Cover Image: The Venice Sketchbook

The Venice Sketchbook

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Member Reviews

The Venice Sketchbook is an enjoyable book.   Rhys Bowen writing is so vivid told in dual timelines.    Love and secrets come alive in the story told between 60 years.

Thank you @NetGalley, @LakeUnionPublishing @RhysBowen for the Advance Readers Copy for my honest review.
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This is a super fun read. I really enjoyed this one!

Many thanks to the author, the publisher, and Netgalley for my ARC. All opinions are my own.
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The Venice Sketchbook is the story of Caroline and her great-aunt Lettie. This is a multiple POV, multiple time frame novel set in Venice. Lettie's story takes place from 1920s through 1944 whereas Caroline's is in 2001. When Lettie passes in 2001 Caroline inherits her estate and with it a box that holds sketchpads of Venice and a set of keys. Caroline had no idea Lettie had ever been to Venice but she is now on her own adventure to find out what happened while she was there. 
What I loved is that not a lot of WWII era novels are set in Italy let alone Venice so it was nice to be able to have the story set in a different place and it be one where they lead a different live during that time. I also love reading Rhys Bowen novels because no matter how long they are you get drawn in and read them in one day (in this case the 400+ page novel took two days but one really late night).
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Great story. Love the cross storylines and the love shared in this beautiful city. 

Brave young woman searching for her own story. Enjoy this sweet story. You may mark your calendar to reread this every couple of years. It’s just that good.
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Loved this book!  Rhys Bowen has outdone herself with this book.  A look at her family's past gives Carolyn hope and help with her own future.  She inherits her Aunt Juliet "Lettie" Browning's estate with a request to scatter her ashes in Venice.  Along the way, she finds 60 year old secrets, some of them bombshells, exploding accepted family lore about Aunt Lettie.
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Thank you to NetGalley & Lake Union Publishing for the opportunity to read and review this book before it's publication date! This in no way affected my review, opinions are my own.

Having never read Rhys Bowen before (but always having wanted to!), I went into this book with a lot of anticipation - and that might have been my downfall.

I genuinely liked the writing (especially the descriptions of Venice!), and both timelines held my attention ... but I wouldn't necessarily say that I overly enjoyed either timeline or any of the characters. I *liked* everything, and I would for sure give Rhys Bowen another try, but this one didn't really stand out for me.

(It also employs one of my least favorite historical fiction tropes, the "girl has no understanding of anatomy or sex and of COURSE the most unlikely thing to have happen after ONE time happens" - which, in all fairness, is probably not historically inaccurate, but it's still not my favorite.)
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I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley.

I enjoyed the description of Venice in the two time periods covered in this novel. The characters were well developed and the story connected the families from WWII to the early 21st century. The sketchbook provides the link across the years.

This story blends elements of historical fiction, mystery, and romance. Grab a glass of wine and enjoy your tour of Venice!
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Bowen’s vivid descriptions had me feeling as if I were in Venice with Caroline and Leo. I was hooked from the beginning. This is easily one of my favorite books of the year.
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When 18 year old Juliet travels to Venice before enrolling in art school, she could never have known the impact of the trip on the rest of her life. Moving between Juliet’s WWII life in Venice and Charlotte’s Venice visit in 2001, an interesting story unfolds.
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This was a great book. Easy to read, kept me interested with beautiful descriptions and pleasant characters. Very enjoyable
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Rhys Bowen can surely write a book that will keep you hooked.
Excellent storytelling and character development. The plot is tightly knitted, the storytelling excellent.
HIghly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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I love dual timeline stories, and I definitely enjoyed this one. Venice setting was very charming. Writing & the characters were enjoyable. It pulls you in and take s you with characters.

Thanks a lot to NG and the publisher for this copy.
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Am I a little travel deprived?  YES!

“The Venice Sketchbook” will take you on a walking tour of the canals and calles of Venice, and treat you to a second-hand taste of its delights.  While the WWII story of Juliet has some very tragic elements, it is clear that she has lived a full life, and when she passes on a legacy to her grandniece, it starts Carolyn on a new life.

Enjoy this while sitting in the sunshine with a sparkling glass of Prosecco!
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Its my first time ready Rhys. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this amazing book. Its been a while since a book blew my mind. This book does it thoroughly.
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Another book about WWII, clandestine activities, love found and denied, a time when men and women were a bit more selfless, willing to suffer to serve their country and fellow man, trying to endure through the worst personal losses. Setting this story in Venice was a huge plus as the city became perhaps the most important distraction and component. In this dual time line story I found the war years much more interesting and important than the story that evolved in 2001. The mechanism to get the reader back to the mystery worked even in its shallow framework, but was it really necessary to cast a newly divorced mother as so completely helpless?

