Updated the first week of the month.


May 2013

The Fate in the Box is published by Orion Children’s Books on May 2nd.

There are some brand-new web pages on this site for the book.

The web pages introduce the story and themes of the book, the major characters and the legends and history of Venice that inspired the tale, including the Venetian superstitions about seahorses, the great floating festival of the Redentore and the strolling lady water-sellers who wore top hats to stand out from the crowds. It takes on the themes of work and the exploitation of workers, thoughtlessness and thoughtfulness, and friendships between children from different worlds.

There’s also a new page about events.

Linda Lawlor at the Bookbag writes about The Fate in the Box: ‘This delightful book will lead the reader on a break-neck emotional ride, from nail-biting fear and disgust to sympathy and laughter.’

You can read the whole review here.

Some bookshops will feature window displays about the book, including crocodiles, large insects, white parasols, masks and blood-stained white gloves …

Meanwhile Oscar De Muriel has posted a review and an interview with Michelle, as well as ‘Congruent’, an original poem about researching The Book of Human Skin.

Michelle is part of the Venezia Città di Lettori campaign to save the city’s bookshops. The story has been taken up by The Bookseller and Bookwitch, among others. 


Michelle will be a guest speaker at the Around the World in 80 Books Readers’ Day in Chelmsford, Essex on June 29th.

Here’s a preview interview. 

More about the event:

Kate Mosse’s France, 
Michelle Lovric’s Venice, 
Ann Morgan’s Year of Reading the World and much, much more ...
Around the World in 80 Books Readers’ Day

Anglia Ruskin University, Lord Ashcroft Building, Bishop Hall Lane. Chelmsford, Essex CM1 1SQ. Saturday 29th June 2013, 9.30am – 4.30pm Tickets £15/ £12 concessions (tea and coffee included in price) Tel: 01206 573948

 A feast of exciting reading with some of the very best in world writing run by Oxygen Books in association with the Essex Book Festival, the Arts Council and Anglia Ruskin University.

New writing

Michelle posted a piece at The History Girls on April 10th about the campaign to save bookshops in Venice. If you would like to join the Facebook page for Venice, City of Readers, the link is here.

She has written the May diary piece for English Writers in Italy.

She’ll be posting on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure on May 5th.

Her next History Girls blog will be on May 10th.

And watch out for an interview with Bookwitch coming soon, in which Michelle will reveal the identity of her favourite Swede.


May books

Nuala O'Faolain, My Dream of You
Tess Gallagher, Portable Kisses
Antonio Tabucchi, Sostiene Pereira
E. Temple Thurston, City of Beautiful Nonsense


Peter lahaye

April 2013

The Fate in the Box, Michelle fifth novel for children, will be published on May 2nd.

The Cat that Walks by Herself has some very interesting things to say about The Book of Human Skin.

There’s a new trailer for the American edition of The Undrowned Child here.

Venetian writers and writers about Venice are combining to protest against the closure of the historic Goldoni Bookshop in the Calle dei Fabbri near Rialto, the latest in an epidemic of bookshop closures in a city that was the birthplace of printing in Italy. More on this in the May update.

VeVenice-based artist Peter Delahaye has a new show, Muraria, opening on Friday April 5th in Campo Sant’Angelo (San Marco 3578) and continuing until the 14th. Works by Bruno Bagetto and Marino Ficotto are also featured. Some of Peter Delahaye’s paintings can be seen herea> and here.

New writing

Michelle posted a piece on the Natural History Museum in Venice as a resource for The Fate in the Box on The History Girls blog on March 10th.

Her next History Girls blog will appear on April 10th. 


April books

Marie-Louise Jensen, SmSmuggler’s Kiss
Renato Pestriniero, REPORT. Venezia sull'orizzonte degli eventi 
Renato Pestriniero, Venezia e l'arte nascosta
Chris Cleave, Gold
Renato Pestriniero, L’osella misteriosa del Doge Grimani
Mariagrazia Dammico, Guida ai Giardini di Venezia
Giacomo Casanova, History of My Life, Vol 1 

Artwork by Deirdre  Kellyspan>

March 2013

There’s a new video review of How to Abuse, Insult and Insinuate in Classical Latin.

A sale of clothes and accessories for members of the Clink Street Writers’ Group, The History Girls and others raised more than £1200 for the By Grace Centre in Nairobi.

Venice-based artist Deirdre Kelly has a London show at the Alba Restaurant in Whitecross Street. Her beautiful collages show impossible landscapes, routes and directions in ‘altered’ maps that are certainly not to be used for navigation.

Alba Restaurant
107 Whitecross Street, London EC1Y 8JH
From: March 5th 2013


New writing

Michelle posted a piece on The History Girls on February 10th about a visitor who has overstayed his welcome in Venice. Her next History Girls blog will on March 10th.


March books

Musée du Quai Branly, Cheveux Chéris, Frivolités et trophées
C. Willet and Phillis Cunnington, The History of Underclothes
Jonas Jonasson, The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared
Sally Gardner, The Double Shadow
Jennifer Connelly, Revolution

February 2013

New writing

Michelle posted a blog about another kind of Venice on the History Girls website on January 10th.

Her next posting there will be on February 10th.

February books

Règis Debray, Against Venice
Imogen Robertson, Circle of Shadows
Ed Martina Bagnoli et al, Treasures of Heaven, saints, relics and devotion in Mediaeval Europe.



January 2013

 Lovric has some of the best children’s writing out there,’ according to Samantha Ellen on the Book Grotto website, reviewing Talina in the Tower on December 18th. For the full review, see here.

Michelle’s fourth book for young readers, The Fate in the Box, will be published by Orion Children’s Books on May 2nd. It’s a magical story about a friendship between two Venetian girls – one rich, one poor – Primaeval Crocodiles in the Grand Canal, a museum full of murdered animals, and a society dangerously obsessed with automata.


The Remedy is published in Russian this month by Family Circle publishers.

And here’s a new review for The Book of Human Skin.


New writing

Michelle posted a blog about what she’d love to find in her Christmas stocking on December 10th on the History Girls website.

Her next History Girls blog is scheduled for January 10th.


January books

Nick Green, Cat’s Cradle (read a well-deserved wonderful review of the third book in the Cat Kin trilogy here)
Tan Twan Eng, The Garden of Evening Mists
Diana Wynne Jones, Howl’s Moving Castle
Emma Tenant, Felony
Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita



December 2012

(Please note that the January news will be posted a few days later than usual.)


There’s a new review for Talina in the Tower on the Carousel website here

and a summary of all the main reviews of the book here.


 New writing

Michelle posted a poem about a visit to a plague island – on the History Girls website for October 10th.

Due to a broken ankle, she could not post on November 10th but instead there’s a splendid explanation of the Royal Literary Fund by fellow Fellow Susan Price.

Michelle’s next History Girls blog will be on December 10th.


December books

Tash Aw, The Harmony Silk Factory
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Half of a Yellow Sun
Alison Moore, The Lighthouse
Lundy Bancroft, Why Does He Do That?
Deborah Levy, Swimming Home
Thom Gunn, The Man with Night Sweats







October 2012

Michelle Lovric’s next book for children, The Fate in the Box, set in a magical 18th-century Venice, will be published by Orion in May 2013.


New writing

Michelle posted about a dreadful guiding experience on The History Girls website on August 10th

… and about an art-historical approach to foul language on September 10th

 … and a poem about a visit to a plague island on October 10th.

 Her next History Girls blog will be on November 10th.


October books

Karen Maitland, The Owl Killers
Hilary Mantel, Bringing Up the Bodies
Andrew Miller, Pure






Portrait of Michelle by Miko Sinkovic

August 2012

There’s a delightful new review for The Undrowned Child by Bonnie at Bookish Ardour.

Turkish rights to The Undrowned Child and The Mourning Emporium have been sold to Artemis Yayinlari.

 The Book of Human Skin has sold nearly 36,000 copies in Russia, where it is published by the Family Leisure Club.


New writing

Michelle posted a blog about where she finds names for the characters in her historical fiction on the History Girls on June 10th.

On July 10th, she posted a blog about Giuseppe Tassini.

Her next blog for the History Girls will be on August 10th.


August books

Colum McCann, Zoli
Madeline Miller, Song of Achilles
Grace McCleen, The Land of Decoration
Judith Flanders, The Victorian House
Danielle Trussoni, Angelology
Jane Barlow, By Beach and Bogland
Immediations,The Courtauld Institute of Art Journal of Postgraduate Research
Harrods 1895 Catalogue: Victorian Shopping
Imogen Robertson, Island of Bones
Imogen Robertson, Anatomy of Murder
Anne Patchett, Run



June 2012

Michelle has a story called ‘Pantegana’ in the new anthology Venice Noir, published by Akashik Books this month. Other contributors include fellow History Girl Mary Hoffman, Peter James and Maxim Jakubowski, who also edited the volume.

Talina in the Tower receives another lovely review at the Historical Novel Society’s website. The review raises an interesting question about what constitutes historical and if it should be separated from fantasy:

I thought for a long time about whether this book could be called an historical novel or not. It certainly has fairy-tale and magical elements which argue against it. On the other hand, it is obvious that Michelle Lovric has done her homework; the novel is set in a very real, precisely dated Venice, whose sights, sounds and smells come across with wonderful clarity. It is also more than just a tale of magic. This is a story of human greed, evil-doing, repentance, forgiveness and redemption which resonates long after you’ve finished reading. It concerns exploitation (the Ravageurs were paid for their land with a few cheap trinkets and sweets); imperialism (the Venetians feel themselves to be superior and look down on nearby Rovigo); and human rights (the female Ravageurs are kept in a state of subservience and ignorance), all of which are still relevant today.


New writing

Michelle posted a piece on The History Girls on May 29th about Venice Noir, plumbers and rats.

Her usual spot on the 10th of the month was, excitingly, occupied by Hilary Mantel, answering question from Leslie Wilson and Mary Hoffman about her new book, Bringing up the Bodies, on its publication day.

Michelle next History Girls post will be on June 10th.

Every Sunday in June, Michelle will be curating blogs by booksellers at An Awfully Big Blog Adventure. In the series, the booksellers explain their personal histories and their view of the market for children’s books.


Writing news

The Writer’s Exchange

The Writer’s Exchange has been created in response to a huge demand for the sharing of knowledge and expertise in the vast and exciting area of children’s fiction.  Offering three-day residential retreats in the heart of the Kent countryside and featuring talks from bestselling authors and industry experts as well as one-to-one tutorials, the workshops are interspersed with independent writing sessions in peaceful and beautiful surroundings. Children’s bookseller and author Tamara Macfarlane and children’s author and editor Ellie Wharton will be on hand to offer advice whether you are putting pen to paper for the first time or fine-tuning a piece for submission. For more information please contact

June books

Laurie Graham’s new novel, A Humble Companion, is published by Quercus on June 7th. Read more about it here. STOP PRESS! Laurie Graham is joining The History Girls and will be blogging on the site every month from August.

Jane Barlow, A Creel of Irish Stories
John B. Keane, The Field
Mrs Alfred Gatty, The Old Folks from Home, or, a Holiday in Ireland in 1861
J.L. Bradley, A Ruskin Chronology
Seamus Heaney, Sweeney Astray
Sean O’Casey, The Shadow of a Gunman, June and the Paycock, The Plough and the Stars
Rose La Touche, Clouds and Light, 1870
Simon Mawer, The Girl Who Fell from the Sky
Van Akin Burd, John Ruskin and Rose La Touche, Her Unpublished Diaries of 1861 and 1867
Margaret Ferrier Young (ed), The Letters of a Noble Woman (Mrs La Touche of Harristown)
M Banin, Tales by the O’Hara Family, 1825
J. Grant, Impressions of Ireland and the Irish, 1844
Martin McDonagh, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, A Skull in Connemara, The Lonesome West
Italo Zannier, Venezia 1891–-2001
Luciano Filippi, Vecchie Immagini di Venezia, vols 1–3


May 2012

There’s a nice new review for Talina in the Tower on the Historical Novel Review site and a story starter on Armadillo.


New writing

Michelle posted a piece on The History Girls on April 10th about the wicked goings-on in San Samuele, Venice. Her next History Girls blog will on May 10thth.


May books

Dion Boucicault, Selected Plays
Sean O’Casey, Three Dublin Plays
Russell James, Victorian Artists and Their Models
Wilkie Collins, Armadale
Mrs Gaskell, Ruth
William Morris, The Defence of Guenevere
Enda Walsh, Misterman





April 2012

Talina in the Tower continues to get amazingly nice mentions.

Darren Hartwell at the Bookzone for Boys website was very kind!

Patrica Guy found Talina nicely gory.

Sarah at My Favourite Book wasn't expecting the book to be so funny, so full of horror and to be so innovative.


Publishing news

Yoga & Writing Week
June 4th – 9th
Moniack Mhor Writers’ Centre
In the Highlands of Scotland, 12 miles from Inverness,
Clink Street Writers Group member Annabel Chown joins Rosemary Bailey to teach this course.

Discover your own source of inspiration – your own 'well within' – by using yoga as a tool to focus the mind. Whatever you write –from personal memoir to fiction – yoga can help you explore your own creative depths. Daily workshops and one-to-one sessions with writing tutor and author Rosemary Bailey and yoga teacher Annabel Chown will help you find your own voice. Beginners welcome.

Rosemary Bailey is an award-winning writer. Her book Scarlet Ribbons describes her brother’s death from AIDS. Her memoirs about France include Life in a Postcard, The Man who Married a Mountain, and Love and War in the Pyrenees. She is a regular Arvon tutor and a Fellow of the Royal Literary Fund. She has been practising yoga for many years, 'I find yoga a wonderful way to calm my mind and help me focus more deeply.'

Annabel Chown is a yoga teacher, writer and architect. She teaches yoga a leading yoga studios in London; her classes include asana (postures), pranayama (breathwork) and meditation, and aim to cultivate groundedness, vitality and a quieter mind. 'It is here, as writers, we can uncover our creativity and authentic voice.'

 Maximum 12 students in single rooms

Cost: £500 including delicious vegetarian cooking

To book

Tel 01463 741675

New writing

Michelle posted a piece about drinking hot chocolate at the historic Caffè Florian in Venice on The History Girls on March 10th.

Her next History Girls blog will on April 10thth.

On Liveotherwise. Michelle Lovric answered some interesting questions from Jax Blunt and her daughter “Big” about writing for a younger audience and the strange places research takes her.

And the final instalment of the Talina in the Tower Blog Tour has appeared on The Bookbag.


April books

Rebecca Baillie et al, Braided Together, Hair in the Work of Contemporary Women Artists
Anthony Butler, The Book of Blarney
Glenn Hooper, ed, The Tourist’s Gaze, Travellers to Ireland 1800 – 2000
Colin Clair, Human Curiosities
Alfred Perceval Graves, ed, The Irish Fairy Book
Chris Lawlor, An Irish Village – Dunlavin Country Wicklow
W.W. Barry, A Walking Tour Round Ireland in 1865
Robert Dunlop, Plantation of Renown, The story of the La Touche family of Harristown and the Baptist Church at Brannockstown in County Kildare
P. O’Farrell, A History of County Kildare
Claudia Kinmonth, Irish Rural Interiors in Art
Patrick Galvin, The Raggy Boy Trilogy
Nellie O’Cleirigh, Hardship & High Living Irish women’s lives 1808–1923
Andrew Hughes, Lives Less Ordinary, Dublin’s 
Fitzwilliam Square
Laurence Flanagan, Irish Proverbs 

Tales on Moon Lane’s Talina in the Tower window display



March 2012

More attention for Talina in the Tower:

Mia Quraishi Nash at gave it five stars out of five and Bookwitch Ann Giles took a fancy to Talina’s Thaumaturgic Tea Towels.

Gareth Wilson at the Falcata Times enjoyed the sense of whimsy, while Cheryl Pasquier at Madhouse Family Reviews liked the 'coven-ready witches'.

Beth Kemp at Thoughts from the Hearthfire was 'enveloped in a cocoon of magic' when reading Talina. J.E. Towey didn’t think she’s enjoyed reading something so much for ages.

Vivienne Dacosta at Serendipity Reviews thought Talina was 'one of the strongest female characters I have read since finishing meeting Katniss in The Hunger Games'.

Rhiannon Ryder at Diary of a Bookworm made the very wise observation that Talina is not the kind of child you’d want to babysit.

Italia Magazine was enthusiastic about the depiction of Venice in Talina: 'This fantastical tale not only offers a richly detailed historical view of Venice, but also provides a vividly imaginative take on the city (an interesting section at the back gives an account of what is true and what is not – it is a great insight into Venetian history and legend). Imbued with magic, mystery and a rip-roaring plot, this book is a gripping read for older children, with lyrical and compelling prose, and a depiction of a fantasy Venice that is both evocative and beautiful.'


There’s a new review of The Book of Human Skin by the writer Gillian Philip on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure.

The Book of Human Skin topped the Kindle bestseller charts in February, when it was chosen as a deal-of-the-day.


New writing

Talina in the Tower blog tour

On Bookwitch, Michelle wrote about solving problems of character development in young protagonists without flattening the excitement.

On An Awfully Big Blog Adventure, she mused about what children can own in this world.

On Book Maven, she wrote about vultures in Venice, a provocative perfume called Musc Ravageur and the coincidences that frequently befall her during the research process.

On Words Unlimited, she talked about egrets, reading habits and the art of blogging with fellow writer Pam Johnson.

On ReadingZone, she wrote about the writer’s desire and duty to 'love and sing the city', an idea inspired by Joseph Brodsky’s memorial in Venice.

