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A Stopover in Venice [Hardcover]

Kathryn Walker
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 15.31 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

19 Aug 2008
An enchanting debut novel—a fairy tale of sorts.

The time is the present. The novel opens on a train en route to Verona. A young American woman is on an Italian tour with her famous musician husband. In a moment of fury and despair at their lifeless marriage, she drags down a piece of her luggage and gets off the train in the countryside. Marooned and on her own for the first time in eight years, she returns to Venice, gets a room at the Hotel Gritti Palace, sets out to explore the city, and chances on a group of boys tormenting a small dog, which she rescues and smuggles into the hotel.

The following day she is accosted by a man who claims that the dog belongs to his employer. Reluctantly she follows him to a Gothic palazzo and to the dog’s owner, an elderly contessa. The young woman becomes faint. The contessa insists that she stay the night . . .

What started off as an impulsive act of defiance opens out into an adventure—and a mystery—that summons up centuries of the Venetian past, the discovery of a lost masterpiece, and the heroine’s reclamation of herself.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 305 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group; 1 edition (19 Aug 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307267067
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307267061
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 15.1 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,078,090 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Spoiled for me by lack of punctuation...... 13 Oct 2013
By Casper
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I almost abandoned this book as I found reading it VERY frustrating. I had to keep re-reading large sections of it to establish which character had said what. Not once has the author used quotation/speech marks. I find this very, very strange and it really detracted from the writing and the story. I couldn't find much sympathy for Nel' the main character in the book either. I purchased the book mainly for its' connection to Venice and was disappointed. It could really have been set anywhere, and in my opinion the author wasted a lot of opportunities. I agree with the friend of the previous reviewer, a fairy tale. Wouldn't recommend it at all I'm afraid. I keep all my books with Venice connections, but this one went off to the charity shop. Oh, pretty dust jacket though.
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4.0 out of 5 stars engaging first novel 19 Sep 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I was totally absorbed by this novel (recommended by a friend). It vividly portrays the experience of being in Venice and draws what to me was quite a convincing picture of a failed marriage to a rock star; in parallel, we have an emergent friendship and romance (a bit too easy and perfect, no doubt) and an arresting mystery from centuries ago that had me consulting art history on google, to match pictures to the novelist's descriptions. If my remarks sound a bit more qualified than the stars I am allocating, that is because I passed the book on to a friend who was much less impressed and insisted that the book was 'just a fairy tale'. I guess I like a modern fairy tale!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a glorious adventure! 25 Aug 2008
By LINDSAY LAW - Published on Amazon.com
This is a wonderfully seductive book. The contemporary story delights with mystery, discovery, the entanglements of modern-day marriage and the possibility of release through self-discovery. The historical story is a wonderfully complex maze through the history of Venice, the world of artists, and blessed with a love story that is unbearably touching.
It is refreshing, original, and deeply satisfying.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful! 9 Sep 2008
By Martha H. Saltzman - Published on Amazon.com
I just finished reading this wonderful tale of discovery that takes place in Venice. I will probably read it again after I allow a little time to savor it and let it sink in. The writing is wonderful, the characters are multifaceted and interesting; there is also a delightful little dog and, of course, the beautiful city of Venice. I couldn't put the book down, from the minute Nel steps off a train to Verona and returns alone to Venice... to the end...well, I won't tell you the end. The book is fun, intriguing, interesting and, if you love Italy and Renaissance art, you will find it a total treasure. Never formula, it is as fresh, heady and stimulating as a cup of cafe espresso. Oh, how I wish I was picking it up for the first time all over again!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lovely, But Not Without Its Drawbacks 18 July 2010
By Candelora Versace - Published on Amazon.com
Oh, the useless lives of women married to famous men, how they squander their time and their talents in deference to their more important mates. That is, until they wake up and say, hey, wait a minute, what about me? Such is the trajectory of one Cornelia Everett, 35 years old and married to a popular, charismatic and apparently obsessively self-absorbed musician.

A Stopover in Venice starts with Nel spontaneously pulling her suitcase off the overhead rack from a train bound for Verona and returning to Venice, leaving her husband Antony and his posse to finish their European tour without her.

Author Kathryn Walker in her first novel paints lovely pictures of old Venice, with its legendary light (a softer, watery version of Santa Fe's), its crumbling palazzos and its maddening maze of unmarked city streets and alleyways. And she does a convincing job of evoking the emotional netherworld of a young woman who fell into a particular sort of marriage (the one-sided kind that often comes with fame) before she was fully prepared.

The adventures to be found in a wonderland like Venice for an aimless and uncertain woman armed with her husband's credit card (which to her credit she uses intelligently and sparingly) are just right for a book that strives to hit a notch above the standard woman-in-transition genre.

Through a refreshingly not-improbable series of events, Nel finds herself a guest of a grand old signora in one of the aforementioned old palazzos, at one time used as both a convent and a hospital during the plague years. A young scholar named Matteo and his assistants are busy working on the careful reveal of a mysterious 16th century fresco buried under layers of old plaster in one of the many abandoned rooms, and Nel finds herself drawn in to the project and the mystery of the unknown artist.

The "family" that is created between Nel, Matteo, the Signora and her old housekeeper Annunziata and a couple of other researchers pulled in to help unravel the history of the building and its mysterious fresco gives Nel the sense of community and shared purpose she had missed in her marriage. Their warmth and conviviality convince her to tie up the loose ends she has left behind and leap forward into the unknown armed with a new perspective and possibilities.

A Stopover in Venice is an appealing story, filled with convincing scholarship and fascinating historical detail, but is not without its drawbacks. Walker has chosen a quirky writing style that eliminates quotation marks throughout all the dialogue, rendering this reader often confused between the actual dialogue and Nel's internal asides, frequently inserted without warning. Much of the book has a reportorial feel to it; transitions lack grace and characters seem to be anaylzed rather described. The classic "show, don't tell" mantra of all writing teachers everywhere seems to have been ignored.

Two seconds with Google has produced the information Walker's PR purporsely chose to leave out: she is an ex-wife of singer James Taylor, and this, her first novel, is a roman a clef of her own adventure in Venice when she left him. That answers many questions a reader might have about the nature of the storytelling in this novel.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite novel for 2009 8 Mar 2009
By Sparkleplenty - Published on Amazon.com
I bought this book after reading a review in O Magazine. This is the author's first book. It is beautifully written. It winds together a modern story of a women dealing with the realities of her 8 year marriage with an amazing love story about two 16th centiry painters. I bought an extra copy and have sent both copies off to friends to read. It is a lovely, lovely book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a dream of a book 4 Dec 2008
By Danae M. Falliers - Published on Amazon.com
This is a wonderful tale of a magical chapter in one womans' life. Kathryn Walker's voice evokes mystery, romance, seduction and eternal beauty. Walker manages to tell the tale with a sensitive balance between a hard eye, and a soft heart.

Told with great feeling for her characters and the magic of Venice. Highly recommended as a one-way ticket to a magical place. And love the the little dog too.
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