Prepare to be Mesmerized by Martin Cruz Smith’s ‘The Girl from Venice’ [REVIEW]

Fisherman's shed off Pellestrina on the Venetian lagoon

Love blossoms in a fisherman’s humble home on the Venetian lagoon in Martin Cruz Smith’s The Girl from Venice.
(Photo by D’Arcy Vallance, Flickr)

World War II may be drawing to a close, but life is still far from safe when a quiet fisherman pulls a mysterious girl’s lifeless body from the drink. But who is she? Why do the Germans want her? And what can a humble peasant do to save both their lives? Find out in Martin Cruz Smith’s new standalone novel, The Girl from Venice.

Martin Cruz Smith's THE GIRL FROM VENICE

Simon & Schuster

The year is 1945. The place is Italy. Cenzo is a solitary man with an artist’s heart who chooses to live alone after his wife’s betrayal and ultimate demise. He spends his nights on the lagoon, casting his nets looking for fish.

Giulia is the young daughter of a wealthy Jewish family in Venice. Raised with privilege, she is now on the run from the Wehrmacht. But her bravery and determination will only take her so far. Now she has to trust a stranger in order to survive.

At the heart of The Girl from Venice is a love story that comes to vivid life under the deft hand of novelist Martin Cruz Smith. Yet this is more than a romance, it is also a novel steeped in history, a dazzling travel guide to some of the most beautiful parts of Italy, and a wartime thriller that will keep readers turning pages until the very end.

This is my first introduction to the Smith canon, but I must say that this won’t be the last time I immerse myself in his work. He is a gifted wordsmith who writes with an artist’s eye and a storyteller’s ear for dialogue. Cenzo, Giulia, and the rest of the brilliant cast of characters step off the page and into our hearts, forcing us to love, laugh, cheer, or despise them.

He opens the door to a labyrinthine world full of ghosts and shadows, powerful politicians, glittering actresses, and power hungry warriors. Everyone has a secret, an ulterior motive, and is hungry for one thing: survival. Thus each page adds to the mystery, the drama, and the suspense of Smith’s wartime Italy. It’s a captivating place to lose yourself, and you’ll be lured deeper and deeper into this moving tale, wishing that it never had to end.

If you love movies with the romance of Casablanca and novels that are as literate and riveting as All the Light We Cannot See, you won’t want to miss The Girl from Venice.  Here, Martin Cruz Smith delivers a tale that promotes him from good old-fashioned storyteller to a spellbinding writer at the pinnacle of his career. In fact, I think there is only one word that can aptly describe this glorious story: enchanting. Prepare to be mesmerized.

Martin Cruz Smith

Martin Cruz Smith
(Photo by Doug Menuez)


Martin Cruz Smith is the author of Gorky ParkStallion GatePolar StarStalin’s GhostRoseDecember 6, and TatianaHe is the two-time winner of the Hammet Prize (1996 and 1999), a recipient of Britain’s Golden Dagger Award, a winner of the Premio Piemonte Noir Prize (2008), and winner of the Left Coast Crime Lifetime Achievement Award (2011).

The Soviet press has labeled Smith a “graphomaniac,” although he still isn’t sure what this means. But he has also been listed in an advisory book issued to Soviet citizens travelling abroad as a foreign agent provocateur to avoid.

However, here in the States, Smith has been hailed as a “phenomenon” and “a writer of real distinction” (The Washington Post), “masterful” (Entertainment Weekly), and “a master storyteller” (Shelf Awareness).

The son of a jazz musician and a night club singer, Smith was born in 1942 in Reading, Pa., a year after his brother, Jack. The family moved around, landing in places like Albuquerque and El Paso. When Smith was about four, they lived next to the winter quarters of a circus, which explains his lifelong fear of being eaten by a lion.

Smith currently resides in California. Visit his home on the Web, like him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

By Martin Cruz Smith
320 pgs. Simon & Schuster. $27.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

2 Responses to Prepare to be Mesmerized by Martin Cruz Smith’s ‘The Girl from Venice’ [REVIEW]

  1. Pingback: ‘Beneath A Scarlet Sky’ is the Story Mark Sullivan Was Born to Write [REVIEW] | Jathan & Heather

  2. Jathan Fink says:

    Reblogged this on Jadeworks Entertainment and commented:

    If you love movies like Casablanca and literary prize-winners like All the Light We Cannot See, you’re going to fall in love with Martin Cruz Smith’s delicious wartime romantic thriller, The Girl from Venice. Set in WWII Italy, this book lures you in and won’t let go. Find out why our reviewer loved it so much!

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