Looking for a gift book? Buy DREAM OF VENICE.


We tend to be underwhelmed by gift books and coffeetable books, especially when they're about Venice. We've seen too many heavy, expensive books that consisted mostly of standard tourist photos (gondolas, Carnival masks) and seemed destined to gather dust on bookshelves.

This year, however, we received a review copy of a readable--and affordable--book that breaks the mold. It's titled Dream of Venice, with photographs by Charles Christopher and editing by JoAnn Locktov (who also has written two books about contemporary mosaics).

We recommend Dream of Venice with enthusiasm, and if you're looking for the perfect gift book--for the holidays, for Valentine's Day, for a birthday or anniversary, or for yourself--we suggest that you read our illustrated review at Veniceforvisitors.com:

Dream of Venice Book Review


The Gondola Maker book cover

ABOVE: The cover of The Gondola Maker, a new novel by Laura Morelli.

We recently received an announcement from Laura Fabiani of Italy Book Tours that we wanted to share with you. It's about The Gondola Maker, a novel by Laura Morelli, who has put her background as an art historian to work in creating "a tale of artisanal tradition and family bonds set in one of the world's most magnificent settings, Renaissance Venice."

Here's a description of the book:

"When Luca Vianello, the heir to a renowned gondola-making enterprise, experiences an unexpected tragedy in the boatyard, he believes that his destiny lies elsewhere. Soon he finds himself drawn to restore an antique gondola with the dream of taking a girl for a ride. Lovers of historical fiction will appreciate the authentic details of gondola craftsmanship, along with an intimate first-person narrative set against the richly textured backdrop of 16th-Century Venice."

About the author:

Laura Morelli earned a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University, where she was a Bass Writing Fellow and an Andrew W. Mellon Doctoral Fellow. She has taught college art history in the U.S. and at Trinity College in Rome. She is the creator of the authentic guidebook series that includes Made in Italy, Made in France, and Made in the Southwest, published by Rizzoli. Laura is a frequent contributor to National Geographic Traveler and ther national magazines and newspapers. A native of coastal Georgia, she is married and is busy raising four children. The Gondola Maker is her first work of fiction.

Awards: The Gondola Maker has already received an IPPY ((Independent Publisher) Award for Best Adult Fiction E-book. It was a finalist for the 2014 National Indie Experience Award and the 2014 Eric Hoffer Award.

For more information about the book (including quotes from Publishers Weekly, Under the Tuscan Sun author Francis Mayes, and other sources), see the page about The Gondola Maker on Laura Morelli's Web site. The novel is available in paperback and e-book editions, and you can order an autographed paperback directly from the author.


New book: 'The Midwife of Venice'


ABOVE: The cover for the U.S. edition of The Midwife of Venice, which was published by Simon & Schuster's Gallery Books on February 14. 

Roberta Rich, an American-born author, has written an historical novel titled The Midwife of Venice that's likely to be of interest to Venetophiles and anyone with an interest in European Jewish history.

Here's an official blurb for the novel, which is set in the Venetian Ghetto:

"Hannah Levi, a midwife in the Venetian ghetto, has gained renown for her skill in coaxing reluctant babies out of their mother’s bellies using her 'birthing spoons,' a rudimentary form of forceps. One night a Christian nobleman, Conte Paolo di Padovani appears at Hannah’s door in the Jewish ghetto with an impossible request.He implores Hannah to help his dying wife and save their unborn child. But a Papal edict has made it a crime, punishable by death, for Jews to render medical treatment to Christians. The Conte offers her a huge sum of money, enough to enable her to sail to Malta to ransom her beloved husband, Isaac, who has been captured at sea and is a slave of the Knights of St. John.

"Against the Rabbi’s advice, Hannah goes with the Conte and delivers the infant, Matteo, a child who captures her heart.  As she prepares to depart for Malta to rescue Isaac, she discovers that the baby’s uncles are plotting to murder the baby in order to seize the family fortune.  In the absence of the Conte and his wife who are in Ferrara on urgent family matters, there is no one but Hannah to save Matteo. She enlists her sister Jessica who is a courtesan and living as a Christian outside the ghetto. An outbreak of the plague traps them in Venice and makes them easy prey for the baby’s murderous uncles.

"Woven through Hannah’s travails are Isaac’s hardships as a slave in Malta. Blessed with wit and charm, he earns scraps of food as a scribe and pins his hopes for freedom on bartering his precious silkworm eggs. To reach Isaac, who believes she has died in the plague, Hannah must outsmart the di Padovani family and sail to Malta before Isaac manages to buy his passage to a new life in Constantinople."

The Midwife in Venice has been published in the United States, Britain, Canada, Germany, and Turkey. Elle Magazine describes the book as "a lavishly detailed historical novel," and Publishers Weekly writes: "In her U.S. debut, Rich successfully captures the seedy side of 16th-Century Venice--the Jewish ghetto, the plague, the confluence of religious and legal authority....Isaac comes to full life: his thoughts, feelings, humor, and behavior leap off the page."

For more about the book (including a sample chapter), visit the author's Web site at robertarich.com.