On Wondrous Reads, she worried about how we recreate and redefine animal nature in children’s books.

On The History Girls, she fantasized about bringing out your dead, in the sense of reviving old writers and twinning new books with old ones.

On The Virtual Victorian, she posted a picture essay about things she’d miss if she didn’t write historical fiction.

On JE Towey, she wrote about her (literary) passion for the Venetian historian, Giuseppe Tassini, who is a character in Talina in the Tower.

On Tatty’s Treasure Chest, she supplied a musical playlist for Talina, Ambrogio, Altopone the Rat and other characters.

On Mr Ripley’s Enchanted Books, she was jealous of children’s enviable facility with the miraculous.

On Girls Heart Book, Talina Molin exchanged letters with Rhianna Pendragon, heroine of Katherine Robert’s exciting new series about the daughter of King Arthur.

On Serendipity Reviews, Michelle Lovric wrote about a dead darling: a character who had to be 'killed off' in Talina in the Tower, and the very good reasons for doing away with him.

On Cornflower Books, she wrote about the transformative powers of illness in children’s books and author’s lives, particularly her own. She also revealed the one thing she wouldn’t do for children’s publishing.


March books

Marie Louise Jensen, The Girl in the Mask
Dan Rhodes, Anthropology
W. Gordon Stables, CATS, Their Points and Classification
John Scotney, Culture Smart Ireland
Terisio Pignatti, Pietro Longhi
Georgina Harding, The Spy Game
Liz Kessler, A Year without Autumn
William Dean Howells, Venetian Life
Tracy Chevalier, Falling Angels 
Edna O’Brien, The Country Girls trilogy
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Thing Around Your Neck
Charles Lever, Dodd Family Abroad
H.V. Morton, A Traveller in Italy


February 2012

Michelle was named as one of the ‘queens of historical fiction’ in the Guardian. Click here to read more.

The Mourning Emporium was picked as one of the best-written titles of 2011, with one of the best jackets too, by Samantha-Ellen at Book Grotto.

Talina in the Tower is published on February 2nd, with a month-long blog tour and window displays in selected bookshops.

Meanwhile, Talina has been noticed at Bookzone for Boys and at The Bookbag.

The new Talina website pages are up on the children’s book section of this site though they are still being fine-tuned. (Also, to view the pages correctly, you may need to download and Google Chrome – apologies!)

These beautiful bookmarks have been made by Orion Children’s Books for the launch of Talina in the Tower. The first three people to email this site will be sent one (, replacing the AT with an @ – sorry for complication, but it helps prevents spamming).


Venice news

A birds’ eye view of Venice: click here to see some amazing footage of common cranes flying over Venice.


New writing

Michelle posted a blog about bell-towers in London and Venice on the History Girls website on January 10th, and a blog about what children can own on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure.

She’s also written a diary piece about the difficulty of finding something as simple and crucial as a pen in Venice, for English Writers in Italy.

See the blog tour logo above for other pieces.


February books

Theresa Breslin, A Homecoming for Kezzie
Katherine Roberts, Sword of Light
Michael Arditti, A Sea Change



January 2012

Talina in the Tower will be published by Orion Children’s Books on February 2nd. There will be a blog tour during January and February, with posts about the research into and thinking behind Talina in the Tower, with blogs about towers, music, research discoveries and Venice appearing on The History Girls, An Awfully Big Blog Adventure, Words Unlimited, Girls Heart Books, Bookzone for Boys and many other places. See February News to catch up with all the links.

Watch out for Talina window displays in selected UK bookshops including the award-winning Tales on Moon Lane. Meanwhile, new Talina website pages should be appearing on the children’s book section of this site during January, though they are still in development. (Also, to view the pages correctly, you may need to download and Google Chrome – apologies!) More news on the Talina webpages in the February update.

A beautiful Talina in the Tower bookmark is also in production.

There’s an in-depth review of The Book of Human Skin here.

Diary dates

It’s panto time in Venice again. Bookings are now open for the English pantomime Sleeping Beauty, scripted by the acclaimed novelist, Laurie Graham. With extravagant costumes, great music and audience participation, Sleeping Beauty is designed to delight both children and adults, whether they speak English or not. All performances are free to the public. The organizers do, however, collect donations from the audience to benefit the LWT4KIDS Orphanage in Ponmar, India.

Performances will be held at the Teatro a l'Avogaria, Dorsoduro 1617, Venice at the following times:

Thursday, January 12th at 10:00 am
Thursday, January 12th at 7:30 pm
Friday, January 13th at 7:30 pm
Saturday, January 14th at 3:30 pm
To book, please send an email to stating the date and time of the performance desired and the number of seats requested. You will receive a confirmation email with directions. People without email, or who need further information, may leave a message at 348 5150212, and they will be called back.


New writing

Michelle posted a blog about her various writing crimes over a weekend in Venice, on December 10th at the History Girls website.

Her next History Girls blog is scheduled for January 10th. It’s about living and working in bell-towers in Venice and London.


January books

David Rosand, Myths of Venice
Lionello Venturi, Le Compagnie della Calza
La Bibbia dei Poveri Diavoli
Theresa Breslin, Kezzie
Chris Ewan, The Good Thief’s Guide to Venice
Barbara Mitchelhill, Run Rabbit Run
India Knight, Comfort and Joy
Michael Levey, Painting in Eighteenth-Century Venice




December 2011

 (Please note that the January news will be posted a few days later than usual.)


The Family Leisure Club’s Russian edition of The Book of Human Skin is published this month.

The Turkish rights for The Book of Human Skin have been sold to Ithaki Publishers.


There’s a new American review for The Undrowned Child here.

 …and a nice one on the Booktrust website for The Mourning Emporium.


New writing

Michelle posted ‘A Pig Called Uncle’ – about an obscure Albanian proverb – on the History Girls website for November 10th.

She’s posted a wonderful new blog by Katie Clapham in the Bookseller Sundays series on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure.

Her next History Girls blog will be on December 10th.


December books

Deborah Howard, Venice Disputed
Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games
J.C. Cooper, An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols
Felicitas H. Nelson, Talismans and Amulets
Leonard de Vries, Victorian Inventions
Stephen Kelman, Pigeon English
Chris Cleave, Little Bee
Penny Dolan, A Boy Called M.O.U.S.E
G. Marangon, Le Associazioni di mestiere nella Repubblica Veneta
Alphonse Daudet, Tartarin of Tarascon
Isidoro Gatti, Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari, Storia di una presenza 
francescana a Venezia


John Newman of the Newham Bookshop
on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure



November 2011


There’s an interesting review of The Book of Human Skin here and another here  … and a fabulous one by ‘The Lady of Shalott’ at Snarkfest, with a very clever metaphor extended till it is almost out of breath – but still alive and kicking:

It's like a fairy tale and an adventure story had a baby, raised it totally on historical fiction, then dressed it in satin and silk and fed it wine and good Italian coffee.


There’s a new American review for The Undrowned Child here on ALAN Online and another one here at Where the Best Books Are … and also a very nice one on the Barnes & Noble USA site. It concludes like this:

If you loved Cornelia Funke's The Thief Lord then you will devour The Undrowned Child.  A bit creepy and some parts will scare the living daylights out of younger readers but the history of Venice with all its quirks will enchant readers, both children and adults.  This is the Percy Jackson of Italy!

There’s also an Australian review on Inside a Dog.


New writing

Michelle contributed a post, In Praise of Dirty Books, to the History Girls blog on October 10th. Her next post on that blog is on November 10th.

John Newman of the Newham Bookshop on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure

Meanwhile, on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure, she’s been curating a series of guest blogs by booksellers: BOOKSELLER SUNDAYS. Here are the links to the blogs by Tamara Macfarlane, John Newman, Elaine Penrose and Leila Rasheed. There will be more BOOKSELLER SUNDAYS in 2012.


November books

Susanne Ehrhardt, Rumpelstiltskin’s Price 
Kurt Romer, Nothing but Fear 
Siri Hustvedt, The Summer without Men
A.D. Miller, Snowdrops
Patrick deWitt, The Sisters Brothers
Marion Miliband (ed), The Observer of the 19th Century
Russell James, Victorian Artists and Their Models
William Carleton, The Black Prophet





October 2011

Michelle’s third novel for young readers, Talina in the Tower, will be published by Orion Children’s Books on February 2nd, 2011. Here’s a preview of the cover created by Laura Brett, who also gave The Undrowned Child and The Mourning Emporium their distinctive looks.

And the story?

Magic is attracted to Talina, and Talina is attracted to magic, with startling results. When, in the dead of night, terrifying creatures start to prowl the waterways of Venice snatching men and women, not to mention children, cats and rats, Talina knows desperate measures are needed. But before she can do anything, her parents disappear and she and her loyal cat, Drusilla, are forced to live with her sinister Guardian in his gaunt and lonely twittering tower on the northernmost edge of the city. It’s here that her adventure begins . . .


There’s a new and detailed review of The Book of Human Skin on Vulpes Libris, which looks at the book in the context of its social and historical background. There’s also a very interesting discussion on the virtues and setbacks of reading such a long novel in a Kindle format.


Diary dates

Tuesday October 25th, 2011 at 6.30 for private gallery viewing; 7pm for event

Picture This – Writers Talks in the Courtauld Gallery

The Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House

hosted by Somerset House Writer in Residence Frances Wilson.

Describing an artwork that excites, engages or provokes them, Geoff Dyer (author of Jeff in Venice), and Blake Morrison will present their personal reflections in a 20-minute talk, inspired by a painting from the remarkable collection of world-famous Impressionist and Post-Impressionist masterpieces in the Courtauld Gallery.

Talks will be followed by a Q&A session and a chance to meet the writers. Tickets include a pre- or post-talk drink at Tom’s Kitchen Bar.

£12.50/£11 conc. Book through Somerset House.

New writing

Michelle posted a blog about window-shopping in museums at The History Girls website on September 10th.

Her next History Girls blog will be on October 10th.


October books

  • H.M. Castor, VIII

  • Esi Edugyan, Half Blood Blues

  • Patrick Guinness, The Last Hundred Days

  • Robert Upstone, Sickert in Venice

  • Warren Adelson et al, Sargent and Venice

  • Lineadacqua, Gondola Days 2011

  • Mary Jane Cryan, The Irish and English in Italy’s Risorgimento

  • Paul Greenhalgh, Ephemeral Vistas

  • Henry James, The Aspern Papers

  • Carol Birch, Jamrach’s Menagerie

  • Richard Corson, Fashions in Hair, the First Five Thousand Years

  • Lucretia Grindle, The Lost Daughter
    Gertrude E. Gilchrist Rawson, Catalogue of the Gilchrist collection of Victoriana : dolls, works of art and miscellanea, glass, pottery and porcelain, books and printed items, musical boxes and organs, perambulators, Victorian furniture

Alice K. Early, English Dolls, Effigies and Puppets

Eleanor St. George, Dolls of Three Centuries

Brenda Assael, The Circus and Victorian Society    

Krzysztof Pomian, Collectors and Curiosities: Paris and Venice, 1500-1800  

Samuel J. M. M. Alberti, Morbid Curiosities: Medical Museums in Nineteenth-century Britain

Dorothy S. Coleman, The Collector's Encyclopedia of Dolls

Dorothy S. Coleman, The Collector's Book of Dolls' Clothes: Costumes in Miniature: 1700-1929

Marie Anne de Bovet, Three Months' Tour in Ireland

William Whittaker Barry, A Walking Tour Round Ireland in 1865

Padraic O'Farrell, A History of County Kildare

Glenn Hooper (ed) The Tourist's Gaze: Travellers to Ireland, 1800-2000






UK edition

US edition


September 2011

The TV BOOK CLUB’S final episode on August 14th included a summing-up of favourite books by the panellists. Both Rory McGrath and Meera Syal chose The Book of Human Skin as their favourite, followed by Matt Haig’s The Radleys, which was chosen by Jo Brand. (Dave Spikey did not appear on this show). Some of the comments on The Book of Human Skin:


Rory McGrath: Very funny, beautifully written, great use of language, by someone who really obviously enjoys writing and enjoys words.


Meera Syal: When you want to read a book that completely transports you to a completely different world, I think you dive in and lose yourself … [if you want to be] entertained and get a history lesson in the making, and with really memorable characters, I would say The Book of Human Skin

You can see a repeat of the final programme in the series on Four on Demand here, for a couple of weeks

There’s a great new review of The Book of Human Skin here.


Some American reviews are starting to come in for The Undrowned Child, just published there, with a new cover in Tiepolo colours. Renee Steinberg gave it a starred review in the School Library Journal:

Lovric has included intriguing twists and turns on almost every page, with vampire eels and villains galore. Teo is a wonderful but unassuming heroine, and Venice itself is a thrilling character. The combination of imagination, thorough research, and evocative prose renders this an exceptional read that will not relinquish readers from its grasp. Happily, a sequel is already planned. This is Lovric’s first contribution to literature for the young, and it is a gem.


A Curious Reader blog has reviewed it here.


Diary dates

Monday September 12th, 7pm
Italian Cultural Institute

39 Belgrave Square



Venetian novelist Tiziano Scarpa in conversation with Matthew Hoffmanabout his powerful novel Stabat Mater, winner of the Strega Prize, about the girl musicians of the Ospedale della Pietà who trained under Vivaldi.


Stabat Mater is now translated into English by Shaun Whiteside and published by Serpent’s Tail.

 Book online for the event here.


New writing

Michelle posted a blog on The History Girls on August 10th, about accosting old ladies on the vaporetto in Venice. Her next History Girls blog will be on September 10th.


September books

  • Lucretia Grindle, Villa Triste
  • Jane Rogers, The Testament of Jessie Lamb
  • Ursula Dubosarsky, The Golden Day
  • Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex
  • Clarence O. Lewis, The Seven Sutherland Sisters
  • John O'Mahony and R. Lloyd Praeger, The Sunny Side of Ireland - How to see it by the Great Southern and Western Railway


Esme display at London's Tales
on Moon Lane bookshop


August 2011

August 4th was the publication date for the UK paperback of The Mourning Emporium, the sequel to The Undrowned Child. The Mourning Emporium is a tale of orphaned children, unmotherly ladies, gentlemanly dogs, sea monsters and fearless cats. It is set in Venice, London and Hooroo, a mysterious South Sea island off the coast of Australia. You can read reviews of the book here.

The American edition of The Undrowned Child was launched to the book trade with a great review in Publishers Weekly: ‘Energetic pacing, delightful fantasy, historical drama, lively humor, and a palpable love for Venice pervade the first YA novel from Lovric (who has written several adult novels set in that city). Addressing themes of honor, friendship, redemption, and belonging, it's an engrossing page-turner.’ Click here to read the full review.

And Kirkus Reviews, ‘The World’s Toughest Book Critics’, were kind as well: 'Thickly plotted and encrusted with historical characters and fantastic elements (invisibility, an almanac of spells, transmogrifying statuary), Venetian transplant Lovric’s first effort for children is one grisly, bristling ride … A teeming, action-packed fantasy liberally laced with Venetian history, for strong readers of both sexes.’ Click here to read the full review.

It also received a lovely welcome on the Diary of a Bookworm website.

The Undrowned Child is published in the United States by Random House (Delacorte) on August 9th.



The Book of Human Skin was book 5 in the Channel 4 TV Book Club, screened on July 24th and 30th. Amanda Ross, the producer of the programme, wrote in the Daily Express Saturday magazine: ‘It is the most literary of the books and is very challenging. It is hard to sum up, but it is very funny.’ The panel agreed. The programme can be viewed (in the UK) online until the last week in August.

A selection of comments from the show:

Meera Syal:  ‘Funny, inventive, full of brilliant historical details and interesting characters ... she really does draw you in, she takes her time, and then eventually all their lives start to cross ... it builds up a really beautiful, detailed picture ... her research is woven so beautifully into the book ... she makes it human and real and pertinent ... There’s a knowing wink to it, like a direct address and it’s provocative, she really does take chances in her style ... it’s a literary read … It would make a terrific movie.’

Rory McGrath: ‘I’m struggling to find anything bad to say about it; it’s one of the best books I’ve read in years ... I love the way she enjoys the process of writing, enjoys language as well, the story is told by five different narrators, each with their own voice and she seems to really revel and luxuriate in each of those voices ... the historical background really impacts on the action ... it’s very well done ... a stunning piece of work.’

Jo Brand: ‘It’s erudite Hammer Horror … Not a great parenting manual.’

Dave Spikey: ‘It’s got everything, it’s stunning, it’s got religious fanatics, it’s got sadistic jealousy, it’s got love, it’s got abduction, quack medicine, it’s got portraiture, it’s got a bonkers nun who sees things in the butter, what’s not to like about it? ... Each character has a different story, a different take on the story ... I think she’s an incredible writer ... Infused all the way through is this incredible wit ...The way it comes together, it’s just a beautiful book to read … You find you can’t put it down for hours.’

Pamela Stephenson: ‘It’s so dark, and of course it’s brilliant, the writer not so much takes you by the hand and leads you into this world of pestilence and sadism, she sort of drags you kicking and screaming ... I thought it was fascinating ... It’s a page turner; I read it in one sitting.’

There’s also a wonderfully lyrical and extended review of The Book of Human Skin by Lyndsay Wheble of the acclaimed Tolstoy is My Cat blog here, and a lovely review by Sally Hughes on the We Love This Book website.

Kobo, which sells e-books for the smartphone and tablet market, is featuring The Book of Human Skin in its current promotion.

Click here to read the first chapter of The Book of Human Skin on the Bloomsbury website.


New writing

Michelle was interviewed by Sue Purkiss for the ABBA literature festival on July 10th for a blog entitled What the Dickens?

