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Travel to the Lost Daughter of Venice with Charlotte Betts

  • Submitted: 11th July 2023

Travel to the Lost Daughter of Venice with Charlotte Betts

Very happy to have Charlotte Betts visit BookTrail Towers today!

Travel to the Lost Daughter of Venice with Charlotte Betts

The slaughter of men during the Great War left two million ‘surplus’ women. Two of my great aunts were WWI widows. Fiercely independent with interesting careers instead of husbands, they are the inspiration for my latest book. The Lost Daughter of Venice tells the story of a young widow who must make a new life when the traditional role of marriage and motherhood was lost to her.

Charlotte Betts

Charlotte Betts

I located the story in Venice because the faded grandeur of the architecture and the sense of decay reflects my heroine’s mood and because a widow deserves a fresh start in one of the most romantic cities in the world.

Come to Venice. Please, Phoebe, do not fail me!

In November 1919, Phoebe Wyndham reluctantly takes the steam train across the causeway from the Italian mainland towards Venice. Seventeen years before, she’d left Venice under a cloud, vowing never to return. The sky and the Lagoon are equally grey and silhouettes of low-lying islands, no more than dark humps in the fog, appear like semi-submerged sea creatures. Now and again a glowing cinder from the engine flies past the window like a shooting star.

The Lost Daughter of Venice BookTrail location map

The Lost Daughter of Venice BookTrail location map

Arriving at the station, she descends the steps to where the waters of the Grand Canal lap the quay. Waiting for the vaporetto, there’s a pervasive odour of decaying fish. The green dome of the church of San Simeone Piccolo on the opposite side of the canal brings it home to her that she’s truly back in Venice.

The Lost Daughter of Venice BookTrail location map

After a night at the Hotel Danieli, Phoebe hires a gondola to take her to her childhood home, the Palazzo degli Angeli. In 1919 a gondola was the most practical way to get around in the City of Water. Today, gondolas are used exclusively by tourists.

Palazzo degli Angeli – a lodging of that name today:

The Lost Daughter of Venice BookTrail location map

When Phoebe discovers she’s inherited her aunt’s palazzo, she’s appalled. She doesn’t want to live in Venice and be reminded of the traumatic events of her past. Hoping to shake off her gloom by taking a walk, she puts on rubber boots since there’s an acqua alta, a high tide that sometimes occurs following a full moon.

The Lost Daughter of Venice BookTrail location map

She remembers how to find the Ponte dell’Accademia and, halfway over the arc of the bridge, leans her elbows on the handrail. The Grand Canal is thronged with gondolas, steamers, fishing boats and barges laden with fruit and vegetables.

The Lost Daughter of Venice BookTrail location map

Heading through the alleys towards the Piazza di San Marco, she’s confounded by a dead end. Retracing her steps, she takes a path alongside a narrow waterway, glad of her boots since the canal has overflowed. The path leads into Campo Santo Stefano, named  after the sizeable brick and tile church at one end. Seawater bubbles up through the drains. A passage from the square leads into a maze of alleyways. She passes La Fenice opera house and arrives at Piazza di San Marco.

The Lost Daughter of Venice BookTrail location map

The Lagoon, a glorious turquoise, borders the open space of the piazza, which is ankle-deep in water. Seagulls scream overhead and men shout instructions as they erect raised walkways before the colonnaded buildings.

The Lost Daughter of Venice BookTrail location map

The two columns of San Marco and San Teodoro mark the original entry point to the city from the Lagoon. The campanile, soaring up towards an azure sky, is perfectly placed as a watchtower for sighting approaching enemies and as a landmark to guide ships into harbour.

Phoebe has a fleeting memory of a blisteringly hot day sitting at a table outside Café Florian, her lips sticky with ice cream, while Uncle Emiliano described Venice’s great trading history. His stories had been so vivid she could almost smell the spices and see the silk merchants.

Now, she watches in delighted awe as golden evening sunshine paints the Byzantine domes of the Basilica apricot and she falls in love with Venice all over again. The sun sets and she splashes across the piazza to return to the palazzo before darkness engulfs the city.

 

Hope you enjoyed this wonderful tour of Venice!

 

BookTrail Boarding Pass: The Lost Daughter of Venice

Twitter:  @CharlotteBetts1

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