The #TFBookClub reads ‘Venetian Gothic’ set in Venice on The Day of the Dead

17th April 2020

Thank you for joining us as we read Venetian Gothic by Philip Gwynne Jones, an All Souls Day mystery set in VENICE (May/June 2020).

We hope you enjoy reading this Gothic mystery, set in bellissimo Venice.

Even the most beautiful city on earth has a dark side . . .

We will be chatting about the book throughout May and June 2020, so if you are reading it with us, please come and join the dialogue!

The #TFBookClub is your book club – we are here to help you discover new titles that will transport you to interesting locations via top literature for some exceptional #literarywanderlust.

As you read, please come and chat and share your thoughts in several ways:

  • Here on our dedicated blogpost, leave your thoughts in the Comments section below
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  • And once you’ve turned the final page, we’d love it if you could write your own review, which you can do on tripfiction.com using the Add A Review tab. Help us to build the #TFBookClub and the TripFiction website!

REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO READING THIS BOOK TOGETHER!

Andrew and Tina for the TripFiction Team

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Comments

  1. User: LisaRowsell

    Posted on: 25/06/2020 at 8:45 am

    Thank you for my copy, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I’ve never been to Venice, and reading this I felt as if I was finally there. It was a little slow going in places, but I loved the characters with Nathan being my favourite. I highly recommend this book, and look forward to reading the author’s other books.

    Comment

  2. User: Claire Broomsgrove

    Posted on: 07/06/2020 at 5:00 pm

    Thank you for the opportunity to read to read Venetian Gothic. I am a fan of a crime thriller but i didn’t see this book in that category it was an affable mystery set in Venice with Nathan Sutherland the British Honorary council stumbling across a mystery on the wonderfully titled Isle of the dead. I particularly enjoyed the culture, charm and cuisine which immersed the reader in the city of Venice. The highlights for me were the descriptions of the fabulous food, with the crime/mystery coming second.

    Comment

    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 08/06/2020 at 8:50 am

      Thanks for your feedback on Venetian Gothic, Claire. Glad you enjoyed aspects of this TripFiction Book Club read, and especially the cultural and culinary images of Venice. Food is such an integral part of travel literature, isn’t it? Search the ‘gastro’ genre in our database for other foodie-focused novels around the world! TF’s Andrew

      Comment

  3. User: Louise

    Posted on: 05/06/2020 at 2:43 pm

    Ok, just finished reading it. Overall I enjoyed the book. An easy read, not too taxing in terms of complexity of the plot – it did feel a bit Midsomer Murders does Venice! However, i thought it had an excellent sense of location with interesting cultural references by the bucketload! I did find the use of Italian words throughout a tad irritating as, although I understood them, I did have a bit of a flashback to Miss Piggy’s protestation of “Pretentious? Moi?”. A good read.

    Comment

    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 08/06/2020 at 8:47 am

      Grazie mille for your thoughts on Venetian Gothic, Louise. I think other TF Book Club readers share your views on it being an ‘easy’ read, with possibly an overload of Italian language, but at least it transported you to beautiful Venice during lockdown! Hope you enjoyed Hay too? TF’s Andrew

      Comment

  4. User: lpcowcher

    Posted on: 31/05/2020 at 2:37 pm

    As fellow readers have commented, it is a bit of a slow burner and is not gripping me as much as I like my crime fiction to do. However, I do think there is a wonderful sense of place, which makes the reading journey very worthwhile! On to the next chapter …

    Comment

  5. User: Rachel Hall

    Posted on: 31/05/2020 at 10:02 am

    Well what a fun and easy-going read this was. Loved the humour, loved Grasmci and I was a particular fan of the term Spritz Nathan for a cheeky alcoholic drink without the water! I will definitely read more of the series and I thought the characterisation was very strong. I did post a review to Goodreads and Amazon and I have added it below. Thanks TF!