She posted a blog on The History Girls website, also on July 10th, about the arrival of dried cod in Venice.

Her next History Girls blog will be on August 10th.


August books

Tamara Macfarlane, Amazing Esme

Emma Henderson, Grace Williams Says it Loud

Matt Haig, The Radleys

Tea Obreht, The Tiger’s Wife

Alda Monico, Santi Stravaganti

Eve Edwards, The Other Countess

James M. Cain, Mildred Pierce


July 2011

(Please note that the next news will be posted a little later than usual – on August 8th)

Michelle Lovric is a founder member of a newly launched group called The History Girls, two dozen acclaimed writers of historical fiction for young people and adults. The History Girls’ first venture is a blog cooperative, featuring a new post on the theme of historical fiction added by a different writer nearly every day of the month.  The site launches on July 1st.

The Book of Human Skin was reviewed in The Times on June 25th by Paul Dunn (see reviews section of the site).

The paperback edition of The Mourning Emporium is launched this month.


Diary dates

Michelle will be talking about The Book of Human Skin, writing, Venice, plague, madness and evil in a short documentary on the Channel 4 TV Book Club to be screened on July 24th (More4) and July 25th (Channel 4).

Comments are already invited here.

From July 18th, readers will also be able to take part in an interactive chat with the author, read an interview about the writing of the book and vote on their top summer read for 2011.



An Awfully Big Blog Adventure is celebrating its third birthday with the FIRST EVER ONLINE LITERARY FESTIVAL run entirely by children’s authors. On July 9th and 10th, 40 (yes FORTY) children’s authors from the Scattered Authors’ Society, including Adele Geras, Mary Hoffman, Liz Kessler and Celia Rees, will be bringing you something new and special every half hour from 9.30am to 7.30pm.

Join in the conversation! Follow @AwfullyBigBlog on Twitter, tweet about the festival on the day and before, using the hashtag #ABBAlitfest

Naturally, there will be virtual champagne and cake on the day.


New writing

Michelle posted a blog about firemen, blogs and books on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure 0n June 6th.

Her next blog for ABBA will be on July 9th and her first one for History Girls (see above) on July 10th.


Michelle has contributed a short essay to a new book called Mermaid Magic by Serene Conneeley and Lucy Cavendish.  She explains how the mermaids in The Undrowned Child and The Mourning Emporium are allegorical representations of the modern citizens of Venice.


July book (and website) recommendations

Mary Hoffman, David - to launch this extraordinary crossover novel, the author will go on a marathon blog tour, posting a different blog or interview every day on 30 leading literary blogs and websites including Bookwitch, Scribble City, Bookbag and Armadillo. You can see the details here. There’s also a stirring trailer here.

Galia Ofek, Representations of Hair in Victorian Literature and Culture

Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

Rafik Schami, The Calligrapher’s Secret

Deborah Lawrenson, The Lantern

Dennis Lehane, Moonlight Mile

Carole Satyamurti, Stitching the Dark: New and Selected Poems

There’s a video of the poet reading a too-short selection of her work here.

Essie Fox, The Somnambulist – a wonderful Victorian ghost story, and an enviably beautiful, clever website and blog to match.

And Clink Street writer and cartoonist Ros Asquith also has a great new website.






Michelle Lovric’s novel The Book of Human Skin has been selected by Channel 4’s TV Book Club as one of its 2011 Summer Reads.

The show featuring The Book of Human Skin will be aired on July 24 on More 4 and shown on Channel 4 on July 25.

Presenters Jo Brand, Dave Spikey, Laila Rouass, Ade Edmondson, Meera Syal and Rory McGrath invite viewers to read along as they discuss one title per week, with contributions from local reading groups around the country.

See here for more information about the series and the other books selected.

The new paperback edition (pictured) is now available.



June 2011


The Book of Human Skin, due out in paperback this summer, has been previewed for the book trade by Sarah Broadhurst in the Bookseller:

Short, sharp chapters, multi-voiced with the first-person villain exceptionally well portrayed. It is difficult to write successfully about one so dislikeable but Michelle succeeds admirably. We are at the turn of the 18th century in Venice and Peru. Highly recommended.

There’s also a detailed review of the book here.

There’s a review (in Italian) for Il Grimorio di Venezia on the Sul Romanzo website.

And (in English) in the Guardian online.

There’s also a new review for The Mourning Emporium at Bookgrotto.


New writing

Michelle Lovric has posted a piece on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure about writers trying to find their off-switch at weekends.

Her next ABBA post will be on June 6th.


Venice news

Gondoliers are turning into booksellers in Venice. One hundred thousand copies have been printed of this new title, Gondola Days, for distribution by the city’s best-known ambassadors.  The book is published in English and Italian by Lineadacqua in collaboration with the Venice Comune and the Associazione Gondolieri.



Venice in Peril presents
June 4th – September 30th, 2011

An exhibition at the 54th Venice Biennale:
Abbey of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice

Venice in Peril, in collaboration with Ivorypress, presents Real Venice: a major art initiative to raise funds for the city of Venice. Fourteen internationally renowned photographers were invited to visit the city and with absolute freedom make a portfolio of images. 

These artists include: Lynne Cohen, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Antonio Girbés, Nan Goldin, Pierre Gonnord, Dionisio González, Candida Höfer, Tiina Itkonen, Mimmo Jodice, Tim Parchikov, Matthias Schaller, Jules Spinatsch, Hiroshi Watanabe and Robert Walker. Each artist has donated an edition of their portfolio to be sold in aid of Venice in Peril.

The resulting images show Venice in all its beauty, but also in all its paradoxes and contrasts.  As well as addressing the everyday life of the city’s inhabitants, its classic monuments and modern architecture, the portfolios capture the ravages wrought by mass tourism and the rise of the lagoon water level.  


A.S. Byatt has also come out against the ‘Maxi-Pubblicità’ currently defacing Venice’s beautiful buildings.


Venice’s Lido is sadly under-represented in books (apart from Thomas Mann’s, of course). So it’s good news that there’s now a Blue Guide to the Lido, written by Robin Saikia. The book’s website is and there is a booktrailer film on Youtube.


June books

Clink Street writer Pam Johnson has a poem, ‘Girl From The North’, in The Captain’s Tower, a new anthology of 70 poems marking Bob Dylan’s 70th birthday. Other featured poets include Allen Ginsberg, Laurence Ferlinghetti, Michael McClure, Roger McGough, Glyn Maxwell, Robert Minhinnick and Matthew Sweeney. Read more about the London launch here.

Marie-Louise Jensen, Between Two Seas

Mary Hooper, Fallen Grace

Sarah Winman, When God Was a Rabbit



May 2011

Elaine Chant of Carousel magazine came to Venice and interviewed Michelle Lovric about re-inventing the ancient city for children. You can read about their conversation and visits to places featured in The Undrowned Child in A Merchant of Stories.


There’s another interview with Michelle Lovric (in Italian) at the Fantasy Magazine website.


At left, a photo of Il Grimorio di Venezia, the Italian edition of The Undrowned Child, on display in Bologna during the Children’s Book Fair.


There’s a lovely review of The Book of Human Skin by Sue Purkiss on the ABBA blog, and an interesting meditation on what volumes one would find in a Cemetery of Forgotten Books.


New writing

Michelle’s next post on ABBA will be on April 30th and after that, on June 6th.


For the English Writers in Italy April diary, she’s written an article about the maxi-pubblicità’ – the oversized and often tasteless advertisements currently defacing some of Venice’s most dignified buildings. After May 1st, scroll down to April.


Venice news

‘Shabby Chic’, an exhibition of paintings by Vanessa Wagstaff, explores the links between the subject and the medium, between the crumbling past and the building of layers of pigment and varnish. Vanessa’s works include paintings inspired by visits to Venice, Petworth House and to Knole in Kent. Her work also extends to evocative paintings of period costume. A percentage from sales of any of her series of Venice paintings will be donated to the Venice in Peril Fund. 

Troubadour Gallery

267 OLD BROMPTON ROAD, LONDON SW6 on 4th, 5th & 6th May 2011



May books

Miranda Innes, Cinnamon City

Arch Merrill, Shadows on the Wall, Tales of York State

Leslie Wilson, Saving Rafael

Rosamund Lupton, Sister

Henning Mankell, Italian Shoes

Caroline Lawrence, The Beggar of Volubilis (there’s a trailer for her new series here)

Crisafulli, et al (eds), Venezia che spera, l’unione all-Italia 1859–1866

Ministero per i beni e le Attività Culturali, Aspettando l’unità 1850–1866




April 2011

This month’s news is published a little earlier than normal because of a workshop in Venice next week.

Publishing news

The Italian edition of The Undrowned Child, Il Grimorio di Venezia, was chosen as the Book of the Month by Il Gazzettino Illustrato.

And The Mourning Emporium has a lovely new review at Madhouse Family Reviews.


New writing

Michelle Lovric has posted on the similarities between wine labels and book jackets for An Awfully Big Blog Adventure on March 22nd.

Her next ABBA blog will on April 30th and she’ll also be doing the April diary entry for the English Writers in Italy website.


April books

Sally Cline and Carole Angier, The Arvon Book of Life Writing

Arthur Miller, The Crucible

V. Marchesi, Settant’anni di Storia Politica di Venezia, 1892

Mavis Cheek, Pause between the Acts, Parlour Games

L’ACQUA E LA LUCE, La fotografia a Venezia all’alba dell’Unità d’Italia

Rosemary Bailey, The Man who Married a Mountain


Photo by Rosato Frassanito.

Homepage of


March news


A Chinese edition of The Undrowned Child has been published by Sharp Point Publishing, a division of Cité Publishing Ltd.

Il Grimorio di Venezia, the Italian edition of The Undrowned Child, in the window of the Toletta Kids bookshop in Venice.

There’s a nice new review for The Undrowned Child on Monica Cesarato’s blog.

And another for The Book of Human Skin here.

And one for The Mourning Emporium in the Sydney Mourning Herald.

But best of all, there’s this one on the City-Lit website, a thoughtful extended review of both the children’s books in the context of gifts of the imagination.


New writing

On February 14th, Michelle Lovric posted a blog about the death of a bookshop in Venice on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure.


Venice news

The Venetian gondoliers have signed a record deal with Decca Records. Luca Foffano, Michele Bozzato and Michael Malvich signed the record contract on the banks of the River Thames. Dressed in their iconic gondolier outfits, the singers celebrated the occasion by serenading passers-by from aboard a Thames water taxi.

As well as taking their singing outside Venice and beyond, the Gondoliers are also calling upon the world to help save their city. Decca will be making a donation to Venice in Peril on behalf of the Gondoliers, and the money will be used to continue to the charity's research into the long-term sustainability of Venice

Mark Wilkinson, Managing Director of Decca Records Group, said, ‘The smooth, rich, romantic sound of the Gondoliers will set hearts racing – whilst at the same time drawing attention to the serious issues facing one of the world's most beautiful cities.’

The Gondoliers' album will be released on March 21st.  To hear and see the Gondoliers, and to pre-order the album, visit  The Gondoliers website.


March books


Rhiannon Lassiter, Ghost of a Chance

Donna Leon, About Face

Gillian Philip, Firebrand

Luca Bianchini, Siamo solo amici

George Macaulay Trevelyan, Manin and the Venetian Revolution of 1848

The Connoisseur Period Guides: The Early Victorian Period 1836 –1860


February news

There's a new trailer for The Undrowned Child and The Mourning Emporium on YouTube.



The American edition of The Undrowned Child will be published by the Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House, on August 9th this year, with The Mourning Emporium following in 2012.




At left is the Italian cover for The Undrowned Child, published on January 7th by Salani. Il Grimorio di Venezia translates as The Magical Almanac of Venice. And the cover text announces ‘an astonishing journey through a secret Venice, a city of the night, made of ruined palaces and tiny islands, roamed by the ghosts of heroes and monsters from the past’.

The Italian edition was launched with a dinner hosted by the publishers Salani at ‘Le Maschere’ in Venice’s Hotel Splendid on January 25th. The book was introduced by Luigi Spagnol, the President of Salani. The dinner was attended by Dr Paolo Pisanti, President of the Association of Italian Bookshops and 50 booksellers from all over Italy. Also present was the well-known publisher and bookseller Ulrico Hoepli. During the event, Michelle Lovric was presented with a gilded chalice by Gianfranco Albertini, President of the Consorzio Promovetro Murano, in recognition of her work.


There’s a lovely new extended review of The Undrowned Child at the Book Grotto website.

The Mourning Emporium is an Editors' Choice in the February 2011 issue of The Historical Novels Review. A version of the review appears on the Historical Novel Society website (scroll down).


Venice news

One of the saddest events in Venice in recent times was the closing in January of the Mondadori bookshop near San Marco. The bookshop will be replaced by a branch of Louis Vuitton. Venetians protested and petitioned, but to no avail. In its seven-year life, the bookshop hosted more the 1200 cultural events, including the launch of Michelle Lovric’s novel The Remedy.  


New writing

Michelle Lovric has posted a blog about Romanian witches on January 8th at An Awfully Big Blog Adventure.

Her next ABBA blog is scheduled for February 14th.


February books 

Melissa Stein, Rough Honey
(Winner of the APR/Honickman First Book Prize, selected and with an Introduction by Mark Doty)

For a taste, see

Lisa Moore, February

Maurus Jókai, The Tower of Dago, 1899

Herman Melville, The Piazza Tales, 1856

Peter Temple, The Broken Shore

Kathryn Stockett, The Help

Gregory Hughes, Unhooking the Moon

Elizabeth Roberts and Elias Armidon, eds, Earth Prayers

There’s also a lot of good reading on a beautiful new website just launched by Essie Fox, author of the forthcoming novel, The Somnabulist.




January news

On December 6th, a surprisingly large number of people braved the cold to listen to Maxim Jacubowski interview Michelle Lovric on her life and writings about Venice.

There’s an account of proceedings at the city-lit café site.

The Mourning Emporium was picked as one of the top ten Young Adult books of 2010 by the Independent.

It was also named as one of the top ten books of 2010 in Mr Ripley’s Enchanted Books blog, and nominated as book of the month, and one of the books of the year, by The Bookzone (for boys) website.

It featured on the top books for Christmas list – for children who like history – at the The Diary of a Bookworm website and there’s a lovely review from the Bookwitch website here.

And The Undrowned Child was named one of the two best books of the year in this category by the Book Grotto Blogspot.


New writing

Michelle Lovric posted a blog about writers’ dreams on November 30th  on an An Awfully Big Blog Adventure.

She’s also posted two new Venetian cat biographies on The Diary of a Bookworm website’s Feline Fridays, December 10th and 17th.  (For many more Venetian cats, go to the Undrowned Child section of this website.)

The London Library’s magazine has published an article about the books that inspired Michelle Lovric in writing The Mourning Emporium.


Venice news

The Venice Superintendent for Fine Arts, Renata Codello, has decided that the Charles Ray sculpture of a naked boy with a frog will be removed in spring from the Punta della Dogana. This follows strenuous public protests and a Facebook campaign to restore the old lamp-post that originally occupied the spot. The journalist Erla Zwingle, who lives in Venice, has written an interesting blog about it here.

 The 20th annual Venice in Peril exhibition will be held at W. H. Patterson from Wednesday January 13th to Friday February 5th, 2010

19 Albemarle Street,  
London W1S 4BB
Telephone: 020 7629 4119


The Vittore Branca International Center for the Study of Italian Culture, an international resource for humanities studies inaugurated in June 2010, is aimed at young researchers and expert scholars interested in Italian culture, and provides a place of study and meeting for young researchers and expert scholars,  writers and artists interested in furthering their knowledge in a field of Italian culture (especially the culture of the Veneto) –visual arts, history, literature, music, drama – from an interdisciplinary point of view.

This year the Vittore Branca Center offers some new features:

 –    Graduate and postgraduate students of all ages will be able to apply for admission to the Vittore Branca Center for a period of study. No distinction between Junior and Senior scholars exists anymore (Juniors were postgraduate students studying for a master’s degree, doctorate or specialization, and PhD graduates, and Seniors were expert scholars, university lecturers and senior researchers).

 –    The requested period of stay is now flexible: there is no minimum requested stay any more. Every scholar will be free to choose a period of stay in keeping with the aims of his/her research work at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini libraries.

The residential facilities on the Island provide scholars and researchers with the opportunity to work and stay at length on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, at economically reasonable conditions in a setting conducive to reflection and intellectual exchanges. A residence situated in the grounds of the Island can accommodate up to 90 scholars, allowing young researchers and expert scholars to enjoy the mutual benefits of working side by side.

Researchers at the Vittore Branca Center will also have privileged access to the Fondazione Giorgio Cini libraries and archives, specialized in the areas of art history, Venetian history, literature, music, dance and theatre, and to the literary, art, drama and music bequests housed in the Foundation.

Moreover, they will have free access to all cultural events (courses, seminars, conferences, exhibitions, concerts, etc.) organized by the Giorgio Cini Foundation. Thus, for example, musicologists can attend seminars of historical studies, while art historians can sit in on seminars on early music: both have the opportunity to explore the broader cultural background to their own work.

Researchers at the Vittore Branca Center will also have free access to a series of services, such as a workplace in the Nuova Manica Lunga library with internet connection and access to printer and scanner; an international newspaper library; cultural initiatives aimed at residents; advice and information about libraries and archives of the main Venetian institutions.

Lastly, young researchers at the Vittore Branca Center can also benefit from the presence of a tutor who will assist them in becoming familiar with the general set-up on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore and its documentary and artistic heritage. Tutors will also advise researchers on cultural events at the Giorgio Cini Foundation and in the city and will suggest which directors and collaborators in the Foundation’s Institutes and Research Centers can help them with their research projects.

