This site is all about how stories add to and spice up our mental maps of the cities we love. Mine are 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 sharing my reports on my trips to European cities, mostly, as a service to travellers who share my enthusiasms, 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.

In case you're curious, this is Me, these are my
cats Oscar & Peter and my other sites are...

The Churches of Venice  

The Churches of Florence  

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.

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

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

click on the titles to read all about them

Keep it to yourself but I've managed to download an unofficially subtitled version of the German Brunetti TV series episode from 2015 - 21. Beastly Things. The subtitles look a bit machine-translated, with a tendency to nonsense, but it looks pretty watchable. I'll do so and report back.

Siena & Pisa


I've not hitherto read anything by Martin Cruz Smith but I have heard of him, and novels set in Venice (and Florence) by authors you've heard of come but once a year, on average. The Girl from Venice is published on the 18th of  October. Another familiar name is Brandreth as Gyles Brandreth was an annoying 'celebrity' with a misspelled name way back before reality TV and such phenomena supplied us steaming piles of them. (He wrote a novel set in Venice too, which I've never been able to bring myself to read.) So the fact that The Spy of Venice: A William Shakespeare novel is by one Benet Brandreth pits memories of Gyles and his annoying jumpers against the fact that it's well reviewed. Benet's own website tactfully doesn't mention that Giles is his dad, for so I find to be the case, on the Daily Telegraph website, of course. I intend to read and review both, but admit that such promises from me have rung a bit hollow lately.


Way back in 2010 I started The Venice Questions, a page where authors were interviewed about their (usually new) books and answered questions about what Venice meant to them. It was meant to ingratiate myself and my site with publishers but became a bit too much faff for the fun. I mention this because Hallie Rubenhold, the last subject grilled, has a new book out, called French Lessons. It's the sequel to Mistress of my Fate and moves Henrietta Lightfoot's fraught life to Brussels, briefly, and Paris. I'm enjoying it at the moment and you can expect a review soon. I'll be dusting off my Related Works page to accommodate it, as it comes between her London and Venice-based adventures. The author's Lady Worsley's Whim was filmed by the BBC in 2015 as The Scandalous Lady W and stared Natalie Dormer, of Game of Thrones fame. This raised Hallie's profile even more than appearing on this site, and may explain why the new book's cover comes with recommendations by telly history types like Simon Sebag Montifiore and Lucy Worsley rather than mine.

It's always good to hear from authors, and Stephanie Storey has been in touch this week regarding my difficulty (as I reported back in February) with getting a review read of her novel about Leonardo and Michelangelo called Oil and Marble. I had since acquired a copy, as it happens, through a sequence of events, emails and dubious downloads I'd decided not to torture you with the telling of. Anyway, expect a review in the not too distant.

more news here


September 2016
Michael Hughes The Countenance Divine London
Henry Eliot and Matt Lloyd-Rose Curiocity: In Pursuit of London

August 2016
Hallie Rubenhold The French Lesson Related works

July 2016
Dan Vyleta Smoke London

June 2016
Martin Seay The Mirror Thief Venice

April 2016
 Janet Todd A Man of Genius Venice
Sheila Hale Titian: his Life and the Golden Age of Venice
Marie-Jose Gransard Venice: A Literary Guide for Travellers

March 2016
Donna Leon The Waters of Eternal Youth Venice
V. E. Schwab A Darker Shade of Magic

February 2016
Claire North The Serpent: Gameshouse 1 Venice

January 2016
Genevieve Cogman The Masked City Venice
Gregory Dowling Ascension Venice
Dove vai in vacanza? Venice films

December 2015
Nudo di Donna Venice films
Anne Charnock Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind Florence
The Anonymous Venetian Venice films
Cronaca Familiare and
ach di Poveri Amanti Florence films
Penelope Fitzgerald Innocence Florence
Ross King and Anja Grebe Florence: The Paintings &
Frescoes, 1250-1743

November 2015
Len Deighton Funeral in Berlin

October 2015
Joseph Kanon Leaving Berlin
Jamie Manners The Seven Noses of Soho

September 2015
Philip Kazan The Painter of Souls Florence
Simon Raven Brother Cain Venice

August 2015
Jonathan Holt The Carnivia Trilogy: 2. The Abduction

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Venice // Florence // London // Berlin

Copyright Jeff Cotton 1998-2016