    Review:

    Venetian Gothic is the fourth book in Philip Gwynne Jones’ series and served as my introduction to the affable professional translator, Nathan Sutherland, in his capacity as British Honorary Consul in Venice. Nathan has spent the last decade in the city and the previous three years living with his academic girlfriend, Federica (Fede), and his anthropomorphic cat, Gramsci. Although his main duties in the role of consul are limited to helping British tourists with lost passports, for which his amiable persona is ideally suited, he is also an incorrigible sleuth when the need arises!
    ——
    The Venetian’s are getting their city back as tourist depart and a chilly November 2017 sets in and Nathan, along with two friends, has made his voyage to the cemetery island of San Michele on the Day of the Dead to pay his respects to the departed. Co-opted by British Father Michael Raynor to read at a memorial service in the less well kept Anglican part of the burial ground he bears witness to the accidental disinterring of a grave and the more worrying absence of a corpse in the coffin. Assumed to contain the body of twelve-year-old Gabriele Loredan, buried nearly forty years earlier after drowning in 1980 and classed as a British citizen, Nathan needs to resolve the discrepancy under mounting pressure from his ‘boss’ Ambassador Maxwell.
    ——
    Deceased Gabriele was the son of former racing driver and English businessman, Hugo Channing, and his beautiful wife, Cosima Loredan, whose name still holds some sway in Venetian society, and the family were noted for their glamorous lifestyle. Suffering from dementia and wheelchair bound, Hugo, is a shadow of the man he was and his imperious and frosty daughter, Ludovica, is intent on protecting her parents from any distressing enquiries. With consul, Church and police records scant and Ludovica’s obvious intent to head off any possible investigation, Nathan finds himself delving into the secretive families history. It seems Nathan isn’t the only one searching for answers as British journalist, Guy Flemyng, is planning to write a book on the family and making a nuisance of himself asking questions around the city much to Ludovica’s consternation. When Guy disappears and a young British tourist is found dead after showing an interest in the abandoned islands of the lagoon, Nathan starts to suspect that someone is prepared for kill to keep the secrets of forty years ago hidden and the death of Gabriele Loredan could hold the key to the puzzle.
    ——
    The mystery element itself is rather limited and the chances of someone in Nathan’s position getting to the bottom of the investigation are realistically nigh on impossible, however that never detracted from my enjoyment. The pace is gentle and at times I would have liked a more involving crime component to get my teeth into as opposed to Nathan getting his teeth into something to eat! I was a big fan of the characterisation in the novel, not only that of Nathan and Fede, but also the vividly realised secondary cast and Gwynne-Jones conjures up a recurring cast that I would enjoy meeting again in a future outing. The entire novel is narrated in the first person by Nathan in a wonderfully animated and jaunty manner. Whilst he doesn’t take himself too seriously and the mainstay of his daily routine is deciding what to cook, deciding what to drink and his domestic and social life, he does manage the odd bit of sleuthing. Not the most tactful and occasionally something of a buffoon, Fede often comes to his aid and I never had the sense at any point that Nathan’s life was ever under jeopardy due to his prying and as such the novel has a cosy feel to it, despite the murders along the way.
    ——
    Having never visited Venice I certainly enjoyed the sense of place conveyed by Gwynne-Jones but can’t help but think it would be best enjoyed by a reader who knows the city and its culture well and definitely likes their food! Undemanding and easily readable, Venetian Gothic is a civilised crime caper with a side order of culture, cuisine and architectural highlights.

    Comment

    2 Comments

    • User: Rachel

      Posted on: 09/06/2020 at 3:09 pm

      I really can’t wait to link up with Nathan again! Such an unusual protagonist and thank you both at TF for introducing me to him and Gramsci!

      Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 08/06/2020 at 8:54 am

      Thanks for your fab review of Venetian Gothic, Rachel. Glad you enjoyed our latest TF Book Club read, and that you enjoyed being transported to Venice with Nathan. Hope his Spritz has helped you get through lockdown! TF’s Andrew

      Comment

  6. User: Rachel Hall

    Posted on: 27/05/2020 at 5:26 pm

    Well my copy has arrived today and I’ve dived in! Back soon with thoughts! Just wish I had the scenic Venetian backdrop instead of South London!