Access to the Vittore Branca Center and all its facilities requires prior admission: see for more information.

For the period from May 2011 – April 2012, six scholarships are available for students younger than 35 for a six-month period of stay. Scholarships include 7000 euros (as a contribution to general expenses, travel and food cost) and hospitality in the Residence for the whole period of stay. Scholarships will be awarded only to scholars willing to work on one of the research topics suggested by the Fondazione Giorgio Cini. Scholarship application deadline: January 31st, 2011.


January books

 Kate Atkinson, Started Early, Took My Dog

Elizabeth Strout, Olive Kitteridge

Paul Murray, Skippy Dies

Peter Carey, Parrot and Olivier in America

Men, and How to Manage Them, by ‘an Old Housekeeper’, Melbourne, 1885


December news

(Please note that the January news will be posted a week later than usual).


Reviews for The Mourning Emporium, just published

This sequel to Lovric’s atmospheric The Undrowned Child moves the action from the murky lagoon of Venice to the dark, narrow backstreets of Victorian London, where an evil plot to supplant the Royal succession threatens the country.

Teo, the Undrowned Child, and her partner Renzo are charged with saving the city, inhabited by drugged mermaids, pirates and talking bulldogs. Of course.

Wildly imaginative and action-packed, Lovric’s books stand out for their authentic historic detail and inventive use of language. A rambunctious romp for girls and boys who like fun with their fantasy.

Laura Morris, Daily Mail, November 11th, 2010

This is the second book from the acclaimed debut novelist, who wrote The Undrowned Child last year. The historical features and elements of Venice are clearly introduced at the beginning of this story. Every page turned pieces together yet another pictorial aspect of this great city and creates a lasting impression. In fact the more you read, the more you want to visit and explore this great wonder of a city. The historical detail, threaded throughout the story, creates a unique and rich back drop for the introduction of a number of wonderful and crazy characters …

Starting off on a roller-coaster ride of words, the author has the amazing ability to tell a story with a poetic voice. Sometimes she invents intriguing new words or accents, in order to fit the character’s profile, which I really liked and found interesting.  Elements of the story are purely fantastical, with just a hint of truth to blend the story together …

This is a book to be enjoyed by lovers of great fictional writing. It has a lot going on from ghosts to talking animals and mermaids to blood-sucking leeches. Never mind the torture, battles and frolics to be found on the high sea. The author has made good use of her personal knowledge of both London and Venice to lift this adventure - infusing it with charm and character that you don't always find. This should surely tempt you to get your hands on a copy of this book.

Mr Ripley’s Enchanted Books blogspot, November 19th, 2010

For more new reviews, see

Georgian London

The Virtual Victorian

The Diary of a Bookworm

Books for Keeps

Mr Ripley’s Enchanted Books


The Italian edition of The Undrowned Child will be published by Salani on January 27th. It is entitled Il Grimorio di Venezia, and Michelle Lovric will be addressing the annual conference of Italian booksellers during the week of publication.


The Book of Human Skin has been named as one of Bookbag’s Top Ten Historical Novels of 2010 and is also listed in Bookbag’s Christmas Gift Recommendations for 2010.


Contracts have been signed for a Slovenian edition of How to Abuse, Insult and Insinuate in Classical Latin


Diary dates


Michelle Lovric will be in conversation with Maxim Jacubowski on the subject of writing about Venice on December 6th at the Italian Cultural Institute.   Tickets are free but must be reserved by phone or email.

See October News for full details.


New writing

Michelle Lovric has posted a piece about a cat love triangle in Venice on an Awfully Big Blog Adventure, October 24th.

There’s another ABBA blog on November 30th, this time about pre-publication dreams and the Japanese Nightmare God, Baku.

She’s written a guest-blog about living and writing Venice for children for the wonderful Cornflower website.

There’s an interview with Michelle Lovric on the Diary of a Bookworm website, followed by a piece about Rose la Touche. Watch out for some more Venetian cats on the same site during December.

 Venice news

On December 10th a new Venice movie opens in the UK. The Tourist stars Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, who rented one of the Mocenigo palazzi for the duration of the filming this past spring. You can see a preview of the movie here.

 December books

 Sarah Salway, Something Beginning With

Maxim Jacubowski, I Was Waiting for You

Sally Gardner, The Red Necklace

Kate Saunders, Bewitched

Joanne Owen, The Alchemist and The Angel

Elfrida Vipont, The Lark in the Morn

Debi Gliori, Pure Dead Wicked

Mary Hoffman, Special Powers

Sue Purkiss, Emily’s Surprising Voyage

Alan Baker and Gideon Biger, Ideology and Landscape in Historical Perspective

Ian Beck, Pastworld

Courtenay Dunn, The Natural History of the Child

Jack Zipes, Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion

Leonard de Vries, Victorian Inventions

Robert Bell, Our Children: How to Keep Them Well and Treat Them When They Are Ill

David Mech and Luigi Boitani, Wolves: Behavior, Ecology, and Conservation

       Interior Ca d'Oro, 2004 

Elephants in Rio terra della
Mandola, 1981

Rio di San Lorenzo (i), 1995

Rio Pontinello (iii), 2010




November news

The Mourning Emporium, sequel to The Undrowned Child, was published on October 28th. Here are some photographs from the trade launch party. The venue was decorated like the mourning emporium of Tristesse & Ganorus, the fictional undertakers of the novel, complete with black drapery, urns, ivy, candles and stuffed animals.

New website pages explaining the background to The Mourning Emporium can be found here. There are mini biographies for all the children and creatures in the book; also an explanation of the strange drugs for ‘feminine weakness’ attributed to so many women in Victorian times, and some recipes for the dreadful food fed to the unfortunate crew of the Scilla, a floating Venetian orphanage that is the setting for much of the action in the novel.




Sinister, spying cormorants feature heavily in The Mourning Emporium. This sculpture of a cormorant was specially made by artist Dianne Preston.

Dianne writes here about how she came to make ‘George Blair’, the star of the Mourning Emporium launch party.

George Blair

Michelle contacted me about some crows on my website. After some cheerful email correspondence with her I offered to make a cormorant to be the focal point for the publishing party to launch The Mourning Emporium. A serendipitous connection is that I live on a narrowboat in London called ‘La Serenissima’ and that we were both born in Australia.

I was meanwhile reading The Undrowned Child, amazed at the breadth of Michelle’s imagination and the richness of her writing, and discovering the significance of birds in her stories.  They are most frequently villainous and directed by a mysterious malign force. The magòghe (huge grey-backed gulls) with their ‘cold blank eyes’ are malignant in Venice; and the London cormorant on the book jacket of The Mourning Emporium looks promisingly scary and powerful.

I like to use recycled materials in my papier mâché sculpture, and kind friends supply me with many varieties of wire and paper. The cormorant ‘George Blair’ has a wire armature and a mixed body of pulped paper with layers of various papers and some fabric. He’s painted in acrylic. Tony Blair has kindly (though unwittingly) donated his eyes. They are torn out of a Sunday supplement and enhanced.  I will leave it to the viewer to decide whether this contributes to George’s malevolent air!


The Undrowned Child has been longlisted for the United Kingdom Literacy Association’s 2011 Children’s Book Awards.


Diary dates

Michelle Lovric will be in conversation with Maxim Jacubowski on the subject of writing about Venice on December 6th at the Italian Cultural Institute (see October’s fuller version for booking details).


New writing

A Venetian gondolier has written a novel called Invasione negata about problems of Italian metropolitan life in the context of widespread immigration from Eastern Europe. His next book is called American Gondolier and tells of a Venice bought by America and inhabited by a race of android gondoliers. Michelle Lovric has posted a blog about this story on an Awfully Big Blog Adventure on October 18th.

And there’s another ABBA blog on a cat love triangle here.

There’s also a piece from Michelle Lovric on the big heart of a Venetian barista on the City-Lit Café website.

And next: Michelle Lovric has written a diary piece (about chocolate) for November on the English Writers in Italy website.

Venice news

Sarah Quill’s poetic and precise photographs of Venice are featured in an exhibition at the Piers Feetham Gallery from October 27th until November 13th 2010. Also on show will be her portraits, opera photos and film stills.

475 Fulham Road
Tel +44 (0) 20 7381 3031
All images copyright © 2010 Sarah Quill
Reproduction of these images is strictly forbidden without the permission of the copyright  holder.

Extracts from some notes on the photographs by Sarah Quill

The elephant pictures were taken in late February 1981, when the Cirque Gruss à l’ancienne arrived from Paris and set up a big top in Campo Sant’Angelo.  This long- established family circus, in which the clowns became the animal-handlers when off-duty, gave performances in the campo for about a fortnight.  Alexis Gruss, who performed bareback riding feats of breathtaking skill and beauty with his daughter Maud, was in charge of the elephants. He is photographed leading them down Rio terra della Mandola on their way to the Grand Canal, where they boarded a lorry on a low-loader for the start of the journey back to Paris.

The RIO series of photographs, which are studies for larger works, was begun in the mid-1990s.  Since it is obvious that these images are reflections in water, the pictures are shown in the format in which they were seen and photographed.


Tickets are available now for

Ruskin and Venice

The Ashley Clarke Memorial Lecture

in aid of Venice in Peril

November 10th 2010 at 6:30pm
The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 0RN
For tickets:


November books

Iain Pears, Stone’s Fall

Kimberly Cutter, The Maid

Marjory Wardrop, Georgian Folk Tales, 1894

The Conoisseur Series, The Early Victorian Period, 1830–1860

Alan R. Baker and Giedon Biger, editors, Ideology and Landscape in Historical Perspective

Robert Bell, Our Children – How to Keep Them Well and Treat Them when They are Ill, 1887

V. Marchesi, Settant’anni di Storia Politica di Venezia, 1892

George Macaulay Trevelyan, Manin and the Venetian Revolution of 1848, 1923



October news


The Mourning Emporium, sequel to The Undrowned Child, will be published on October 28th.  A new section of this website, all about the background to the book, will be launched on October 13th.

Some bookshop windows in the UK will make special displays for the publication of The Mourning Emporium, as pictured at left. The displays include various elements from the story: an old photo of Venice enveloped in snow, pirate money, a black bat, paper memorials to Queen Victoria, Mourning Liquorice, a skeleton and a signpost for Tristesse & Ganorus’ Mansion Dolorous, the mourning emporium of the book’s title.

There’s a new page in the children’s section of this site, where you can hear the actress Lucy Scott reading from the audio version of The Undrowned Child.

There’s a new review of The Undrowned Child on the influential Cornflower literary blog.



Diary dates

Mary Hoffman and Michelle Lovric will be talking about ways to write about Venice and Italy in fiction at the Ilkley Festival on October 10th.


City-pick Venice evening. (See below, re new writing). It’s cold, it’s winter, it’s dreary. You’d rather be at the Venice Carnival, dreaming in a gondola or just sitting in a very special Venetian café ... Join Oxygen Publishers and Fictional Cities’ Jeff Cotton for a celebration of all things Venetian, with readings, discussions, samplings and competitions on Wednesday November 10th, 7.45 – 9.30pm, at Brentwood Library, New Road, Brentwood, Essex CM14 4BP. Tickets are free but ring 01277 264290 as places are limited.


Michelle Lovric has been invited to take part in a series of events with authors who write about Italy.



The series, curated by Maxim Jakubowski, will feature eight leading English-speaking writers in conversation, discussing why they so often write about Italy, Italians and Italian culture.

The warm love affair between British and American writers and Italian literature and culture is a treasured relationship that goes back several centuries, and this will prove an invaluable occasion to examine its contemporary relevance and examples, as writers like Sarah Dunant, Iain Pears, Michelle Lovric, Lindsey Davis, David Hewson, Donna Leon, Tobias Jones and Maxim Jakubowski will appear in conversation with critic Barry Forshaw, author Lauren Henderson and Maxim Jakubowski to discuss their appreciation of all things Italian.

Expect revelations, surprises and intimate confessions!

September 27th SARAH DUNANT with Maxim Jakubowski
October 111th IAIN PEARS with Barry Forshaw
November 15th MAXIM JAKUBOWSKI with Barry Forshaw
December 6th MICHELLE LOVRIC with Maxim Jakubowski
January 17th LINDSEY DAVIS with Lauren Henderson
February 21st DAVID HEWSON with Barry Forshaw
DONNA LEON with Maxim Jakubowski (specific date in April to be advised)
May 9th  TOBIAS JONES with Lauren Henderson

All talks begin at 7pm. Tickets are free but must be booked in advance.


Contact: Anna Mondavio Tel. 020 7396 4409

Italian Cultural Institute 39, Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8NX


New writing

Michelle Lovric has posted a blog about why The Mourning Emporium has such a medicinal flavour at An Awfully Big Blog Adventure, September 18th.

(Wikio has recently rated ABBA as the sixth-most influential literary blog in the UK.)

Her next ABBA blog will be on October 18th.


Michelle Lovric has contributed three pieces on modern-day life in a floating city to Oxygen Books’ new title in their acclaimed City-Pick series. City-Pick Venice, edited by Heather Reyes, is published on November 4th. It has a foreword by Jeff Cotton from


October books


Leila Rasheed, The World Turned Upside Down.

This book was commissioned by the Stratford-Upon-Avon Literary Festival in late 2009/ early 2010. Their idea was to publish a special novel as part of the festival, on the theme of ‘Hidden Stratford’, also the subject of a photographic exhibition. The cover was designed by Alex Pritchard, a local art student aged 16, as part of a competition run by the festival.

Copies are available from Annie Ashworth at the festival website:


Linda Strachan, Spider

Emma Donoghue, Room

Blake Morrison, The Last Weekend

Simonetta Agnello Hornby, The Almond Picker

Joanne Harris, Blueeyedboy

Horatio Brown, Life in the Lagoons, 1904 edition

Montague Summers, The Geography of Witchcraft, 1927

E. P. Evans, The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals, 1906

Jennifer Donnelly, Revolution




September news

Here’s the first review for The Mourning Emporium. It’s by Jill Murphy on the Bookbag website.

An extract:

It's as rousing and vivid a book as its predecessor - on the surface is a mix of swashbuckling and humour, but underlying the action is some truly awesome research and a vocabulary-busting turn of phrase. Once again, the supporting cast adds sparkle after sparkle. I was most glad to reacquaint myself with Venice's curry-loving, salty-tongued mermaids and I shared their disgust in their London counterparts - languid, fussy, uptight melusines they are, addled on Victorian London's various quackeries …Turtledove, a kindhearted, orphan-saving, talking bulldog, was my other favourite. He's as memorable as any Narnian creation. There are ghosts, talking animals, pirates, orphans, heroes and villains in world "between the linings", but there's also a vivid and utterly accurate historical picture of London and Venice at the time. There's pace and tension, and there's a genuine and robust sense of humour underlying it.

And Sue Chambers, of the Harrods in-store bookshop, posted this on the Waterstones website:

This is the sequel to The Undrowned Child a book that I sell in Waterstones in Harrods by the dozen - I received the proof of this second book a few days ago and felt that EVERYONE should be aware of this addition to the Teodora & Renzo's seems that Tiepolo is moving more ways than one...
I was laughing out loud on the tube this morning...and I am gripped once again by Michelle Lovric's depiction of Venice & evil and am waiting impatiently for my lunch break to return to Venice, Teo, Renzo...mermaids, cats and the rest...
Everyone who has been to Venice, should and must read The Undrowned Child and then preorder this sequel..... Those that haven't been should visit and take The Undrowned Child with them...


And there’s a new review of The Book of Human Skin on Suite 101.

An extract:

It would be possible to go on and on about this book, as it has many layers, including social, cultural, religious and familial aspects throughout its 476 pages. It is breathtaking, uncomfortable, and exceptionally unique in the contemporary canon of literature.

Caroline Ash has reviewed The Book of Human Skin alongside the SKIN exhibition at the Wellcome Trust in London, in SCIENCE, August13th issue.

Here’s an extract:  

The exhibition [Skin, at the Wellcome Collection until 26 September 2010] comprehensively illustrates Lovric’s book. Skin is the main character in her comic, gothic horror story: a black’n’white, good’n’evil story. The distinctive skins of the five voices of the book are constantly on display, even depicted by different typefaces on the paper skins of the book. As his own erupts in crops of maggoty pimples, the garrulous Minguillo Fasan pursues an obsessive desire to torment his beautiful and pusillanimous sister, Marcella, almost, but not quite, to the point of death. In balancing the evil characters, the other crazed lunatic, Sor Loreta, is determined to toy with her own life and masochistically destroys her skin in her madly competitive desire to appear holier than thou. And then there is the all-too-necessary resectioning of skin that the sympathetic young surgeon Dr Santo Aldobrandini has to practise, not to mention the bruises, wounds, diseases and other evidence of grotesque abuse witnessed by the noble servant Gianni delle Boccole. Nevertheless, the appalling Minguillo Fasan apparently has some redeeming characteristics: his love of his Venetian palazzo and of his books. As the story peels apart, this passion for books is revealed to be yet another grotesque compulsion, but one that rather satisfyingly supplies his nemesis. The author artfully implies this is not a nice book, and as she pulls us in, horrified and intrigued, we, the readers, become complicit in Fasan’s crimes. Indeed, it’s a truly nasty book …The exhibition and Lovric’s novel each make it plain that skin is the principal component of our identity, both hiding and betraying our inner selves.

 For information on the Skin exhibition  at the Wellcome, see here.


 An audio edition of The Undrowned Child, read by Lucy Scott, will be released this month by Oakhill Publishing. The package includes more than 12 hours of drama and adventure over 10 cds.




