This site is all about how stories add spice to our ideas and feelings about the cities we love. My favourites have long been London, Venice, and Florence and so I made this site, where I list and review all sorts of novels and films set in these three cities. Each city has indulgent side pages too. These deal with subjects like Venice's cats, London's cakes, and Lost Florence.

I've also been casting my net wider of late and posting reports on my trips to other European cities, as a service to travellers who share my enthusiasm for art, cakes, cats, and ice cream. Fiction features here too. You'll find them listed in the handy Trips Menu

To search within this site using Google, enter your search terms
into the box as usual and then type in

In case you're curious, this is Me


My other sites are...


These sites also have their own Facebook page...
The Friends of Fictional Cities
and the Churches of Venice and Florence

Click on the link and Like the page for regular updates.

Click here to send me an e-mail
All suggestions and flattery gratefully received.


click on the word NEWS
above for more news (with photos!)

click on the titles to read all about them


If my many mentions of House of Secrets - The Many Lives of a Florentine Palazzo by Allison Levy whetted your appetite and you're wondering why no word...I'm glad to report that a copy is finally on its way, after much correspondence. Even better is the news that following one brief email a copy of The Venetian Masquerade by Philip Gwynne Jones fell onto my doormat this morning (see flyleaf snapshot right). Expect a review before the end of next week, as I have just started reading, and been immediately smitten by Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield, which I heartily recommend already.


 In other review (copy) news...House of Secrets (see 4.2.2019 below) is proving hard to get, but the author herself is now onto it. I've requested the new one by Philip Kazan, called The Phoenix of Florence, from his publisher and I'm confident that The Venetian Masquerade by Philip Gwynne Jones will be through the old letterbox comfortably before it's 4th of April publication date. The spring rush - maybe I should save some up for the summer lull!

Wonders never cease, as I'm sure you'll agree. Old fans will remember how regularly I whinge about the publisher Heinemann's resistance to sending me review copies of the Brunetti novels of Donna Leon. The number I've managed to wangle out of them these past 20-odd years is less than the fingers of one hand, of a Simpsons character! But fatalism is not in my nature and so I asked again this week, and this morning a fresh hardback of Unto Us a Son is Given dropped through my letterbox. Amazeballs!
Expect a review next week.

After a fair amount of faff a trip has been booked to fill a tempting gap in my schedule as course terms finish a fair few weeks before Easter this year. First it was going to be Milan, to start a new page on Churches of Venice maybe. This plan was discouraged by discovering that in the week I wanted my hotel of choice was charging 900 a night, with the weeks either side averaging around 200, including the Easter weekend. I still haven't figured out why. So to prevent further mind bogglement I've decided on a week in Siena, to quietly add data and depth to the relatively new Siena pages on Churches of Florence. But before then, I'm off in early March for my first-ever time in Sicily. Sicily then Siena - them old librarianly alphabetical-ordering instincts are still strong.

On the Florence front there's some subtle media fuss about House of Secrets - The Many Lives of a Florentine Palazzo by Allison Levy. It's about Alberti's admirable and handsome Palazzo Rucellai, its history and later role as lodgings for the author.
A review copy has been requested.

 This morning's surprise was a new film of The Aspern Papers, starring Vanessa Redgrave, Joely Richardson and Jonathan Rhys Meyers. IRL VR is JR's mum, of course, and here VR plays JR's aunt. Also JRM was married to JR, when he was Henry VIII and she was Catherine Parr. Oh FGS! Expect a review soon.

Buona Epifania! The weekend papers’ book pages have had their previews of 2019, telling us what books we might look forward to. The only Venice-mentioning novel amongst the literary stuff is Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh. Due out in June, it’s the story of Deen, a book dealer whose ‘extraordinary journey...takes him from India to Los Angeles and Venice via a tangled route through the memories and experiences of those he meets along the way.’ Hmm. Due later that month is The Orphan's Song by Lauren Kate, another novel about 18th-century musical orphans, but from the Incurabili this time, as the orphan character here sings rather than plays the violin. The author’s other books have titles like Fallen and Torment and feature windswept women in long frocks with lots of wild hair on their covers.

In April we can expect The Venetian Masquerade by site-fave Philip Gwynne Jones, a far brighter prospect. He also reissues To Venice with Love, his moving-to-Venice memoir, on the 7th of March, the day after my birthday. More of a shocker is the new Brunetti from Donna Leon, Unto Us a Son is Given, coming out not in April, as they always do, but on the 5th of March, the day before my birthday! But out first is The Laws of Time by Andrea Perego, which combines an 18th-century setting with a murder, unfolds in a single day (not my birthday) and features Rosalba Carriera. Could be juicy, it's out tomorrow.

The pickings for Florence-fiction fans are even slimmer, so far. Aside from the new one by Philip Kazan, called The Phoenix of Florence, in February, late May sees Lent by fantasy author Jo Walton, which seems to be a fantastic take on the life of Savonarola.

more news here

March 2019
Philip Gwynne Jones The Venetian Masquerade
Sicily Trips
Philip Kazan The Phoenix of Florence

February 2019
Donna Leon Unto Us a Son is Given Venice

January 2019
The Aspern Papers Venice films
Andrea Perego The Laws of Time Venice

December 2018
Graham Greene The Ministry of Fear London

October 2018
Milan Trips
John Ruskin Mornings in Florence

September 2018
Lives of Giovanni Bellini
Florence and Arezzo

August 2018
Marco Vichi Death in the Tuscan Hills

June & July 2018
Leeds and York Trips
Nancy Trips

April & May 2018

Claudia Caramanna et al Paintings from Murano by
Paolo Veronese
Tristan Palmgren Quietus Florence

March 2018
Donna Leon The Temptation of Forgiveness Venice
Philip Gwynne Jones Vengeance in Venice
Roberto Tiraboschi The Eye Stone Venice
Siena Trips

February 2018
Gregory Dowling The Four Horsemen Venice
Imogen Hermes Gowar The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock London
Lincoln Short trips


Venice // Florence // London // Berlin

Copyright © Jeff Cotton 1998-2019
Twenty-one years? Blimey!