From the blurb:
After her husband’s untimely demise, Marietta Gatti is banished from the family’s villa by her spiteful mother-in-law. She returns to her hometown of Venice and her only kin—a father she hasn’t spoken to since her forced marriage. Her hope of making amends is crushed when she learns she is too late, for he recently has died under suspicious circumstances. Grief-stricken, Marietta retraces her father’s last night only to discover someone may have wanted him dead—and she may be next. When the prime suspect turns out to be the father of the man she is falling in love with, Marietta risks her future happiness and her life to avenge the death of a man she once hated.
Elizabeth McKenna’s latest novel takes you back to eighteenth century Carnival, where lovers meet discreetly, and masks make everyone equal.
I’ve had this book on my ‘to read’ list for a while now, because I love Elizabeth’s writing and because I adore the setting: Venice. But I put off reading it until now because my last novel, The Echoes of Love, is also set in Venice, and I didn’t want to confuse myself in my writing. I’m so glad I kept hold of the book because I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
There is so much emotion; from the opening, when we encounter the heroine trapped in a loveless and cruel marriage, I was so engaged that I could not put the book down. I very much liked Marietta, and her spirit in striking out alone in a man’s world and trying to seek justice for her father. So much passion and strength of character.
Thank goodness the horrendous husband does not stick around for long in the story, leaving the path clear for Marietta to find someone new – something worthy of her. I really liked Nico, the man she falls in love with. He has steel in him, but his own struggle to fight as well: he is losing his eyesight, and is desperate to seek out a miracle cure.
The Venetian setting is wonderful, so atmospheric and vivid that I could really imagine it in my mind as I read. I adored the use of Carnival masks, those iconic objects of beauty that allow all manner of subterfuge and passion. I also loved the cast of characters in Venice, which felt true to the time, especially Casanova. The Venice of 1753 that the author describes so well comes across as small, claustrophobic even, where everyone knew each other’s business and cunning and debauchery were rife.
Art is important in the narrative. Marietta is distraught when her mother-in-law burns her paintings (a terrible moment), and her poor father had struggled to paint after his wife’s death. I very much enjoyed the references to art; and what better location for a story around art than Venice, which has inspired so many great artists in history?
Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and recommend it to those who, like me, love the city of Venice and are swept away by the intrigue and romance of the place, while also having a willingness to look beneath her beautiful, exotic mask to see what lies beneath.
Venice in the Moonlight is available now from Amazon; click on the book cover below to visit the store.