Book Review: The Girl from Venice

In need of a good beach read this summer? Check out Martin Cruz Smith’s novel, reviewed by NIAF in our Ambassador magazine

In Martin Cruz Smith’s most recent novel, the author makes a departure from his usual mystery writing and delves into the world of historic fiction, set against the backdrop of occupied Venice in World War II. In “The Girl from Venice,” the war is ending, but Venice remains under German control, making life difficult and dangerous for its inhabitants. Cruz Smith’s story follows the life of a Venetian fisherman, Cenzo, who finds the body of a young Jewish girl named Giulia floating in Venice’s lagoon, and rescues her. Cenzo’s decision to hide Giulia from the Nazis rather than turn her in suddenly entangles him in political games between Germans, Fascists, and the Italian resistance movement. 

Cruz Smith takes the reader from the muddy shores of Venice to the palaces of Salò with captivating storytelling, but the novel’s strength comes from its excellent balance of war and character development. As Cenzo and Giulia’s relationship grows from one of happenstance to love, the stakes of their actions and of the war itself become much higher. There have been many novels set in Italy during World War II, but this one offers a refreshing read for those interested in World War II fiction that explores the effects of war on ordinary people, rather than the movement of nations.

– Review by Danielle DeSimone, NIAF’s Social Media Manager & Assistant Editor. 


This review appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of NIAF’s Ambassador Magazine.

The Girl from Venice by Martin Cruz Smith. Simon & Schuster Publishing. 305 pages; $27.

For more information on the novel or its author, visit

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