The Book Blurb
When a rare sixteenth-century manuscript lands on her desk courtesy of William, a struggling painter, shy book restorer Rose makes a startling discovery: it is a palimpsest. Beneath the text is a different document, one that’s been written over. What they discover is the secret diary of William’s ancestor, Giovanni Lomazzo, a Venetian painter who has just been commissioned by Venice’s most powerful admiral to paint a portrait of his favourite courtesan… it is a diary of forbidden love, dangerous political plots, and secrets that could destroy everyone involved.
Together, Rose and William work to solve the mystery of what happened to the secret lovers. As feelings develop between Rose and William, their own experience begins to mirror the affair that they’re uncovering, and each set of lovers is forced to confront the reality of their romance.
A richly detailed and sweeping page-turner, Margaux’s sumptuous portrait of late Renaissance Italy will have you falling headlong into history, slipping in and out of the shadows along the canals of Venice.
I do enjoy historical fiction, so was delighted to read The Lost Diary of Venice for its BLOG TOUR. This is a book of layers that moves from modern day back into the past to Renaissance Italy of the 1500s. There’s a meandering pace to the narrative; this is not a negative. It gives the reader time to savour the richness of the historical detail that clearly comes from a labour of love and superb historical research. I enjoyed the historical writing more than the modern day setting, but both are linked really well as we learn about obsession, needs, desires, love and longing.
The historical plot is rooted in actual history, a tale of artists, courtesans, spies, anti-Semitism and war. I loved the character and journey of Giovanni, an artist who is beginning to lose his sight; it is his reawakening under the care of the alluring, layered character of Chiara that really hold this book together.
There’s a great deal of character development and plotting that works so well in this book, even the villain of the piece is given a reason for his behaviour, of how trauma and pain has molded him into the cruel, detached bigot he has become at this point in the story.
In the modern day world, the past is awakened by the discovery of Giovanni’s diary and through this two people, who are feeling rather lost, connect with each other. It’s another layer from the author and the reader questions the connections we form in relationships, and how time alters our feelings and sometimes we lose a sense of what we had, or have lost. Can these things be regained? Or should we disconnect and find something more ‘real’ and ‘true’ in new experiences. I enjoyed the question of ‘what is real’ in these situations.
It’s a recommended read from me, so do consider The Lost Diary of Venice if you enjoy layered historical fiction with romance, war, culture, mystery and art – lovely escapism for 2020!