And here is the jacket design of the Polish edition of The Undrowned Child, published this month by Jaguar.


 Diary dates

Mary Hoffman and Michelle Lovric will be talking about ways to fictionalize Venice and Italy at the Ilkley Festival on October 10th.

Michelle Lovric will be interviewed by Maxim Jakubowski on living and writing Venice at the Italian Cultural Institute on December 6th.


New writing

Michelle Lovric has posted a blog on Madonnas and cats

on an Awfully Big Blog Adventure, August 13th.

 Her next ABBA blog will be on September 18th.


Venice news


An enterprising Venetian dentist has launched the idea of dental holidays in la Serenissima. Studio Barchitta will not only check your teeth but help you find accommodation and sort out your travel.


Tel 00 39 338 972 9761


 September book recommendations

An unusual new guide to Venice is published this month: Secret Venice by Thomas Jonglez and Paola Zoffoli. There’s more information about the book on this website.

 Mary Hoffman, Troubadour

David Mitchell, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Andrea Levy, The Long Song

Louise Doughty, Whatever You Love

The Book of Human Skin in
the window of the Mondadori
Bookshop in Venice


August news

There’s a long review for The Book of Human Skin here

Other new reviews here

And here


New writing

Michelle Lovric has posted a blog on Five Forms of Howler on an Awfully Big Blog Adventure, July 9th



Reminder - Edinburgh Festival

Bookings are now open for the August 21st event in which Michelle Lovric and Katie Hickman, author of The Pindar Diamond, will be in conversation about the art of writing about Venice

Saturday  August 21st 7:00pm - 8:00pm

The festival website is here.


On August 6th, Better Bankside will be holding a book swap event in the Union Street Urban Orchard. Simply bring along a book you've already read and pick up a new one absolutely free. These include signed copies of novels by local author Michelle Lovric: The Book of Human Skin, The Undrowned Child and The Remedy, which is partly set in Bankside.

The orchard is open all summer long and is the perfect place to while away your lunch hour with a good book.

12.00noon - 2.00pm

  • Union Street Urban Orchard
100 Union Street

For more information contact 0207 928 3998


August books

Peter Walker, The Courier's Tale

Emily Barr, The Perfect Lie

Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna



July 2010

The Book of Human Skin has just been published in Canada by Penguin.

Read the first review here.




Wellcome Collection | June 10th–September 26th 2010


Michelle Lovric will present an event about her novel, The Book of Human Skin, at the Wellcome Collection on Saturday July 3rd at 2.30pm.

She will also lead a personal guided tour of the exhibition on Wednesday July 28th at 2pm.

Admission to both events is free, but it is advisable to pre-book an e-ticket for the July 3rd lecture here

Signed copies of The Book of Human Skin are now available at the Blackwell bookshop at the Wellcome Collection.


New writing

Michelle Lovric has posted a blog about conversation in life and books, on an Awfully Big Blog Adventure, June 5th.

Her next blog for ABBA will be July 9th.

Venice news

On June 15th, exactly seven hundred years after the conspiracy of Baiamonte Tiepolo, a group of Venetians and foreigners gathered in Campo Sant’Agostin to mark the anniversary. A toast was made to the failure of Baiamonte’s plot to assassinate the Doge and set up a dictatorship in Venice. The weather was historically correct: unseasonable rain and wind – just like on the night Baiamonte was defeated. A descendant of Baiamonte’s intended victim, Doge Pietro Gradenigo, flew in from America for the occasion. Derrick Gradney is pictured here at a Baiamonte dinner at the Hotel Monaco, alongside Nelli-Elena Vanzan Marchini, who organised the two conferences about the conspiracy in Venice this Spring, and who is the guiding spirit behind Venezia Civiltà Anfibia (see News for February 2010)

Nelli-Elena Vanzan Marchini has written the script for a dramatized account of the conspiracy, which will take place in Venice on July 4th at the Telecom Futures Centre in Campo San Salvador at 9pm.


Edinburgh Festival

Bookings are now open for the August 21st event in which Michelle Lovric and Katie Hickman, author of The Pindar Diamond, will be in conversation about the art of writing about Venice

Saturday  August 21st 7:00pm - 8:00pm

The festival website is here.


July books

Laurie Graham’s eagerly awaited new novel, At Sea, is published by Quercus this month. Read more about it here.

Nina G. Jablonski, Skin, A Natural History

Michael Chabon, Wonder Boys

Bronia Kita, The Swansong of Wilbur McCrum

Muriel Spark, A Far Cry from Kensington

Elizabeth Edmondson, The Art of Love

Maria McCann, The Wilding

Mary Hoffman, The Falconer’s Knot

Geraldine Brooks, People of the Book

Jonathan Dee, The Privileges

Evie Wyld, After the Fire, a Still Small Voice



June news

Michelle Lovric has been appointed Royal Literary Fellow at the Courtauld Institute of Art, starting in September this year.  

Tickets may ordered for collection at  the door for Michelle Lovric’s Venice in Peril lecture (see May news) on June 1st, 7pm, at the Royal Geographical Society, 1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR. Email:

Details of Michelle Lovric’s personal guided tour of the Wellcome Collection’s Skin exhibition (July 28) have been posted here and her event in the Wellcome Library (July 3) here.


Publishing news

The Book of Human Skin has been named one of Woman & Home’s Top 25 Books For 2010

Latest review of The Book of Human Skin:

‘She is a pitiless writer, who revels in creating a cast of lovable rabbits, then setting a mink loose amongst them and watching it go about its feral business …’ Lucy Inglis, For the whole review click here.


New writing

Michelle Lovric has written a review of Flora Tristan’s Peregrinations of a Pariah on the influential Normblog site for May 18th.

Her next post on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure will be June 3rd.


Venice news

Venice's Settemari rowing and cultural organization will hold a 'fresco notturno', a waterbourne event, to mark the 700th anniversary of the conspiracy of Baiamonte Tiepolo, on the evening of June 15th, the feast of San Vio. The boats will make a procession up and down the Grand Canal, stopping at San Vio, where a new church was built in the 14th century to mark the salvation of the city, and at Sant'Agostin, the site of Baiamonte palace, which was razed to the ground after his conspiracy failed. Baiamonte's plans were betrayed to the Doge, and an old lady threw a mortar and pestle at the head of his standard-bearer, throwing his forces into disarray.

A column of infamy, which once stood at Sant'Agostin, is still in storage at the Doges' Palace, but members of the Settemari and the public will deliver mortars to Sant'Agostin, as a symbol of the people's rejection of Baiamonte's bid for tyrannical power.

Katie Hickman’s evocative new Venetian-set novel The Pindar Diamond, is published by Bloomsbury on June 7th.

It's Venice, 1604. When rumours of a spectacularly rare and priceless diamond begin to circulate amongst the gamblers and courtesans of the Venetian demi-monde, the Levant Company merchant, Paul Pindar, becomes convinced that the jewel is somehow linked to the fate of his former love, Celia Lamprey …

Katie Hickman and Michelle Lovric will be collaborating on an event at the Edinburgh Book Festival this year, talking about how to approach writing about Venice. They’ll also be performing together at the Ilkley Festival in October.


June books

Victoria Glendinning, Flight

Katie Hickman, The Pindar Diamond

Annie Proulx, That Old Ace in the Hole

smoked plague letter

portrait of Michelle
by Lily Linke


May 2010


Michelle Lovric was interviewed by Jenni Murray for Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour . They discussed holy anorexia, anthropodermic bibliopegy, the Venetian islands of the mad and disinfected plague mail – all part of the plot of The Book of Human Skin. 


During the interview, Jenni Murray handled this letter sent from plague-ridden Istanbul to Venice in 1789. It has been sprinkled with vinegar and smoked to prevent contamination. It’s now known that plague cannot in fact be transmitted by paper. But dried, powdered smallpox scabs can be used to infect someone even after decades.  


Reviews of The Book of Human Skin


“A witty, exciting, over-the-top page-turner which becomes increasingly addictive…“Quite unlike anything else around – and all the better for that.” John Harding, Daily Mail

“Rich, involving and brilliantly imagined.” Fanny Blake, Woman and Home Magazine

 “If it doesn’t scoop all the prizes, we live in an unjust world. It’s an absolute corker…It’s years since I enjoyed a novel this much – or felt such strong envy of an author for having the breadth and richness of imagination to create such a world.” AN Wilson, Reader’s Digest

“This is, essentially, a love story told by a delightfully riotous collection of characters and voices…Fantastically gripping.” Eithne Farry, Marie Claire

 “Colourful, intoxicating and brutal.”  She Magazine

“A fiendishly gripping plot full of comically sadistic twists and turns.” Tina Jackson, Metro

“I  cracked open The Book of Human Skin with the same frisson of apprehension and attraction that I remember on first meeting the Brothers Grimm with their cast of mesmerizingly cruel villains, resourceful  heroines, penniless lovers, loyal servants, and the downright mad. You know no good will come of it. The best you can hope for—given a stage set with poison, flaying, torture, and plague—is that luck will intervene somehow and allow good to prevail. But how? I could not stop my fingers from turning the pages of this deliciously horrid tale with its terrors holy and unholy, its pleasures delightful and diabolical, and danger crowding on every side.  But Lovric really saved the greatest surprise for the pages of notes that follow her tale: she is not making this up. Many of what seem like her most extreme and fantastical inventions are – appallingly— derived from the pages of history and our own deeply questionable obsessions, preoccupations, beliefs, and delusions. Disturbing? Certainly.”

Pauline Holdstock, author of Beyond Measure (shortlisted for the 2004 Giller Prize and the Commonwealth Prize)

And there’s an extended review by Jill Murphy on the Bookbag website




Wellcome Collection | 10 June–26 September 2010


This year, the subject of the Wellcome’s summer exhibition is SKIN.


Events range from lively talks, discussions and activities on topics such as tattoos, the facts behind the hype of popular skin products, to a major symposium on nudity and a performance event on skin’s elasticity by Amsterdam’s the PARS Foundation.

Michelle Lovric will be presenting several events based around her novel, The Book of Human Skin.

For full events details, see the Wellcome Collection’s website



In its very first week of publication, Louise Berridge’s touching, pacy novel, Honour and the Sword (see APRIL news) entered The Sunday Times' Bestseller List for hardback fiction at number 10. Read more about Louise’s success here.

Louise Berridge’s website


Simon Mawer, a member of English Writers in Italy, has been shortlisted for the new and prestigious Water Scott prize for his novel, The Glass Room, which was also shortlisted for the Man Booker prize.




The actress Lucy Scott is currently recording an audio edition of The Undrowned Child for release in June by Oakhill Publishing.

Lucy Scott trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama, London. Her theatre credits include ‘The Dice House’ (Arts Theatre), ‘Emma’ (Tricycle), ‘Things we do for love’, ‘Quartermaine’s Terms’ (tours); ‘Time and the Conways’ (Salisbury Playhouse); ‘The Tempest’ (Orange Tree), ‘Mansfield Park’ (Crucible, Chichester and tour); ‘Beau Jest’, ‘ While the Sun Shines’(Birmingham Old Rep);’The Odd Women’ ‘Private Lives’ (Manchester Royal Exchange); ‘The Seagull’, ‘Enemy of the People’ (Theatr Clwyd) Television includes ‘Pride and Prejudice’ (BBC2), ‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays’, ‘Hearts and Bones’, ‘Sunny’s Ears’, ‘Inspector Lynley Mysteries’, ‘Mrs David – a life in recipes’, ‘Rosemary and Thyme’. She also performs, dramaturgs and directs children’s plays for ‘Scene and Heard’ Theatre company.


Michelle Lovric will be taking part in the Southwark Schools Reading Festival with an event at the Dulwich Picture Gallery on Thursday June 17th at 1pm. She will be explaining how her own childhood in Australia came to influence the creation at The Undrowned Child, her Venetian novel for children.



Tel: 07770 347 616 or 01797 364 366

Fax: 0208 659 9191


New writing


Michelle Lovric has posted a blog about the moment she decided to write The Book of Human Skin on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure website, April 3rd


She has posted another ABBA blog on May 3rd, this time about the tragic decapitation of Signor Rioba in Venice on the night before May 1st, with a follow-up on May 4th.



And she’s written the diary entry for the English Writers in Italy website for April. It’s about a washing powder called la Suora, the nun.



Venice news

There’s an interview with Michelle Lovric on the Fictional Cities website, in which she explains what she would do if she were mayor of Venice for a day.

Bookings are now open for the Michelle Lovric’s Venice in Peril Summer Lecture on Bajamonte Tiepolo. See Venice in Peril website





May books

Nick Green’s wonderfully ingenious novel, The Cat Kin, comes out with Strident on June 2. It’s technically for children, but any lover of cats, obscure martial arts and good writing will thoroughly enjoy this book.


Cat Kin was shortlisted for the Bolton Book Award. It’s also been featured on BBC Radio 4.


What’s it about?


Ben and Tiffany never expected their after-school gym class to be like this. For Mrs Powell teaches pashki, a lost art from an age when cats were worshipped as gods.


But who is their eccentric old teacher? What does she really want with them? And why are they suddenly able to see in the dark?


They are going to need all of their nine lives...



Other May books

Amanda Craig, Love in Idleness

Hans Fallada, Alone in Berlin

Ross Raisin, God’s Own Country

Amy Sackville, The Still Point

Flora Tristan, Peregrinations of a Pariah

Rudolf Bell, Holy Anorexia

Samuele Romanin, Storia Documentata di Venezia, 1912 edition

Dennis Romano, The aftermath of the Querini-Tiepolo conspiracy in Venice, Stanford Italian Review, 1987

Dennis Romano, Gender and the Urban Geography of Renaissance Venice

Journal of Social History, Vol. 23, No. 2 (Winter, 1989), pp. 339-353

La Congiura delli Querini dalla Ca' Grande di S. Mattio di Rialto, e Bajamonte Tiepolo da Sant'Agostino con alcuni Badoeri fu per diverse cause ordinata,Venezia, 1797

Mrs Oliphant, The Makers of Venice, 1887

Vittorio Lazzarini, Aneddoti della congiura Quirini-Tiepolo, 1895

William Carew Hazlitt, History of the Venetian republic: her rise, her greatness, and her civilization, London, 1860

Francis Cotterell Hodgson, Venice in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries: a sketch of Venetian history from the conquest of Constantinople to the accession of Michele Steno A.D. 1204-1400, London, 1910.


April news

Publishing news


The Book of Human Skin is published by Bloomsbury on April 5th and by Penguin Canada on June 8th.

It is reviewed by Jeff Cotton at the Fictional Cities website here.

An extended interview about The Book of Human Skin, will be posted on the literary blog Words Unlimited on April 1st and subsequently archived at Author Interviews.

An amusing spoof article about books bound in human skin.

And for German-speakers, there’s a nice recommendation for The Undrowned Child on YouTube.




This unsigned painting, in the style of John Ruskin, entitled 'The Passing Of Rose La Touche over Oxford' was entered for auction on March 5th by Biddle & Webb in Birmingham.


Michelle Lovric will be presenting a paper,

The Novelist's Baiamonte Tiepolo: 'The Lure of a Column of Infamy

at a conference to mark the 700th anniversary of


Baiamonte Tiepolo: history, images, stories

1310 – 2010  

12 April,17.30pm, at the Aula Magna of the Ateneo Veneto

Participants: Michele Gottardi, Michelle Lovric, Giandomenico Romanelli and Alberto Toso Fei

New writing

Michelle Lovric has written about the Google Book Settlement and production values in books on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure on March 5th .

Her next ABBA blog is on April 3rd and she’ll also be doing the April diary entry for the English Writers in Italy website for April. It’s about a washing powder called la Suora.


Venice news

Maurizio Crema, journalist at the Gazzettino, presented his new book at the Italian Bookshop in London on March 24. Sulle ali del leone, a vela da Venezia a Corfù navigando sulle rotte della Serenissima tells the story of his voyage under sail from Venice to Corfu, along coasts that were once part of Venice’s empire, and which still show its influence, both in the physical fabric of the towns, and in the attitudes of the people.

Living art. An unusual idea - a walk-through gallery of 15 paintings by Canaletto, Carlevaris, Guardi and Turner, accompanied by the music of Vivaldi, the sound of water, dogs barking,  gondoliers calling. See a sample here.




Exhibition of paintings by the architect Carlo Giuliani

at the Casinò di Venezia , 25.03.2010 - 25.03.2010



Bookings are now open for the Michelle Lovric’s Venice in Peril Summer Lecture on Bajamonte Tiepolo. See Venice in Peril website. 

April books

A.L. Berridge, Honour and the Sword

Paul Dowswell. Auslander

Colm Toibin, Brooklyn

Kashuo Ishiguro, Nocturnes

Disegni inediti dell’Ottocento Veneziano

Giuseppe Tassini, Edifici di Venezia distrutti o volti ad uso diverso

Matt Haig, The Dead Fathers Club

F.C. Hodgson, Venice in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries, 1910

Mrs Oliphant, The Makers of Venice, 1887

Giuseppe Fort, Storia Veneziana del ‘300

Don F. Martinez de la Rosa, La Congiura di Bajamonte Tiepolo in Venezia

  March 2010


Advance reviews for The Book of Human Skin to be published by Bloomsbury on 5 April:

This book is fabulous - funny, horrific, subversive - in short a wholly addictive read.  I don't think I have enjoyed anything as much since Perfume.

Joanne Harris

The Book of Human Skin is Michelle Lovric’s fourth novel for adults, I am eager to read her backlist on the strength of it … the storytelling is superb … The Book of Human Skin feels epic in scope and has rich historical detail, while the narrative is cleverly handled with multiple viewpoints. Really a fantastic read, which does get under the skin.

