This is not a site about imaginary cities, it's a site about how our reading affects our ideas of real cities and then mixes with
our memories to create our mental maps. We all have
places we love, and like to read novels and watch
films about them. I love London, Venice, and
 Florence and so I made this site, dealing
 with all sorts of stories set in
these three cities.

Each city now has a few indulgent side pages too. These deal with subjects like Venice's cats, London's cakes, and Lost Florence.
I've also been writing trip reports as a service to travellers
who share my enthusiasm for cakes, ice cream and art.
You'll find them listed on the handy
Trips Menu.

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All suggestions and flattery gratefully received.


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Blimey, he's never at home!
Jeff in Florence


Reading the novella by Somerset Maugham I've just reviewed set me to pondering the relative numbers of novels set in Florence and Venice written by big-name 'literary' authors. Venice clocks up 21: Balzac, Brodkey, Wilkie Collins, Coover, D'Annunzio, DuMaurier, Geoff Dyer, L.P. Hartley, Patricia Highsmith, Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian McEwan,
Thomas Mann, Anthony Powell, Proust, Rolfe, Lisa St Aubin de Terán, George Sand, Schiller, Vikram Seth, Muriel Spark, and Barry Unsworth. But Florence also manages a reputable 8, from a much shorter list: Boccaccio, Congreve, Dante, George Eliot, E.M.Forster, W. Somerset Maugham, Pratolini, and Rushdie. (Henry James, Michael Dibdin, and Sarah Dunant are not counted as the have novels set in both cities.) And yes I know that my choice is partial and full of value judgements!

 I just did one of my periodic searches on Amazon for new Florence- and Venice-set fiction and there's really nothing exciting on the horizon. A few more books giving the impression that a good majority of visitors to these cities are women with boring names looking to be tied up and spanked by tall dark men with seductive scowls and aristocratic backgrounds, but not much else. Except it seems that Michelle Lovric has another book for Y.A.s set in Venice out next August, called The Hotel of What You Want. But confusingly it already has almost twenty review quotes up. Presumably they are for her previous books, but it doesn't say so and the quotes cunningly contain no mention of events or characters. Very odd.

Jeff in Verona

Much reading pleasure is being got from working through the new novels from  the first four authors I mentioned on 10.8. The final few names on the list have their juicy new books published later in October or early in November. I've also spent the summer watching blu-rays of Twin Peaks. Not a whole lotta reviewing or writing going on, consequently, but a week on Sunday I'm off to Verona, to go see their version of the Veronese exhibition, wander around churches, eat ice cream - you know the scenario.

None of the novels mentioned below have plotly connections with this site, not even the Ali Smith, the blurb for which says that it's half about a renaissance artist of the 1460s and is written in a way imitating the technique of fresco-painting, whatever that may mean, and so looked promising. I've just read that the inspirational fresco in question is in Ferrara. Whilst I am booked on a trip to have look at it next Spring, that doesn't qualify it for review here, I think. I have just discovered Inamorata by Megan Chance, which is set in Venice but is reported to contain much of the supernatural, the erotic and incest, so I'm not hopeful of excellence.

So many big-name novels coming out this autumn! Just sticking to the ones I'm looking forward to the list is long - Haruki Murakami, Sarah Waters, Ali Smith, David Mitchell, Jeff Vandermeer, Colm Tóibín, Michel Faber, William Gibson and Peter Carey.

more news here

ber 2014
W. Somerset Maugham Up at the villa Florence
Venice films
David Nicholls Us
Helen Cox Fading Ads of London
September 2014
Ravaged: Art and Culture in Times of Conflict
August 2014
Anthony Powell Temporary Kings Venice
Lauro Martines An Italian Renaissance Sextet:
Six Tales in Historical Context
Architectural Guide - Venice Buildings and Projects After 1950
Alex Preston In Love and War
July 2014
The Image of Venice: Fialetti's View & Sir Henry Wotton Venice
Georges Rodenbach Bruges-la-Morte
Christobel Kent The Killing Room
Laura Morelli The Gondola Maker
Graham McKenzie A Florentine Influence Florence
Terence Morgan The Master of Bruges
June 2014
Giulia Foscari Elements of Venice Venice
Heather Redding  Stealing Venice
Antonia Hodgson The Devil in the Marshalsea London
Philip Kazan Appetite Florence
Marco Vichi Death in Florence Florence
La Venexiana Venice films
Donna Leon By its Cover Venice
March 2014
Richard Skinner The Mirror Venice
February 2014
Doctor Who - The Vampires of Venice Venice TV
January 2014
Thomas Coryate Most Glorious & Peerless Venice
Donna Leon My Venice and other essays
December 2013
Light in the Piazza Florence films
Tony Ballantyne Dream London London
Lucy Hughes-Hallett The Pike Venice
McCann Ace, King, Knave London
November 2013
Elizabeth Spencer The Light in the Piazza Florence
Roberta Rich The Harem Midwife Related works
Christopher Jones White Phantom City Venice
September 2013
Tom Brown Strange Air London
Venetian bird Venice films
Ellis Peters Holiday with Violence Venice


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Venice // Florence // London // Berlin

Copyright © Jeff Cotton 1998-2014