The lead up to the ending became obvious and the neat tidy package was just a little too perfect. Wishing once again for half stars this was a 3-1/2 star read for me.Thank you NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for a copy.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Dual timeline, likeable characters, wonderful setting with romance and mystery. If you love this type of story and Venice read this.  It will be lovely to visit there again one day but in the meantime we have the descriptions of Venice in this book to remind us of what we are missing.
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A dual time line historical fiction book, this was an easy read about secrets, mysteries and family framed by World War II and Venice, which is the best part, in these travel-restriction times.
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To get a Dear John Letter via a Gossip Magazine is Cold!  Caroline Grant knew she and her husband only married because of their son. However, she is still reeling from the news and the fact her son is still visiting his father in the United States a whole ocean away. 
Caroline gets a bequest of keys,a sketchbook, and go to Venice. Caroline decides she wants to find out what her Great-Aunt Juliet found so enticing about Venice.

The book is written in two voices. Caroline as she unfolds her Aunts life by unlocking the keys and maybe she discovers some of her own personal secrets and dreams. 

I received a free advanced copy from NetGalley and these are my willingly given thoughts and opinions.
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I first discovered Rhys Bowen when I picked up a book in her cozy mystery series. I loved it so much I looked to see what else she had written and discovered she also wrote standalone, dual timeline historical fiction, mostly to do with WWII. You know I'm a big WWII fan so I was all over those books. I really loved the last one so I was anxious to see what she would come out with this year with The Venice Sketchbook.

I found this book a little slow to begin with, but that might be because I was so eager about reading this book and couldn't wait to get to the meat of the story.

The "present-day" chapters with Caroline are set in 2001 and the historical chapters with Juliette span a time frame from the late 1920s to the late 1940s (though there is a jump of about 10 years that are not covered). Juliette is Caroline's great-aunt and when she dies she leaves a box of mementos for Caroline. As Juliette has lead a typical British spinster life, the items in the box are a total mystery. In addition to the death of her great-aunt, who has been living with her grandmother for many years, Caroline is also dealing with the unpleasant business of a divorce and custody battle. So a trip to Venice to discover a life she never knew her great-aunt had seems to be just the thing to take her mind off her own troubles.

I've read all but one of Bowen's standalone novels so while I enjoyed The Venice Sketchbook, it is nowhere near my favorite. I didn't really care for Caroline. I think I would have been on a plane to the U.S. to see my son if I had been told he was traumatized by the events of 9/11 and couldn't fly to return home. Instead she flys off to Venice. I admit that is the much more romantic option. I think I would have thought better of Caroline if she went during the summer when her son was scheduled to be in the U.S. with his dad instead of as a response to her fear that his dad would never let him return. The chapters with Caroline are pretty sparse so the reader doesn't get a lot of opportunity to connect with her. Outside of her discoveries of what the keys go to, I much preferred to be in Juliette's chapters.

I really did like Juliette and I wonder if I would have liked the story better if it had been her returning to Venice after all those years to discover what happened. I loved the descriptions of Venice in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s that Juliette provided us with. Caroline's descriptions were less colorful and lively because she was there in late fall so it was just rain. Whereas Juliette enjoyed the many festivals and parties. 

Overall, though, the book felt a bit too much like a cookie-cutter of the previous books for me to enjoy it as a fresh new story. I would have liked to have more of Juliette's thoughts after she returned home at the end of the war but at least we get more of her story than perhaps Caroline will ever discover. If you are looking for a pleasant read to pass the time with, then I recommend getting this book. If nothing else, it will make you want to travel to Venice and maybe satisfy slightly the travel cravings we've had to deny for the past year.

Oh, and the descriptions of food will make you hungry so make sure to have snacks handy while reading.

My review will be published at Girl Who Reads on Thursday, April 28 - https://www.girl-who-reads.com/2021/04/the-venice-sketchbook-by-rhys-bowen.html
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3.5 Stars. I was really excited for this books as the timeline of Venice pre and during WWII sounded fascinating. The scenes and descriptions of Venice were absolutely beautiful, I really enjoyed those parts and felt like I was there. Juliet's story and everything that happened to her in Venice was truly amazing and at times quite sad, but unfortunately the writing fell a bit flat to me. I did enjoy the dual timelines between Juliet and her great niece Caroline, but the changes sometimes felt abrupt. Thank you to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for the ARC.
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