Emma Giacon, Book content manager, Amazon


Forthcoming book: A.L. Berridge, Honour and the Sword

When Michelle Lovric was assigned this book for a structural edit by The Writers’ Workshop, she immediately recognised that it was something very special. So did literary agent Victoria Hobbs of A.M. Heath. So did Penguin. The first book in the Honour and the Sword series will be published on 15 April.


Michelle Lovric will be presenting a paper,

The Novelist's Baiamonte Tiepolo: The Lure of a Column of Infamy

at a conference to mark the 700th anniversary of the foiled conspiracy of Baiamonte Tiepolo:


Baiamonte Tiepolo: history, images, stories

1310 – 2010  
11 March, 17.30pm, at the sala del Consiglio, Ca' Corner

Participants: Giuseppe Gullino, Gherardo Ortalli, Amalia Basso

and Nelli-Elena Vanzan Marchini

12 April, 17.30pm, at the Aula Magna of the Ateneo Veneto

Participants: Michele Gottardi, Michelle Lovric, Giandomenico Romanelli and Alberto Toso Fei

At left, detail of a painting of Bajamonte Tiepolo’s Column of Infamy,
by Kaitlin Zorah

Michelle Lovric’s website has been selected for preservation by the National Library of Australia.


New writing

Michelle Lovric has written about the campaign to resurrect the Column on Infamy on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure Her next ABBA blog is on 4 March.



Bookings are now open for the Michelle Lovric’s Venice in Peril Summer Lecture on Bajamonte Tiepolo. See Venice in Peril website.


Venice news

The San Pantalon Players pantomime Cinderella (see January News) raised more than 3500 euros for Care & Share Italia’s projects in Andhra Pradesh, India.  


March books

Lauren St John, The White Giraffe

Marcus Sedgwick, The Kiss of Death

Susan Price, The Wolf-Sisters

Liz Jensen, The Rapture


  February 2010


Michelle Lovric will deliver this year's
Venice in Peril Summer Lecture
with an introduction by John Julius Norwich

The Royal Geographical Society, 7pm, Tuesday 1 June 2010

 On the eve of its 700th anniversary, Michelle Lovric evokes one of the most dramatic dawns in Venetian history and traces its physical
aftermath in the city.

The Night Venice Nearly Died
The Conspiracy of Bajamonte Tiepolo 1310–2010

It’s midnight on 14 June, 1310, the eve of the Feast of San Vito. The conspirators are gathered at Marco Querini’s palazzo at Rialto. Around the table are Marco and Piero Querini, Marco’s son-in-law Bajamonte Tiepolo and many others. They’re planning to kill Doge Pietro Gradenigo and take over the city. If all goes according to plan, Venice will be theirs just before dawn. The men decide on three separate strikes at the heart of the city. Routes are planned. Strategies are agreed. They embrace, and hurry to their assignations. Unbeknownst to them, there’s a betrayer in their midst …

At left, an artist’s interpretation of Bajamonte Tiepolo’s Column of Infamy,
Kaitlin Zorah McDonough

£20 (£15 for Venice in Peril members)
Please call the office on +44 (0)20 7736 6891 or email

By post: please send a cheque made payable to ‘Venice in Peril’ to Venice in Peril, Hurlingham Studios, Ranelagh Gardens, London SW6 3PA, enclosing a note to specify ‘Summer Lecture June 1st 2010’.  
See Venice in Peril website

Publishing news

The paperback of The Undrowned Child will be out in February 2010.

And the German edition of The Undrowned Child, with the title Melodie der Meerjungfrauen has just been published.

The Mourning Emporium, the sequel to the Undrowned Child, will now be published in November 2010.  


Venice exhibition

The Venice in Peril exhibition has opened at
W. H. Patterson Limited
19 Albemarle Street London W1S 4BB
T: 020 7629 4119
M: 07767 824245

The exhibition  runs from Wednesday 13th January to Friday 5th February 2010

At left, The Sunlit Altar, Santa Maria della Salute, by Peter Kelly


New writing

Michelle Lovric has done a post on Escaping the 20th  Century on the Awfully Big Blog Adventure website.

February books

Colum McCann, Let the Great World Spin

Iain Fenlon, Piazza San Marco

Susan Price, The Sterkarm Kiss

Emily Diamand, Flood Child



Pantomime in Venice

January 2010

Oh Yes It is! An English Pantomime in Venice!

Novelist Laurie Graham presents a witty take on Cinderella at the Avogaria Theatre in Dorsoduro, Venice. Her characters include Septicemia and Salmonella (pictured left), the lovely daughters of Botulina, Cinderella’s step-mother; the bailiff’s men, Dewey, Fleeceham and Howe; a Magpie, a Fox, Silk Moths, Glow Worms and two surprise guest celebrities. Pietro Ferri makes his long-awaited return to the stage as Madame Papillon, the dance teacher.
‘Otherwise,’ as the author says, ‘it’s a pretty standard production of Cinderella.’

The performance dates are
Jan 14 @ 10.30am & 7.30pm,
Jan 15 @ 7.30pm
Jan 16 @10.30am
Free admittance; exit collection in aid of Care & Share Italia.
Reservations are NECESSARY – please email
or telephone +39 0415 226 249.

Closest vaporetti are Ca Rezzonico or San Basili.

Laurie Graham’s latest novel, Life According to Lubka, comes out in paperback early next year.


The Undrowned Child  

In the Reader's Digest Christmas Issue, Dec 2009, A N Wilson writes:

I would recommend The Undrowned Child by Michelle Lovric. This is the sort of book that is labelled "for children" but that will be passed round the eager family. If you like ghost stories, books set in Venice or being scared stiff – especially by sharks –this is the book for you. And if you think you don't fall into those categories, you will still find yourself gripped, it is so well written.

Teodora comes to Venice aged 11 with her scientist parents in 1899. But she is adopted: she is really a baby who was lost in a foggy accident on the Venetian lagoon. From there, Teodora's adventures, with a marvellously insouciant and snooty boy called Renzo, include forming an alliance with mermaids, wrestling with sharks and fighting off the most sinister magician since Voldemort. Crammed with history, fantasy and beautiful comedy, this book gets a five-star rating.

The Undrowned Child has been longlisted for the Lancashire Book of the Year 2010.

A short video based on Michelle Lovric’s Carnevale has been posted on YouTube.

Cow stampede  

New writing

Michelle Lovric has done a post about writers facing the recession for
An Awfully Big Blog Adventure for December 8th.

And watch out for Minou, the new Venetian cat of the month, on
The Undrowned Child website.

Tears of Venice

Tears for Venice

In a blog post for ABBA in November 2009 Michelle Lovric wrote about a woman who was wearing crystal earrings she described as ‘Tears for Venice’ at the funeral that was staged for the city on November 14th. This is in fact the real name of those earrings. They are made for the association Venezia Civiltà Anfibia, which proposes to build up a consensus of individuals along with Italian and foreign associations, to support Venice and the human rights of her citizens to continue to live in their island context.

From the Venezia Civiltà Anfibia manifesto:

'When the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan, the West was horrified, but what is happening to Venice is much worse. The political and cultural mismanagement is destroying our amphibious civilization, which is unique in the world, and forcing the inhabitants to move to the mainland. But a city without citizens is not a city. Venice weeps for her lost citizens … the Tears of Venice are a sign of love and concern for the fate of this rare and precious gift to humanity, which could not continue to exist without its population.
In 1848, Venice, after the long siege, prostrated by hunger and cholera, surrendered to the Austrians. Then the Italian women of the liberal middle classes wore pendants of beads, symbolic tears for the fate of Venice, abandoned to her fate by all the powers of Europe.
And once again, today, Venice cannot be left alone.'

The Venezia Civiltà Anfibia website has more details and explains how to join the society.


    Only a dog mans the edicola

Venetians really are disappearing. This edicola in Santa Maria Formosa appears to be manned only by a depressed-looking dog.


January books

Frank Gibson, Superstitions about Animals, London, 1904
Mikhail Bulgakov, The Heart of a Dog
Harrison Rhodes, Venice of Today and Yesterday, 1936
Theodore Roosevelt, Hunting the Grisly and Other Sketches, 1893
Lieut.-Col Newnham-Davis and Algernon Bastard, The Gourmet’s Guide to Europe, 1902
Tudy Sammartini, Venice from the Bell Towers
Susan Price, The Sterkarm Handshake
Tiziana Plebani, ed, Storia di Venezia città delle donne

Kelly Morrison's photo of the Undrowned Child

We live beyond ourselves in air

December 2009

The Undrowned Child has been nominated for the 2009 Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards for Fantasy/Science Fiction.

Photographer Kelly Morrison has produced this beautiful image of The Undrowned Child. See more of her work on FLICKR.


Reminder: Michelle Lovric is a judge for The Brit Writers’ Awards. The organisers are looking for the UK's best undiscovered writers of novels, stories, poems and songs. The competition closes December  18th.


Young artist Kaitlin Zorah McDonagh lives and works in Venice. She’s scored a coup with simultaneous shows in New York and Venice during October. The waters of the Grand Canal and Venetian lagoon inspire and influence her fluid, lively paintings.

Left: We Live Beyond Ourselves in Air, 2009, oil on canvas, 100 x 100cm

Below left: What the Sun Does, 2009, oil on canvas, 100 x 100cm

Below centre: His Visits Home, 2009, oil on canvas, 40 x 40cm

Below right: Alberoni, 2009, oil on canvas, 180 x 135cm


What the sun does   His visits homeAlberoni

Funeral for Venice

War Fare

Can it be about me?


New writing

To continue the artistic theme, there’s a new Venetian Cat of the Month on The Undrowned Child website. Red-haired Van Gogh rules in oriental splendour in his palatial shop in San Barnaba. Follow the links through the Cat section of the site to Venetian Cats and then Venetian Cat of the Month for December.

Michelle Lovric has done a post on Golems for An Awfully Big Blog Adventure on November 12th and another one on Venice’s Funeral on November 22nd.


New study opportunity in Venice

Applications are invited for the Vittore Branca International Center for the Study of Italian Culture, a new international resource for humanities studies aimed at young researchers and expert scholars interested in furthering their knowledge in a field of Italian civilisation: the visual arts, history, literature, music, drama.

Two main categories of researchers are eligible to attend the Vittore Branca Center: Junior, i.e. postgraduate students studying for a master’s degree, doctorate or specialization and Ph.D. graduates, and Senior, i.e. expert scholars – university lecturers, senior researchers, heads of research centers, writers or artists.

The residential facilities on the Island provide scholars and researchers with the opportunity to work and stay at length on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice at economically reasonable conditions (30 euros a day, including breakfast) in a setting conducive to reflection and intellectual exchanges. A residence situated in the grounds of the Island can accommodate up to 90 scholars, allowing young researchers and expert scholars to enjoy the mutual benefits of working side by side.

Researchers at the Vittore Branca Center will also have privileged access to the Fondazione Giorgio Cini libraries and archives, specialized in the areas of art history, Venetian history, literature, music, dance and theatre, and to the literary, art, drama and music bequests housed in the Foundation.

Moreover, they will have free access to all cultural events (courses, seminars, conferences, exhibitions, concerts, etc.) organized by the Giorgio Cini Foundation. Thus, for example, musicologists can attend seminars of historical studies, while art historians can sit in on seminars on early music: both have the opportunity to explore the broader cultural background to their own work.

Researchers at the Vittore Branca Center will also have free access to a work station with Internet connection, printer, scanner, telephone-fax; an international newspaper library; film and music rooms on the residence premises; advice and information about libraries and archives of the main Venetian institutions.

Lastly, young researchers at the Vittore Branca Center can also benefit from the presence of a tutor who will assist them in becoming familiar with the general set-up on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore and its documentary and artistic heritage. Tutors will also advise researchers on cultural events at the Giorgio Cini Foundation and in the city and will suggest which directors and collaborators in the Foundation’s Institutes and Research Centers can help them with their research projects.

Access to the Vittore Branca Center and all its facilities requires prior admission (see Junior admission and Senior admission) Applications for admission must be drafted according to the appropriate form which can be downloaded.

For the period from June 2010 to May 2011, twelve scholarships amounting to euros 12,500 are available for young students, who are expected to stay permanently in the Vittore Branca Center residence for a period in keeping with the aims of their research project (usually six months). Such research project shall be consistent with the Fondazione Giorgio Cini strategy to open up and make good use of the great store of art and intellectual treasures housed on the Island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice.


December Books

Mira Crouch, War Fare
Mary Hoffman, Mermaid and Chips
Katherine Langrish, Troll Fell
Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall
Morris Gleitzman, Misery Guts
Charles Berg, The Unconscious Significance of Hair, 1951
Caroline Cox, Good Hair Days: A History of British Hairstyling, 1999
J. Pincus, The Hair: Its Treatment in Health, Weakness, and Disease,1882
Montague Summers, The Geography of Witchcraft, Kegan Paul, 1927
Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time
B.A. Jarrin, The Italian Confectioner, London, 1820
Cheryl Moskowitz, Can It Be About Me?

Rose la Touche of Harristown Morrison-Lovric

November 2009

Michelle Lovric is a judge for The Brit Writers’ Awards 2010. The organisers are looking for the UK’s best undiscovered writers of novels, stories, poems and songs. The competition closes December 18. See the Britwriters website.


New writing

Michelle Lovric has done a post on Rose la Touche of Harristown Morrison-Lovric for An Awfully Big Blog Adventure on October 19th.

She’s also done a diary piece about Waterproofing in Venice, on the English Writers in Italy website.


Venice video

For a feast of music and Venetian paintings see this video on You Tube.


November Books

Simon Mawer, The Glass Room
Patrick Ness, The Ask and the Answer
Jane Eagland, Wildthorn
Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson, Water, Tales of Elemental Spirits

Party in the Italian Bookshop

I Segreti del Canal Grande - cover

October 2009

The Undrowned Child was celebrated at the Italian Bookshop in Cecil Court, London, on September 10th. Actress Claire Bloom and poet Geraldine Paine both read from the book. Jeff Cotton, creator of the Fictional Cities website, interviewed Michelle Lovric about writing about Venice.

For the latest reviews of The Undrowned Child, check The Undrowned Child website.

New writing

Michelle Lovric has written a post on topping-out ceremonies for  An Awfully Big Adventure for 23rd  September.


Old Laughs

For a parody of pretentious Venice-speak (and Marks & Spencers) watch this clip (two smaller sections before you get to the Venice dinner party).



The competition "Win a week in Venice learning Italian at the Venice Italian School" gives you the chance to win a trip for 2 to study Italian at the Venice Italian School. The winners will learn or improve their Italian while living Venice the Venetian way. Standard classes in the morning will be followed by "special" ones like rowing a gondola and tasting Venetian cuisine or the wines from the Veneto region. To join the competition, send an email with your name, surname and address before Friday the 6th of November 2009.

October Books

James L. Spates, Ruskin’s Dark Night of the Soul, A Reconsideration of His Mental Illness and their Importance of Accurate Diagnosis for Interpreting His Life Story, from The Journal of Pre-Raphaelite Studies, Spring 2009

Tim Winton, Breath

Joanne M. Ferraro, Nefarious Crimes, Contested Justice, Illicit Sex and Infanticide in the Republic of Venice, 1557 – 1789

Anne Rooney, The Story of Medicine

Sophie Gordon, Noble Hounds and Dear Companions

Gianni Ghirardini, Motti e Detti Veneziani

Alberto Toso Fei, I Segreti del Canal Grande

Caroline Lawrence, The Thieves of Ostia, from The Roman Mysteries series


The Italian Bookshop, Cecil Court, London

Parrot logo

September 2009

The Undrowned Child will be celebrated at an event at the Italian Bookshop in Cecil Court, London, at 6.30pm on September 10th.

Actress Claire Bloom and poet Geraldine Paine will read from the book. Jeff Cotton of the Fictional Cities website will interview the author

See location on Google maps


New writing

Michelle Lovric has posted The Architecture of a Parrot on An Awfully Big Adventure for August 20th and Conjugal and Genre Fidelity for 27th August.

Bertelli CocaCola picture

Bertelli etching


Young Venetian artist

Matteo Bertelli is a young Venetian artist who produces enchanting and fantastical drawings, paintings and etchings of his city and political cartoons like this one depicting the proposed ‘sale’ of Venice to Coca Coca, a subject much in the news this year.

For many more examples of his work, see his excellent website. Contact him at

Bertelli's Venice  Bertelli - Canal view


Abandoned islands of the Venetian lagoon

All the horses of heaven

September books

James Tipton, All the Horses of Heaven/Todos los Caballos del Paraiso, which Alexis Rotella calls a “rare combination of mostly erotic tanka...that at the same time celebrate...the poet’s life in Mexico!” Available through Met Press.

Giorgio and Maurizio Crovato, The Abandoned Islands of the Venetian Lagoon. This book was first published in 1978. The new edition gives an appraisal of the time which has passed since then, as well as presenting a translation into English as a dual language book. Since its launch, it has stimulated the debate about the future of the islands that were abandoned in the early nineteenth century. Whilst some have been restored, such as Lazzaretto Nuovo and La Certosa, others such as Santo Spirito and Madonna dell Monte have deteriorated even further. 

Ten percent of the income from sales in Italy go towards Lazzaretto Nuovo, 10% of the UK sales go to Venice in Peril; 10% of proceeds in the USA go to Save Venice Inc. It is available in bookshops and from San Marco Press.

