. Juliet’s story is written in journal format and tells of a young artist who falls in love while on a trip to Venice. The love story is touching and I enjoyed how it spanned the decades. While it partly takes place during WWII, it doesn’t feel like a war novel — a difference that separates it from many other historical novels set during this time period.

In the modern-day timeline, Caroline is led to Venice after the passing of her great-aunt Lettie. With only a sketchbook, a set of keys, and a few jumbled words, Caroline’s story contains a little mystery and a little love as she strives to uncover the truth behind her aunt’s deathbed whisperings.

Caroline’s story felt shorter but was no less intriguing. What I didn’t like, however, was that it seemed to end quite abruptly. I was hooked by the characters and wanted to read more! What happened next? I felt this timeline needed another chapter (if not two) to properly wrap things up.

All in all, this book was a light romantic read that had me thoroughly immersed. The descriptions of everyday life in Venice were striking and the characters were enjoyable. For fans of historical fiction looking for a sweet love story, I definitely recommend The Venice Sketchbook.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Venice Sketchbook is available April 13, 2021.

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