This was a random impulse request on NetGalley. I think I thought it was written by a different author (not sure who I was thinking of) an dI thought it was going to be a fun summer read ( it wasn’t). Despite being wrong on both accounts I still ended up liking this book. I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
When Charlotte wins a scholarship to a writing workshop in Venice with the charismatic and brilliant Luca Bruni, it’s a dream come true. Writing is her passion, she loves Bruni’s books, and going to that romantic and magical sinking city gives her the chance to solve a long-time family mystery about a Venetian poet deep in their lineage, Isabella Di Angelo, who just might be the real author of a very famous poem.
Bruni’s villa on the eerie island of La Calamita is extravagant—lush beyond belief, and the other students are both inspiring and intimidating. Venice itself is beautiful, charming, and seductive, but so is Luca Bruni. As his behavior becomes increasingly unnerving, and as Charlotte begins to unearth the long-lost work of Isabella with the help of sweet, smart Italian Dante, other things begin to rise, too—secrets about the past, and secrets about the present.
As the events of the summer build to a shattering climax, Charlotte will be forced to confront some dark truths about the history of powerful men—and about the determination of creative girls—in this stunning new novel from award-winning author Deb Caletti.
This was not the romance set in Venice that I thought it would be, but I am still very happy that I read it. It ended up being a lot more dark and intense than I was expecting but it was well-written and illuminating.
I loved the historical aspects of this book: walking through Venice, tracking down Charlotte’s family member’s real history, and reclaiming her story. I certainly felt transported to Venice with the colorful descriptions and the attention to detail when it came to navigating Venice and noting various landmarks.
Charlotte was interesting to read about. I went back and forth between wanting to shake her so she could see what was right in front of her and wanting to hug her. The author did a great job of showing how someone with a good head on their shoulders can be manipulated into feeling and doing things very out of character for them.
I honestly could have done without the romance between Dante and Charlotte. I didn’t hate it by any means but it just didn’t feel very necessary. He didn’t stand out very much on his own, though I did love his mother.
This book covered sexual assault, manipulation, and harassment more extensively than I had anticipated but did it so well. I had to put the book down numerous times because it was a little overwhelming at times. It’s like when I read books about cults. As the reader it’s often so easy to see who the “bad guy” is but when you think about it taking place in real life it’s a lot less clear. It’s scary how someone can so easily manipulate someone into feeling so much self-doubt and such little self-worth that they will ignore their instincts and put themselves in dangerous situations out of fear and coercion. This book made me feel both vulnerable and empowered which was a strange combination and something I wasn’t expecting to feel from this book.
I’m glad I read this, even if it wasn’t nearly as light as I thought it would be. I loved the history of Charlotte’s family and the passion and effort that went into straightening out what really happened. The heavier topics in this book were treated respectfully and felt very compelling. I would definitely recommend giving this a read but just know that it’s more like Blood, Water, Paint than Love & Gelato. If you’re interested in that then this book would be perfect for you.