Lee Jackson, The Welfare of the Dead
Anne Rooney, The Story of Mathematics



August 2009

Latest reviews of The Undrowned Child

Of several fine debuts this year, one of the outstanding new voices for readers in this age group is Michelle Lovric, whose The Undrowned Child appears this month. A mysterious tale set in an alternative historical fantasy Venice – with mermaids – it is gripping, elegant and original.
Daniel Hahn, The Independent on Sunday

Ignoring the old cliché about judging a book by its cover, The Undrowned Child's beautifully-distressed outer sheet promises much about the fairytale within. A sketch of Venice gives way to a mermaid swimming through a turquoise sea, with the book's edges made to look like an ancient volume. And the cover certainly delivers. Michelle Lovric's first children's book reads like a harmonious cross between JK Rowling and Dan Brown - it's a carefully-conceived adventure set in 1800s Venice, where mermaids exist, children can see ghosts and librarians can change into cats. Our young heroine Teo comes to an ailing Venice with her adoptive scientist parents, and learns about her real roots with the help of an old book called The Key To The Secret City. Together with a studious Venetian boy, Teo sets out to save the city from an old enemy. Lovric conjures up a delightfully mystical Venice and two sympathetic heroes in a fast-paced story, with a map and handy historical information, that will have children of all ages hooked.
Kate Whiting, The Press Association

Writers from the Clink Street workshop will be giving readings from their work at Alexandra Park Library on August 14th at 7.30pm.
Readers: Geraldine Paine, Ann Vaughan-Williams, Carol DeVaughn, Mavis Gregson and Michelle Lovric.
Alexandra Park Library, Alexandra Park Road, N22 7UJ


New writing

Michelle Lovric wrote a post called 'That Obscure Egret of my Desire' for An Awfully Big Blog Adventure on July 25th.







Simon Mawer, a member of the English Writers in Italy, has been long-listed for this year’s Man Booker prize. His novel, The Glass Room, is published by Little, Brown. For more about the book, see and




August Books

  • Pope Brock, Charlatan
  • Samuele Constantini, La Scuola del Mare
  • Carlo Lucarelli, Day after Day
  • Adam Mars-Jones, Pilchrow
  • Lee Jackson, London Dust
  • Andrew Wynter, Our Social Bees; or, Pictures of Town & Country Life, and other papers, 1865
  • Lucio Sponza, Italian Immigrants in Nineteenth Century Britain: Realisties and Images
  • Charles G. Harper, Southwark Past and Present
  • Reverend Charles Maurice Davies, Mystic London: or, Phases of Occult Life in the Metropolis, 1875
  • Peter Underwood, Haunted London, 1973
  • Dr D.G. Storms, Anglo-Saxon Magic, 1948
  • Charles G. Harper, Queer Things about London, 1923
  • Priscilla Metcalf, Victorian London, 1972
  • Eric Partridge, A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, 1937
  • J.H.G Grattan and Charles Singer, Anglo-Saxon Magic and Medicine, 1952
  • H.B. Baker, Stories of the Streets of London, 1899



July 2009

New children’s book and website

The Undrowned Child is published by Orion on July 2nd. is now up and running.

Latest reviews of The Undrowned Child

'I think that it'll turn out to be easily the best Venice-set novel of the year … This is as spooky as you'd expect from a supernatural tale for young adults/older children, but with charm and humour too. If I'd read this book as a child I think that my passion for Venice would've come that much quicker. Citing the names of Potter and Pullman is not inappropriate, but not as a marketing ploy so much as an appreciation of the rare skillfor combining magic and humanity so that the reader is left with his collies wobbled and his heart warmed.'
Jeff Cotton,

'A captivating magical fantasy in a secret watery underworld, The Undrowned Child tells how eleven year old Teodora is swept into the storybook world of invisible children whose task is to save the dying city of Venice. Working alongside the mermaids Theodora’s task is immense. Together can they save the city before the water destroys it? With lyrical writing and an unputdownable plot this is something very special.'
Julia Eccleshare,

The Undrowned Child has a marvellous story and is bound with a love of Venice. But what really distinguishes from what could have been an author's vain attempt to write about Venice is the colourful language and detail. The mermaid have learnt English from pirates and like curry, the nuns see ghosts, the evil takes revenge on the bakers souring their pastries while poisoning tourists with mint ice-cream - no doubt a dig at the poor quality gelato served in St Mark's Square compared to the good stuff hidden in the back streets. There are also a few sly digs at the Biennale art festival and Venetians' open snobbishness to any foreigner, Italians included. Although aimed at a 'young adult' audience - meaning children over ten - it seems certain the depth of the storyline will lead it on Harry Potter's successful quest into the adult market.
Daniel Barnes,


Michelle Lovric will be discussing her Orange Prize-listed novel The Remedy with the SE1 Book Club at the Britannia pub in Kipling Street on Wednesday July 8th

New writing

Michelle Lovric supplied a Venice parable for An Awfully Big Blog Adventure June 30th

July Books

  • Patrick Ness, The Knife of Never Letting Go
  • Rough Guide, Venice and the Veneto
  • Catherine Johnson, A Nest of Vipers


June 2009

Michelle Lovric’s fourth novel for adults, The Book of Human Skin (Bloomsbury, 2010) will be published in Canada by Penguin.

There’s a Bookbag review of Michelle Lovric’s forthcoming novel, The Undrowned Child and an interview with the author here.

Michelle Lovric has written a diary piece about Enrico Dandolo’s gravestone for the English Writers in Italy website June edition.

and a guest blog about Disinfected Mail on

Patricia Guy of English writers in Italy has already read The Undrowned Child : see her busy Diary at

Michelle Lovric will be discussing her Orange Prize-listed novel The Remedy with the SE1 Book Club at the Britannia pub in Kipling Street on Wednesday July 8th

June Books

  • Laurie Graham, Life According to Lubka
  • Carol J. Adams, The Sexual Politics of Meat
  • Sebastian Barry, The Secret Scripture
  • Kate Thompson, Creature of the Night
  • Carol Goodman, The Lake of Dead Languages
  • Sian Busby, A Wonderful Little Girl
  • Morris Gleitzman, Once
  • Rudyard Kipling, Just So Stories
  • Pat Barker, Double Vision


May 2009

Michelle Lovric will be in conversation with the Venetian Writer Tiziano Scarpa at the Circolo Italo Britannico at the Telecom Centre in San Salvador, Venice, at 5.30 on June 1st. She will be reading from The Undrowned Child, which has already received some reviews:

‘a stunning debut novel … Part fairy tale, part historical fiction, this is writing that is alight and alive. Two worlds are held in balance, Venice on the cusp of change, as science exerts an even stronger stranglehold against a deeper, underwater world of myth and mermaids. A beautifully told allegory that captures the power of language, this has definite crossover appeal’ – Jake Hope, Booksellers’ Choice, The Bookseller

'What an amazing sense of place the writer establishes - Venice is really the central character! The cast of characters too is fresh and quite extraordinary - how I loved those mermaids and their way of life. I didn't put it down as the story sweeps on with such speed and wonder that there's no place to stop.' - Wendy Cooling, children's book consultant.

‘This sumptuous Venetian adventure is the first novel for children by Lovric, author of Carnevale. It’s a Potter-esque 424 pages … but a great romp for more literary readers’ – Fiona Noble, Children’s Previews, The Bookseller.

‘An amazing urban fantasy for children’ – LibraryThing website

The Undrowned Child will be published by Orion on July 2nd, 2009.

May Books

  • George Ferguson, Signs & Symbols in Christian Art
  • Martha Grimes, The Train Now Departing
  • Eric Partridge, A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English, London, 1937
  • Liz Kessler, The Emily Windsnap series
  • Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book


    Mary Hoffman, author of the acclaimed Stravaganza books, has a new blog about books and the publishing industry:

    So many quotes about writing … so few about reading, but here's one:

    ‘Readers may be divided into four classes:
    1. Sponges, who absorb all they read, and return it nearly in the same state, only a little dirtied.
    2. Sand-glasses, who retain nothing, and are content to get through a book for the sake of getting through the time.
    3. Strain-bags, who retain merely the dregs of what they read.
    4. Mogul diamonds, equally rare and valuable, who profit by what they read, and enable others to profit by it also.

  • Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), English poet and critic
  • On Readers, Lectures, 1811-12, Poems and Prose


April 2009

April Books

  • Rome Noir, edited by Maxim Jakubowski and Chiara Stangalino
    A book of short stories that really get under the skin. Each story is set in a different quarter of the ancient city. It includes stories from Antonio Scurati, Carlo Lucarelli, Gianrico Carofiglio, Diego De Silva, Giuseppe Genna, Marcello Fois, C.D. Formetta, Enrico Franceschini, Boosta, Francesca Mazzucato, Evelina Santangelo, Nicola LaGioia, Tommaso Pincio, Antonio Pascale, and Nicoletta Vallorani.

  • Geoff Dyer, Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi
    This wonderful book exposes the excess and pretension of the Venice Biennale of art, and then plummets into phantasmagoric Extreme Tourism in the most spiritual of Indian cities. Illuminating, unfearing and very funny.

  • James Tipton’s new book of poetry is called Washing Dishes in the Ancient Village and includes short poems, in Spanish and English, set in Mexico and Latin America. Here are two examples:
  • A woman at last!
    Tonight, Old Moon,
    you will have to sleep alone.

    In every country
    there are good things to eat
    and good people to love


    (Venice 1915 – 1918. Images of the City in Time of War).

    Cassa di Risparmio di Venezia, Campo San Luca , finishes 20 April 2009

    Cassa di Risparmio di Venezia, Campo San Luca , finishes 20 April 2009 This exhibition includes fascinating maps of where the bombs fell in Venice, pictures of the city during the black-out and photographs of the ‘home-guard’ aiming their guns at the enemy aircraft from the altane – rooftop terraces – where women used to bleach their hair blonde. There are also ration cards and gas-masks from the period.

    Planning a visit to Venice? The new Venice tourism site is now available in English. On you can avoid queues by booking in advance all kinds of tickets for public transport, museums and even public toilets or carparking. There are discounts for buying online for most things. The only downside: you need to book at least fifteen days in advance of travel, and then your tickets can only be collected from the airport, Tronchetto, Santa Lucia Station or Piazzale Roma during the opening hours stated on the site. According to the Comune, the tickets will definitely be at the right place at the right time … fifteen days notice should be enough. Hopefully this aspect will be streamlined, eventually.

The convent of Santa Catalina
in Arequipa, Peru


March 2009


Michelle Lovric’s fourth novel, The Book of Human Skin, will be published by Bloomsbury in April 2010

The Book of Human Skin is a story of unmitigated villainy, Holy Anorexia, quack medicine, murder, love and a very unusual form of bibliomania.

Midday, 13th May, 1784: An earthquake in Peru tears up the white streets of Arequipa. As the dust settles, a young girl with fanaticism already branded on her face arrives at the devastated convent of Santa Catalina. At the same moment, oceans away in Venice, the infant Minguillo Fasan tears his way out of his mother’s womb. The great Palazzo Espagnol, built on Peruvian silver and New World drugs, has an heir.

Twelve years later, Venice is in Napoleon’s sights and Minguillo, who has already contrived to lose one sibling, is listening to the birth-cries of his new sister Marcella, a delicate, soft-skinned threat to his inheritance. Meanwhile, at Santa Catalina, the scarred young girl has become Sor Loreta, whose craving for sainthood is taking a decidedly sinister turn.

Minguillo’s livid jealousy will condemn his sister to a series of fates as a cripple, a madwoman and a nun. But Marcella Fasan is not quite the soft target Minguillo imagines. Aided by a loyal servant, an irascible portrait-painter, a young doctor obsessed with skin, a warhorse of a Scottish merchant and a cigar-smoking pornographer nun, Marcella pits her sense of humour, her clever pencil and her fierce heart against Minguillo’s pitiless machinations. Her journey takes her from Napoleon’s shamed Venice to the last picaresque days of colonial Peru – where the fanatical Sor Loreta has plans of her own for the young girl from Venice …

March Books

  • Thompson, Lawrence S, Religatum de pelle humana, 1949
  • Bost, Suzanne, Mulattas and Mestizas, 2005
  • Anonymous, Naked Truth and the Human Skin, 1857
  • Markwick, Alfred,A Description of the Structure and Functions of the Human Skin, 1847
  • Preece, Rod, Sins of the Flesh: a History of Ethical Vegetarian Thought, 2008
  • Laden, Alice,George Bernard Shaw's Vegetarian Cook Book, 1971
  • Wieringa, Saskia,The admonishment of the Vegetarian Great Aunt, 2007
  • Hart, Samuel Hopgood, Food and Character, 1928
  • Gregory, James, Dr,Of Victorians and Vegetarians: the Vegetarian Movement in Nineteenth-century Britain, 2007


February 2009

The Venetian writer Tiziano Scarpa is winning ecstatic reviews for his beautiful novel, Stabat Mater (Einaudi, available from The Italian Bookshop in Cecil Court). His protagonist is Cecilia, a 16-year-old violinist at the Ospedale della Pietà in Venice, where the composer Vivaldi takes the post of music-master – and changes her life and career forever.



Wednesday 14 January 2009 to Friday 6 February 2009 at the W.H. Patterson gallery

19, Albemarle Street, London. W1S 4BB.
Tel 0207 248 3824 Fax 0207 499 0119

The exhibition can be previewed on the website

Venetian Road by Lionel Aggett and Blue Carpet by Keith Dunkley, reproduced by kind permission of the W.H. Patterson gallery

February Books

  • Eire, Carlos M.N., From Madrid to Purgatory, 1995
  • Scarpa, Tiziano, Stabat Mater, Einaudi, 2009
  • William Sansom, Christmas
  • Ghosh, Amitav, Sea of Poppies, 2008
  • Sister Mary ODC, editor, Living Waters, Daily Readings with St Teresa of Avila, 1985

Recommended Websites - beautiful silver objects with an architectural flavour - Food and wine writer Patricia Guy now has a monthly blog


January 2009

The Go-Away Bird is the first collection of poetry by Geraldine Paine, one of the writers in the Clink Street Workshop. It is just out from Lapwing Publications. Sheenagh Pugh praises the range of voices that Geraldine Paine - actress, writer, magistrate - brings to this collection: 'rich, elegiac, yet more keenly aware of "now" than clinging to "then". '


The Dante Alighieri Institute of Venice will be offering various Italian language in 2009. or

January Books

  • Stephen Croad, Liquid History, The Thames Through Time
  • Bevis Hillier, Greetings from Christmas Past
  • William Sansom, Christmas
  • Richard Davey, A History of Mourning
  • Thomas Lynch, The Undertaking, Life Studies from the Dismal Trade (Cape, 1997)
  • Carlos M.N. Eire, From Madrid to Purgatory: The Art and Craft of Dying in Sixteenth-Century Spain (Cambridge University Press, 1995)
  • Emily Cheney Neville, It's Like This, Cat
  • Karel Capek, I Had a Dog (George Allen & Unwin, 1940)
  • Raymond Chandler, Selected Letters of Raymond Chandler, ed Frank MacShane (Cape, 1981)
  • R.H. Dana, The Seaman’s Manual (revised and corrected by John J. Mayo) (Ward, Lock & Co)
  • H.C. Folkard, The Sailing Boat: A Treatise on English and Foreign Boats (Longman, Green, Longman, & Roberts, 1863)
  • T.C. Lethbridge, Boats and Boatmen (Thames & Hudson, 1952)
  • Alan Moore, Last Days of Mast & Sail: An Essay in Nautical Comparative Anatomy (Clarendon Press, 1936)
  • John Morley, Death, Heaven and the Victorians (Studio Vista, 1971)
  • H. Warington Smith, Mast and Sail in Europe and Asia (John Murray, 1906)
  • Edmund Vale, The Way of Ships (Country Life Limited, 1938)
  • January Websites


December 2008


One of the Borough Market’s historic pubs is the inspiration forThe Wheatsheaf RIP, a book of portraits of its modern patrons captured by acclaimed photographer John Ross, who lives nearby. One hundred and sixty-five Whatseaf regulars made their way to his studio in Clink Street for photographic sessions.

Thameslink’s building works will close the Wheatsheaf in January for an unconfirmed period. When it reopens, it will be under a new railway viaduct.

The book will benefit local charity Kids. All those involved in it gave their services free. Jonathan Ellery, founder of Browns in Plantain Place, designed the layouts, FF Smith in Marlborough Grove supplied the paper, and Moore Print in Old Jamaica Road did the production.

The Wheatsheaf RIP (Browns Editions £25) is available from Paul Smith in Park Street

Cecil Court

The Guide for People who Love Books and London.

Michelle Lovric has written a personal introduction for a new book about Britain’s most famous street of antiquarian book, map and ephemera shops. This beautifully-illustrated guidebook, written by Maria Grazia Marinowith photographs Saverio Paffumi, contains interviews with the owners of the shops and highlights some astonishing items of their stock. The author also presents a meditation on the two kinds of people who inhabit the world: ‘those for whom books are everything, and those for who they do not even exist.’

Kilo’s killer brought to justice.

On October 23rd, a 16-year-old girl was convicted of animal cruelty after drowning a ship's cat in the River Thames. The girl, who cannot be named for legal reasons, threw the cat from the gang-plank of the HMS Belfast on February 9th 2008. The cat had been adopted from the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.

December Books

  • Richard D. Altick, The Shows of London
  • Peter G Homan, Briony Hudson and Raymond C. Rowe, Popular Medicines, An Illustrated History
  • W.O’Daniels, Ins and Outs of London, 1859
  • Mrs J.E. Panton, Leaves from a Life, 1908
  • Richard Davey, A History of Mourning, 1889
  • Edward Eager, The Time Garden
  • Raimond Gaita, The Philosopher’s Dog
  • British Medical Association, Secret Remedies and More Secret Remedies
  • G.A. Henty, The Young Franc Tireurs and Their Adventures in the Franco-Prussian War


November 2008

The Venetian gondoliers are gathering support for Obama. Here’s their second Youtube video.

