Book Review: The Eyes of Venice by Alessandro Barbero

Title: The Eyes of Venice
Author: Alessandro Barbero
Publisher: Europa Editions
ISBN: 978-1609450823
Genre: Literary Fiction
Pages: 448
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4/5

I love reading different types of books. Books which are a little different from what others are reading. Something which is hidden and at the same time is marvelous when it comes to the writing style and plot. Maybe that is why; “The Eyes of Venice” by Alessandro Barbero caught my attention when it came to me for a review.

Books choose the reader and this one clearly chose me. So I had to read it and I did. I also have this penchant need to read translated works. It is always good as far as I am concerned, as it gives me a better and wider perspective of the world we live in and the world gone by. “The Eyes of Venice” is one such gem of a book.

Venice is according to me the most romantic city in the world and this is where the story is set and that too in the late 1500s. Venice is unforgiving as a city. The rules are set in stone and the judicial system is as strong as ever. The Holy Office harbors suspicions about everything and everyone. Everyone is watched closely. Almost all citizens are. This kind of reminded me of Orwell’s 1984 to some extent.

In all this action and drama, a young stonemason by the name of Michele has been accused of a crime he didn’t commit. He is afraid for his life and confused; he flees the city aboard a ship carrying a gold coin, leaving behind his young wife, Bianca. While Michele carries on with his adventures on board, and as the ship moves from one port to another. Bianca on the other hand, leads her life in Venice, waiting for her husband to return and battling life day by day in its dark alleys and knows more about the city than she ever would have.

The plot is not fantastical, and yet the storytelling is brilliant. That is what draws you to the book. The writing is stark and complex for a plot like this one, but that is what takes you in. As a reader, you actually start feeling for Michele and Bianca and a host of secondary characters.

For a book of this nature, the translation also matters and I must say that Gregory Conti has done a spellbinding job of it. I had to turn every page and know what is going to happen next and that credit goes to the way the book has been translated from the Italian.

“The Eyes of Venice” is a book set in times we cannot imagine and that attracted me the most to it. The scenery, the setting, the characters and the story all combine to become this wonderful work of literary fiction, spanning years of love, loneliness, deceit and giving it all to survive. A must read.

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