    Comment

  7. User: lapsapchung

    Posted on: 26/05/2020 at 6:24 am

    Thank you for my copy of the book. I read it over the long weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve never been to Venice but could clearly picture the city thanks to the clear descriptions both outdoors and indoors, and found the map very helpful too.
    An excellent story, with great characters, particularly Nathan whose struggle with giving up smoking gave him a reality and vulnerability that I liked. I also liked his love of cooking and his Cat With Attitude.
    I loved the flow of the book, it was a real pleasure to read, one of those books I tend to read more slowly towards the end because I don’t want it to stop.

    Comment

    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 08/06/2020 at 8:57 am

      So glad this book helped you to explore Venice for the first time. And isn’t it a literary pleasure when you luxuriate in every page towards the end? Thanks for sharing your thoughts on our latest TF Book Club read. TF’s Andrew

      Comment

  8. User: Louise

    Posted on: 23/05/2020 at 12:45 pm

    Just got a copy of the book and looking forward to plunging into Venkce! Bit sidetracked by Hay Festival Digital right now though ….

    Comment

  9. User: Rachel Hall

    Posted on: 20/05/2020 at 9:09 am

    My copy has not arrived yet (Tuesday 19th May). I will report when the book arrives and aim to read promptly. Thanks for your patience.

    Comment

    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 20/05/2020 at 9:43 am

      Hello Rachel.
      I’ve just messaged you…so sorry for the delay, and we’ll chase our publishing contact now. Hopefully the book will be with you very soon, and look forward to hearing your thoughts.
      Many thanks for YOUR patience!
      Andrew

      Comment

  10. User: Sara Hill

    Posted on: 12/05/2020 at 10:11 am

    I really enjoyed reading Venetian Gothic. I have visited Venice although obviously only as a tourist. It brought back happy memories of taking the vaporetta and exploring the very narrow streets.

    I thought Nathan Sutherland was a very likeable character and the descriptions of his home life with Federica and Gramsci the cat were fascinating. I also enjoyed reading about Nathan’s culinary skills. ( I too ate mushrooms on toast in Italy as a main dish ).
    The story unfolded slowly but I enjoyed the slow pace as the facts emerged with satisfactory twists.
    The characters were well rounded and I particularly liked Father Rayner, the tall priest. I was please to find that I understood the majority of the Italian words – I did not see the glossary until I had finished the book.
    I was interested to read ( on page 154) a reference to a pestilence that had killed a third of the citizens of Venice. Relevant to this day.
    If I am ever able to return to Venice I will try and visit some of the streets on the map, but not The Island of the Dead!

    Comment

    1 Comment

    • User: tripfiction

      Posted on: 19/05/2020 at 4:50 pm

      Thank you for your review! Yes, using Italian words does make it feel real (and I didn’t pick up on the Glossary until I had finished the novel!). It’s interesting how “plagues” have had to be dealt with over the centuries….

      Comment

  11. User: Lesley Morton-Evans

    Posted on: 10/05/2020 at 3:28 pm

    Thank you Trip Fiction for including me in the current BC selection.
    It was most definitely a good reading experience which helped me escape from these worrying times we are currently experiencing.
    Although categorised as a Crime Thriller by some, I found it a fun and lighthearted murder mystery, not too serious and undemanding.
    I particularly enjoyed the vivid descriptions of Venetian life, it’s food & culture. Spending approximately 4 months each year in Italy I could identify with the humour gently portrayed by the author by making reference to some of the Italian idiosyncratic behaviours. The various comments throughout the book mentioning either the drinking of or the making of the coffee made me smile. I love the Italian way of life but always feel anxious when Italian friends pop by for a coffee!
    It’s been some years since I last visited Venice and having now read Venetian Gothic, I hope to return when I am next able to be in Italy again. I now want to read Philip Gwynne Jones previous 3 novels featuring Nathan Sutherland as the British Honorary Consul.
    I enjoyed the plot and found the ending very satisfying. Thank you Trip Fiction and Philip Gwynne Jones for transporting me through the canals, architecture and the magic of Venice.
    Would I recommend this book ?
    Si certo !