If you don't see the video window above click here


Announcing …

Bestagno Olive Oil, a new Social Enterprise Company based in the Borough Market London, with olive groves at Castello di Bestagno, Liguria, Italy, and CareTrade a new registered charity founded to create employment for people with autism.

Bestagno Olive Oil and CareTrade have been created by Katharine Doré and Christopher Allen. Katharine, the mother of a profoundly autistic 15 year old boy, was one of the co-founders of TreeHouse, a charity set up in 1997 in response to the unmet national need for specialist education for children with autism.

In picturesque Bestagno, Liguria, ancient olive terraces fan out from the two isolated towers, all that remains of the area’s 9th-century castle.

Katharine Doré explains, ‘Largely abandoned after the Second World War, the olive trees, many of which are over 500 years old, were covered with canopies of ivy and brambles when we first saw them. The terraces were crumbling and many of the trees had not been pruned since the village elders were children. The stunning landscape and immense potential of the land made us determined to put together a grove of over 3000 trees.

‘We became aware of the need to create proper work opportunities for people with autism and indeed work experience for school children with autism when we were thinking about the future for our boy Toby who has profound autism. Christopher and I decided to buy and restore an olive farm in Liguria to create a work-based environment for Toby’s future. This idea developed into creating an olive oil business in order to create proper work for people with autism and work experience opportunities for school children.

‘We recognised that along with the olive oil company, which will be a social enterprise company and not for profit, we needed a registered charity. This way we could broaden the scope of what we wanted to do and work with all sorts of local companies to create work for people with autism.

‘People on the autistic spectrum vary greatly in their abilities both in terms of communication and their ability to simply ‘take part’. However their needs are similar to the rest of the population - a desire to be happy and productive, to be a part of a community where their contribution is valued, to have social and recreational lives, safe and appropriate accommodation and to be loved and valued as individuals.’

November Books

  • Michael Chabon, Summerland
  • Thomas Archer, The Terrible Sights of London, 1870
  • Edmund Yates, The Business of Pleasure, 1879
  • W. J. Gordon, The Horse World of London, 1893
  • James Payn, Lights and Shadows of London Life, 1867
  • James Greenwood, The Seven Curses of London, 1869
  • Henry Mayhew and John Binny, The Criminal Prisons of London and Scenes of London Life (The Great World of London) 1862

  October 2008

The gondoliers of Venice are doing their bit towards the American elections. Here Robertino Nardin delivers a musical message, with Moreno Mainardi rowing, and Diego Tagliapetra filming.

If you don't see the video window above click here

While everyone's eyes are on the controversial Calatrava Bridge, it seems that the most iconic bridge in Venice has problems of its own. The Rialto Bridge is full of holes - and the holes are full of rats. A report in one of Venice's newspapers, La Nuova Venezia, claims that enormous rats have been seen emerging from fissures in the stones of the Bridge. This means that the inner structure has been at least partially excavated to form the tunnels and dens of rodents of 'grosse dimensioni'.


Recommended websites  On this ingenious site you can see in actual time the traffic filmed at 14 telecameras around Venice. Each view is captioned by the number of vessels ('natanti') exceeding the speed limit.

October Books
Michael Chabon The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
Kate Summerscale The Suspicions of Mr Whicher
Charles F. Walker, Smoldering Ashes : Cuzco and the creation of Republican Peru, 1780-1840
Charles F. Walker, Shaky colonialism : the 1746 earthquake-tsunami in Lima, Peru, and its long aftermath



  September 2008
Buzz, the 2008 Templar Press anthology, will feature poems by three writers from the Clink Street workshop, Pamela Johnson, Geraldine Paine and Sue Ehrhardt . All three will be reading from their works in the anthology at the Derwent Literary Festival in October. Geraldine Paine has been shortlisted for Canterbury Poet of the Year 2008.

September Books
Philipp Blom To Have and To Hold, An Intimate History of Collectors and Collecting
Michael Chabon The Jewish Policemen’s Union
Hand Luggage Only - The anthology of the shortlisted poems and winners of the 2007 International Sonnet Competition, which includes work by Clink Street writers, Geraldine Paine and Pam Johnson, now available from Amazon.

Recommended websites
Relief from the searing heat of Ferragosto – Venice iced over in 1929. Click here to view the video. Welcome to the blogosphere! Novelist and poet Pam Johnson has just started a blog that muses on the process of writing amid the process of living. A site of cartoons, observations and Veneziana. This cartoon (left) from the site shows a journalist interviewing the architect Santiago Calatrava, whose controversy-dogged bridge is finally supposed to open in the next month. The cartoonist shows a bridge that doubles up on itself and returns to Venice. The architect explains to the interviewer that this is the Mayor’s idea for stopping the depopulation of Venice.


One of Adriana Rocca's Multitudes paintings.

  August 2008
Michelle Lovric was one of the judges of the semi-final round of The Institute of Ideas and Pfizer Debating Matters National Final 2008, held at the Wellcome Trust on July 5th. The subject was ‘Is the West Unfairly Demonising China?’

PETA has offered a reward of £1000 for information leading to the discovery of who drowned HMS’s Belfast’s ship’s cat, Kilo, in February this year. New CCTV footage of the suspects can be seen on the SE1 website.

Recommended websites Adriana Rocca, whose studio is on Giudecca, does wonderful paintings of crowd scenes, in some ways rather reminiscent of Tintoretto's cast-of-thousands apocalypses - except that Adriana Rocca's crowds are from the world over, and gather together serenely. Each individual, even from the back of the head, is someone completely different. The artist was born in Argentina, but has lived in Venice for twelve years. A beautiful French website about paper, fabric and things-in-boxes: many happy hours to be spent reading and admiring this site.

August Books
Nick Green Cat’s Paw
Albertine La Rumeur de Venise
J.C. Brown Carnival Masks of Venice – A Photographic Essay

A vintage quotation
Yes, it is very difficult to believe in Venice, most of all when one is in Venice.
New York Times, December 1, 1901


July 2008
Venice’s Mayor Massimo Cacciari has launched a poster campaign to ask people to drink the excellent tap-water in Venice, thereby avoiding the pollution caused by trucking in bottles of the designer stuff. Michelle Lovric has written a diary piece on this subject for the website of the English Writers in Italy. See

July Books
Junot Diaz The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Liz Jensen The Ninth Life of Louis Drax
Rose Tremain The Road Home

Recommended websites a German artist who works with ink and fingers to create unusual and exquisite art. an archive of private and professional photographs of the terrible flood of 1966

The photograph (see left) from the Album di Venezia archive shows a frightened cat, drenched and trapped by the floodwater. It was taken in Castello by an anonymous photographer on November 4th, 1966.


  June 2008
Reminder, Diary Date
Michelle Lovric will be discussing Venice and writing about Venice with the Venetian author Tiziano Scarpa at the Italian Cultural Institute in London on July 10th. Tiziano’s Venice is a Fish has just been published in English.

Details here
7pm, Thursday 10th July
Tickets £5, free for members
Booking essential on 0207 396 4406

June Books
Edward Leeves Leaves from a Victorian Diary
Rumer Godden Pippa Passes
Baron Corvo The Desire and Pursuit of the Whole
L. & L. M. Ragg Things Seen in Venice
P. B. M. Allan The Book-Hunter at Home
Jules Verne 20,000 Leagues Under the Seas
Cesare Zangirolami Storie delle chiese dei monasteri delle scuole di Venezia rapinate e distrutte da Napoleone Bonaparte


Photographs by Giordano Russo and Aurelia S. Palmarin

    May 2008
Not to miss: Exhibition of mosaics in Venice.
Susan Adams Nickerson’s exhibition of exquisite, poignant mosaics opens on May 10th at the Giudecca 795 gallery.

The artist plays on three themes interwoven by the media of found objects, mosaics, ink and mortar. Venice is evoked in the theme of relics and reliquaries: small precious objects caught in glass. Literature is evoked by words in mosaic form: letters as tesserae, words as painting, and painting as words. The rhythms of the spoken word are preserved, expressing the artist’s conviction that writing is in itself art. Finally, the artist brings into play the nature of her own medium, the mosaic itself: an interplay of colour and texture, light and concealment, and softness and permanence.

Exhibition dates: May 10 – 1 June 2008
Hours of opening: Tuesday to Friday 15.30 – 20.00
Saturday and Sunday 10.00 – 12.00 and 15.30 – 20.00
Closed Mondays. Admission free.

The gallery is located midway between Hotel Hilton Stucky and Harry's Dolci. Take ACTV boat lines 41, 42, or 2 to "Palanca"; at the Palanca boat stop, turn right and walk along the fondamenta. After the Sant' Eufemia bridge, continue to number 795.

Tel (+39) 041 7241182 / (+39) 340 8798327 Fax (+39) 041 989614

Professor Giordano Russo has written this essay on her work.

More jewelled Venice
Last month Vicki Ambery-Smith’s Venetian ring caused quite a stir: so for May another jeweller, this time a native Venetian, whose work features natural forms and symbolic animals and fruits including many that can be found in Venetian paintings. A lizard, for example, is supposed to have the grace and wisdom of a snake without its venom. The pomegranate symbolises the unity of all the separate aspects of the Church, as well as fertility, and also resurrection. The scallop shell is the sign of pilgrimage. The Moor of course features in many places in Venice. There is much debate about the ethnic origins of the classic Venetian Moor, that one finds carved in wood, picked out in jewels, on door handles ('mascaron') all over the town, and of course immortalised in Shakespeare’s Othello. Are they from Morea? Is it Morocco? Or are the Moors of a middle-eastern provenance?

Carla Mattea Piccoli graduated in architecture at the Accademia di Belli Arti di Venezia and has worked in jewellery and graphic design. Since 1994 she’s worked in collaboration with the antiquario Oreste Cagnato, whose Antiquus shops are in San Samuele and San Vio. These jewels, reminiscent of Lalique’s creations but with a definite Venetian flavour, can be seen in the shops. More pictures are available on request from

New hotel in Venice

A beautiful new hotel has opened inside a well-known small palace on the Grand Canal.

Diary date
Michelle Lovric will be discussing Venice and writing about Venice with the Venetian author Tiziano Scarpa at the Italian Cultural Institute in London on July 10th. Tiziano’s Venice is a Fish has just been published in English.

May books
Jerffold M. Packard Farewell in Splendour, The Death of Queen Victoria and her Age.
Charles G. Leland Aradia, or The Gospel of the Witches, 1899

Recommended websites
Italian Cultural Institute

April 2008
Il Contatore dei Veneziani: Venetian-meter
The campaigning group has come up with a piquant way to mark the exodus of native Venetians from their city. On March 21st launched an illuminated digital display in the window of the historic Morelli pharmacy in San Bartolomeo. This display gives the number of Venetians in the city – on that day 60, 704. The display will be updated every week, using figures supplied by the Comune. The population of Venice has declined from a high of 175,000 in 1951.

Venice on your finger
Vicki Ambery-Smith makes extraordinary architectural jewellery. Venice features strongly in her work. Here is her latest ring, which shows the area around the church of Miracoli that was the home of the artist Cecilia Cornaro in Michelle Lovric’s novel Carnevale. Cecilia Cornaro also joined the cast of The Remedy and will make another appearance in the current work-in-progress The Book of Human Skin.
This sequence of photos shows the initial drawings, and then the unburnished work in progress and then the final ring, which is different from each angle.

See more of Vicki Ambery-Smith’s jewellery on her website:

Initial drawings

Work in progress, before the bridges are added.
The finished ring

Seagull Fracas

If you don't see a video window above click here to view the
screaming seagulls video.

There appear to be many names for seagulls in Venice, and several breeds of bird.

Most dominant (vocally at least) are the ‘gabbiani reali’ or ‘royal seagulls. Is this the Yellow-legged gull Larus cacchinnans? The old Venetian name for the huge, aggressive gull is ‘Magòga’ (plural ‘Magòghe’). The word for ‘wizard’ in Italian is ‘Mago’ and some Italian believe that the cold glance of a gull has a magical power.

Then there are the ‘cocai’, singular ‘cocal’. Some sources say that this Venetian name refers to a smaller, less aggressive gull, of a different breed to the Magoghe, perhaps the black-headed gull Larus ridibundus. Others say the ‘cocal’ is merely a youngster of the ‘Magoga’ breed. Yet another source says that it is the masculine of the ‘Magoga’.

So which breed are the Magoghe? And which the smaller birds?
Mediterranean Gull Larus melanocephalus?
Little Gull Larus minutes?
Black-headed Gull Larus ridibundus?
Slender-billed Gull Larus genei?
Common Gull Larus canus?
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus?
Herring Gull Larus argentatus?
Yellow-legged Gull Larus cachinnans ?
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus?
Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla?

If any reader has further information to contribute on this subject, please contact this site.

Meanwhile, William Dean Howells, in his inimitable Venetian Life, speaks of how the seagulls give voice to the full desolation of winter in the town:
...but the only creatures which seemed really to enjoy the weather were the seagulls. These birds, which flock into the city in vast numbers at the first approach of cold, and, sailing up and down the canals between the palaces, bring to the dwellers in the city a full sense of mid-ocean forlornness and desolation, now rioted on the savage winds, with harsh cries, and danced upon the waves of the bitter brine, with a clamorous joy that had something eldritch and unearthly in it.
April Books

Giuseppe Tassini Curiosità Veneziane
Tiziano Scarpa Venice is a Fish
Tiziano Scarpa Corpo

Recommended Websites Venetian website of information, pictures and campaigns (see news above).  Cultural exchange for Venetian scholars. Pioneering a museum of the lagoon. A London-based service offering translation from English, French and Spanish into Italian.


  March 2008
Writing Notes
The Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa, writing in 1983, reflected on the different kinds of relationships that a writer can have with his or her work. The novelist Juan Carlos Onetti once said that the difference between him and me as writers was that I had a matrimonial relationship with literature whereas he had an adulterous relationship with it.

Venetian Curiosities
The parish of San Samuele, which today includes the churches of San Samuele, of Santo Stefano and the deconsecrated San Vidal (left) was the subject of a vulgar song at one time:

Contrada piccola, grande bordel;
Senza ponti, cattive campane,
Omini becchi e donne putane.

Small as it is, it’s a great big brothel
Without bridges, its bells all jangly
The men are cuckolds and the women whores …

Poets from the Clink Street workshop have been recognised this past month. Carol DeVaughn has won second place in the Torriano Poets competition, in which Geraldine Paine was Recommended, and Pam Johnson and Geraldine Paine have been shortlisted in The Open Poetry Sonnet Competition

March Books
Octavio Paz Sor Juana, or The traps of faith. 1988
Stephen Haliczer Between Exaltation and Infamy, 2002
Kathryn Burns Colonial Habits: Convents and the
Spiritual Economy of Cuzco, Peru, 1999
Susan E. Dinan and Debra Meyers (eds)
Women and Religion in Old and New Worlds, 2001
Martin Luis Daughters of the Conquistadores, 1983
Mita Choudhury Convents and Nuns in Eighteenth-century
French Politics and Culture, 2004


Happy New Year! January 1st 2008: the sun catches the
halo of an angel on the church of  San Vidal, Venice. 
Photo: Graham Morrison
  February 2008
Michelle Lovric was interviewed by Daphne Guinness for the Sydney Morning Herald on her research into museums around the world. The piece was published in the January 1st edition. Click here to read it.

A thought-provoking comment on the British book industry by
A.L. Kennedy, on winning the Costa prize for a best novel:
It's such a funny climate at the moment. Getting this does mean you're at least more likely to be in the bookshops. There are greater numbers of a smaller range of books, we are trying to disassemble our culture and normally only an occupying force would do that. I'm more annoyed at things from the point of view of a British reader than a writer.

February Books
Indra Sinha Animal’s People
Linda Newbery Catcall
Hilary Mantel Beyond Black
E.H. Ruddock Homœopathic Vade Mecum Medical & Surgical, 1893
Pierce Egan Real Life In London, Volumes I and II
Or, The Rambles And Adventures Of Bob Tallyho, Esq., And
His Cousin, The Hon. Tom Dashall, Through The Metropolis;
Exhibiting A Living Picture Of Fashionable Characters,
Manners, And Amusements In High And Low Life, 1821
Unknown Sinks of London Laid Open - A Pocket Companion for the Uninitiated, to Which is Added a Modern Flash Dictionary Containing all the Cant Words, Slang Terms, and Flash Phrases Now in Vogue, with a List of the Sixty Orders of Prime Coves, 1848

Recommended Websites
A blog about Victorian London from the excellent novelist and historian Lee Jackson, the creator of, also recommended
Alberto Toso Fei’s site with ghost stories and legends about Venice.


  January 2008
Michelle Lovric has become a consultant editor for The Writers' Workshop which offers manuscript assessment and editorial services to first-time or unpublished novelists and poets. For more details see the website:

Recommended Websites
Award-winning novelist and short-story writer with a fascinating blog.
Wine and food writer and expert on the ladies of Sherlock Holmes.
A new website from the creator of a much- needed English-language guide to Venice's churches.

January Books
Alexei Sayle The Dog-Catcher
Michelle Paver Wolf Brother
Mary Hamer Incest, a new perspective
Phillis Cunnington and Anne Buck
Children’s Costume in England 1300-1900



Click here to read News 2007


children's books  novels  anthologies  non-fiction  venice  the latest  biography contacts