This is one of my new favorite books. I loved this book. I have been talking about this book to anyone who will listen to me. It's such a good story, so interesting and complex and I want people to read it. For the past few weeks, anytime someone says, I'm looking for a book to read, I mention this one.
This book is about Venice and love and art and history and heartbreak and figuring out what you want in life and getting older and accepting what you have and what you can and can't change and it is just so very, very good.
Also, there's a bit of a Susanna Kearsley time slip happening throughout the story, so I think this book will appeal to fans of hers (and everyone I know is a fan of hers because her books are amazing.) There are two story lines happening. In present time, Anna goes to Venice to visit her more adventurous friend. Anna's taken the safe route, gotten a job in finance and a flat in London, remaining close to her family, while her two best friends have taken risks, one living with a boyfriend in Venice while teaching English and the other in Paris, writing crime novels. After a series of events - a death and a breakup and the realization that her job isn't her whole life - Anna decides to take her father's advice and travel, beginning with an extended stay in Venice.
In another story line, Ginerva who lived centuries before Anna, during a time when women had much less freedom. She's struggling to pursue her interests. Despite the many years separating their lives, we see similarities in their lives and the two are connected by a painting. The painting will play an important role in both their lives, as it ties them to their loved ones, and reflects their losses and they both try to preserve this work of art, in different ways for different reasons.
The author does a wonderful job of bringing Venice to life, both past and present. I recently returned from a trip to Italy, which included a stop in Venice, which is why I wanted to read this book. I was happy with how vividly the city is described and it felt as if I was allowed to extend my trip beyond the three days I spent wandering around this beautiful city. I was also impressed with the depth of art history included in this book, I kept my iPad next to me, looking up paintings as I read.
Along with the history and art though are some very real, heartbreaking stories about love and friendship. These characters don't have neatly tied up happily ever afters. This book has a very harsh element of real life to it. It made me angry and sad, but then hopeful. There's something powerful about the way these characters overcome the heartaches and put their lives back together and move on. In the end, it all returns to art, and as artist an an art teacher, I very much appreciated that.
I will admit, my one qualm about the story, I thought Anna forgave a bit too easily at one point, I didn't feel as if the extent of her forgiveness was deserved - because I'm the type who stays angry forever. But upon further reflection realized she was in a position in which she didn't have anything to lose. Even if it ended up not working out, she'd still probably be right back where she began, not any worse off than before and she'd made sure she was in a pretty good place to begin with.
I highly recommend this book. It has everything a great story needs - art, history, love and heartbreak.
And the ebook is only 99 cents on amazon at the moment. I like this book so much, I'd seriously consider buying copies for all my friends if I could be certain they'd read it.
I received a review copy via NetGalley.