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Publisher's Summary

Love and secrets collide in Venice during WWII in an enthralling novel of brief encounters and lasting romance by the New York Times best-selling author of The Tuscan Child and Above the Bay of Angels.

Caroline Grant is struggling to accept the end of her marriage when she receives an unexpected bequest. Her beloved great-aunt Lettie leaves her a sketchbook, three keys, and a final whisper...Venice. Caroline’s quest: to scatter Juliet “Lettie” Browning’s ashes in the city she loved and to unlock the mysteries stored away for more than 60 years.

It’s 1938 when art teacher Juliet Browning arrives in romantic Venice. For her students, it’s a wealth of history, art, and beauty. For Juliet, it’s poignant memories and a chance to reconnect with Leonardo Da Rossi, the man she loves whose future is already determined by his noble family. However star-crossed, nothing can come between them. Until the threat of war closes in on Venice and they’re forced to fight, survive, and protect a secret that will bind them forever.

Key by key, Lettie’s life of impossible love, loss, and courage unfolds. It’s one that Caroline can now make right again as her own journey of self-discovery begins.

©2021 Janet Quin-Harkin, writing as Rhys Bowen (P)2021 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about The Venice Sketchbook

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Poor character and storyline development

If you like good character development and well thought out story lines, this is unfortunately not the book for you. Don’t let the prologue fool you - the book is not interesting, the ‘love’ between the characters is not at all developed, and the main characters are terribly frustrating and make the WORST decisions. I barely got through it. Save yourself the time, trust my review, and pass.

48 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

This took a long time to get nowhere.

I almost gave up until they introduced the second timeline. Then, it never really caught up with the potential of this story, which was a great idea. I didn't mind that some parts never connected or finished, but we pass by rich characters and their storylines just to be left in the dark. Wasted potential. If I had been given more character development and information, as another reviewer mentioned, it might have been worth the ending. I won't recommend, but also won't stop someone who wants to read about Venice. Use a map and follow along, there is a lot of streets and sights mentioned.

35 people found this helpful

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A magical, heartbreaking tale

World War II fiction from the Italian perspective is becoming one of my favorites. The author drew me in to these complex people making the best decisions they could in the most devastating of circumstances. I am so sad the book ended. I am invested in the characters lives and desperately need to know more about Caroline and how “the rest of the story” goes. Well worth a credit!

27 people found this helpful

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History, Mystery, Romance, Danger, Tragedy, Hope.

A solid story that spans generations. Great atmosphere. Rich characterizations. The only downside for me was the uneven narration that starts out with an exaggerated posh English accent in a sort of breathless, comedic delivery, before changing both tone and accent. However, to the narrator's credit, she did a good job of delineating the many characters, and did a credible job with male characters. Overall, very satisfying and worth your time.

17 people found this helpful

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Great historical romance/fiction stand alone

Rhys Bowen has another winner with The Venice Sketchbook. Following 2 separate timelines, we become immersed in the life of Juliette, an English ex-pat caught in Venice during WW2. In the present, Juliette’s great niece Carolyn goes to Venice to scatter Juliette’s ashes, and to try to unravel the secrets of her great aunts past. What follows is a tale of great love, great loss and triumph through inner strength.

13 people found this helpful

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Best book ever!!

I have read almost all of Rhys Bowen’s books. The Venice Sketchbook is one my most favorite and is an amazing book filled with twists and turns. It gives you the wonderful feeling of not wanting the book to ever end!! Thank you!!!!

13 people found this helpful

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Another great stand-alone story by Rhys Bowen

I enjoyed the multiple time lines, the historical setting, and the love stories. Now I want to go to Venice!

11 people found this helpful

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Beautiful, sad, lonely, haunting...

I have listened to dozens of WW2 books..

This one is very much one i will listen to again.

I wish there was more about how Great Auntie lived..even just two more paragraphs..

Good job!

10 people found this helpful

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Another Excellent Story!

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! Both the interesting story and outstanding narration by Barrie Kreinik. I always look forward Rhys Bowen books!

8 people found this helpful

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A bit too much of a love story for my taste

There narration was fine but I wish I had known that this was romance novel before I started. Not my favorite genre and I wouldn't have bought the audiobook. Having said that, the characters were uneven and there were gaping holes in the storyline. Waste of a credit for me.

6 people found this helpful

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  • allie johnson
  • 06-06-21

loved it

fabulous listen. Great narrator , very entertaining and interesting storyline, with goid historical information. would definitely recommend.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Sue in the woods
  • 06-12-21

Layered love story

An easy “beach read” story of women’s magazine ilk. I wasn’t sure I was going to last but persevered and did enjoy it once the stories got underway. The layering saved the day for me, as the author foreshadows, giving the reader information that the character doesn’t yet have.

The narration was excellent. It was easy to follow who was speaking.

Nice holiday story.

4 people found this helpful

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  • MISS JUDITH C WILLIS
  • 11-26-21

Great story, shame about narrator.

Loved the story, the dual narrative worked really well and kept me hooked.

I would have given 5 stars, but was disappointed by the American narrator trying to do an English accent! Why, oh why, pick an American to narrate this?! Some of the pronunciation was terrible and completely unnatural. At times, it sounded like a computerised voice. That said, the other accents were very good.

A great story, fascinating history and a beautiful depiction of Venice. A real page turner. I'll definitely read/listen to her other works.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Charlotte Estel
  • 10-02-21

Loved this!

I bought this to make up a 2 for 1 deal....so glad I did! Beautiful story, so well written and the narrator was brilliant. Totally loved it.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 11-10-21

predictable with annoying narration

I'm sorry, but why get an American to do an awful English public school accent ? Not sure why I listened to the end. a bit of old fashioned upper class chic lit

2 people found this helpful

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  • Lucia
  • 08-12-21

Compelling listening!

Absolutely loved this,twists and turns,well written and beautiful characters to relate to.Compelling storyline.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Cathryn Shilling
  • 05-16-21

Unfortunate narration

I enjoyed the story but why on earth was an American chosen to narrate it? At times it sounded like a voice created by a computer not that of a middle class English woman.

2 people found this helpful

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  • pal
  • 05-01-21

don't normally like books which mix times but this

had it on could not sto it brilliant don't normally like books which switch eras this was well done another good book from this writer

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anneli
  • 01-21-22

Loved the story

I enjoyed listening to this story and the narrator was very good. I did feel I was in Venice.

1 person found this helpful

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  • jan maclean
  • 12-12-21

Enjoyed this Book

I really enjoyed this book and the descriptions of Venice made me feel I was back in that city. If I had a criticism it would be that it ended very abruptly, but perhaps it had to. It had me wanting more. All in all a pleasant read.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Claire Innes
  • 10-25-21

Light relief!

After listening to a couple of Orwell stories I needed to heal! This was a beautiful romantic story spanning a number of generations with some beautiful descriptions of Venice bringing back vivid memories of a visit so long ago. A really nice escape into another world.

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  • Clare
  • 07-30-21

Delightful story

I loved the story and the narration. It was a fascinating story illuminating life and art in Venice during the Second World War.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Grace Quinn
  • 05-23-21

A quick read but has a blooper, regarding ggrandmo

I don't understand how Juliet could be Caroline's great grand mother when juliet only had a child.

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  • Kristine Brown
  • 05-09-21

An excellent listen

My favourite stand-alone audiobook book of Rhys Bowens so far, and I have enjoyed all of them. I really liked the narrator and I hope she is used again for her books in the future. A bit of a tear-jerker at the end.

You can read all the other comments about the storyline.

Thank you and looking forward to your next book.