The Venice Sketchbook by Rhys Bowen
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.
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.
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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.
The Venice Sketchbook is available April 13, 2021.