    Comment

    1 Comment

    • User: tripfiction

      Posted on: 19/05/2020 at 4:48 pm

      @lesley morton-evans
      How lovely that you can indeed travel to Italy… I wonder when you will be able to go again 🙁

      I am so glad you are motivated to pick up Philip’s previous titles! Here’s to Italian travel!!

      Comment

  12. User: Bev

    Posted on: 07/05/2020 at 7:16 am

    I finished reading this book yesterday whilst sitting in the sun. The plot was slow to emerge and then seemed to reach a conclusion quickly. However, the enjoyment for me was in the drawing out of the characters, getting to know Nathan Sutherland, Fede and Gramsci. I liked the description of life and culture in Venice. The I haven’t visited Venice in November but did get a sense of the difference in climate and atmosphere to that in the other seasons.
    I loved Nathan’s wit and his cat, Gramsci scared me! I have visited Venice lots of times and know it reasonably well, I do wonder if this helped with my enjoyment of this book. What do other’s think?

    Comment

    1 Comment

    • User: tripfiction

      Posted on: 10/05/2020 at 4:45 pm

      He is so good on writing about Venice, I felt that the cafe was really the author’s local, that he visited his own fish monger at the Rialto… with a nice engrossing story. And Gramsci, what a character (who doesn’t like fish!!!)

      Comment

  13. User: Janine Phillips

    Posted on: 05/05/2020 at 1:38 pm

    Just finished, I enjoyed escaping to Venice. I found the plot a tad slow but still enjoyed the book.

    Comment

  14. User: Helen Clayton

    Posted on: 03/05/2020 at 2:35 pm

    Venetian Gothic-perfect escapism with a likeable and decent central character (making a refreshing change!) in the form of Nathan Sutherland, honorary consul in Venice. A cast of memorable characters and of course the city always present and depicted by an author with intimate knowledge of the canals and byways. A series of novels that’s developed with unusual stories with a twist, sometimes a little dark and always with humour. Sorry to finish it and a sign of an enjoyable and immersive read is that feeling of #bookbereft. Loved it.

    Comment

    1 Comment

    • User: tripfiction

      Posted on: 10/05/2020 at 4:47 pm

      I feel I have ‘been’ to Venice (prosecco or wine in hand, of course). Thank you for stopping by!

      Comment

  15. User: tripfiction

    Posted on: 03/05/2020 at 1:01 pm

    @bev
    Thank you for leaving your thoughts.. it sounds like you are having a leisurely trip to this wonderful city, the only way to travel at the moment!!

    Comment

  16. User: tripfiction

    Posted on: 03/05/2020 at 12:59 pm

    Thank you so much for stopping by with your thoughts. Sometimes a slow book just doesn’t hit the nail on the head, I find it depends on my mood. Anyway, hope you had a bit of a trip away and enjoyed the Venice backdrop (got to travel somehow!!! 😉 )

    Comment

  17. User: Melanie Daniels

    Posted on: 02/05/2020 at 4:08 pm

    I have just finished this book and have mixed feelings about it really. I enjoy crime thrillers but usually they are quite fast paced, real page turners with lots of twists and turns. Unfortunately, I found this novel to be quite slow. I found myself skim reading some pages and willing something to actually happen. Long periods of time passed without the plot progressing at all and I felt quite impatient with it really. I did enjoy the atmosphere of this novel, and I felt that it really conjured up the overall feel of Venice for me, however, it was just a little too slow for my liking.

    Comment

  18. User: Bev

    Posted on: 01/05/2020 at 8:00 am

    I am struggling with my reading at the moment. Anyone else? I read a lot of books quickly at the start of lockdown. However, this is nothing to do with this lovely armchair travel to Venice. I know Venice reasonably well and I am transported back with this book. I love the line. Venice is described as ‘nice’.
    ‘My hand paused in the act of raising my spritz. In all my years in Venice, I had never, ever heard anyone describe the city as merely ‘nice’.
    I am enjoying this book immensely and taking it slowly is allowing me to bring back memories of my times in Venice and really getting to know the characters.
    Bev

    Comment

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