In this magnificent vision of Venice, Peter Ackroyd turns his unparalleled skill at evoking place from London and the River Thames, to Italy and the city of myth, mystery and beauty. He leads us through the history of the city, from the first refugees arriving in the mists of the lagoon in the fourth century to the rise of a great mercantile state and a trading empire, the wars against Napoleon and the tourist invasions of today. There are wars and sieges, scandals and seductions, fountains playing in deserted squares and crowds thronging the markets. And there is a dark undertone too, of shadowy corners and dead ends, prisons and punishment.
We could have no better guide to this most exceptional of cities - reading Ackroyd's Venice is, in itself, a glorious journey and the perfect holiday.
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Yet another wonderful biography of a city - The Independent on Sunday
He is brilliant on beginnings... Ackroyd covers an immense amount of ground with verve and elegance - Independent on Sunday
Ackroyd tells the story well...where he excels is in his descriptions...he writes beguilingly - Guardian
Ackroyd is hugely intelligent and formidably industrious; there can be few people, Venetian or foreign, who know Venice better than he... It is full of good things - Daily Telegraph
Elegant... Interweaving psychogeographical investigation with history, picking out defining characteristics which were present from its earliest days - Scotsman
Peter Ackroyd has the gift of transmuting other men's sober research into the golden sentences that make his books on men and cities so irresistible, entrancing, occasionally weird but undeniably grand...Ackroyd...has turned their diligence into effulgent, mesmeric, satisfying prose - Literary Review
Combative, omnivorous and beady-eyed as ever, the author has no trouble in persuading us, nonetheless, that the 'pure city' is not quite ready to collapse into its primal mud - The Spectator
It is all here, in Ackroyd's dense and articulate prose. He writes in short, sharp sentences, firing out facts with machine-gun speed. He pulls the reader through the city's winding calli on a vivid, frenzied journey of discovery. It is an ever-shifting scenery of stern-faced Dogi, secretive statesman, canny merchants, thieve, whores, artists, geniuses: all jostling for favour in Ackroyd's city of intrigue.... Highly evocative...he writes beautifully and succinctly - The Times
Ackroyd takes an erudite and entertaining look at the city of doges, gondolas, carnival masks and canals - Marie Claire
Ackroyd has managed... to give us a beautifully crafted, ruminative, well-illustrated, and utterly readable volume...vibrant and evocative - History Today
Elegant and erudite - Tatler
Ackroyd's view of Venice is not that of an infatuated lover... but more the magisterial distillation of much knowledge and reading, conveyed in prose that aspires to the glassy elegance of La Serenissima herself - Financial Times, Travel books of the year
Opulent, shimmering prose - The Times, Christmas books
Ackroyd does Venice, his sonorous, scene painting prose advancing in rhythmic columns until no quarter of the city has escaped assimilation. - Guardian
Ackroyd's achievement is to bring the city back to life and help you to experience differently. Take it with you next time you visit. - The Times
His dark tapestry ... deserves a place in every visitor's luggage - Independent
Ackroyd writes about Venice as an idea, with stylish meditations on such topics as time, light, water, sexuality, politics and psychopathology...he writes so well that at times he'd drive you mad - 'Venice represented an idea that was itself eternal' - but if you just climb into his gondola and go where he takes you, the rewards are great indeed - The Irish Times
Many books have been written about Venice by authors like Mary McCarthy and Jan Morris. Ackroyd's advantage is his poetic eye - Sunday Herald
Ackroyd writes beguilingly as he weaves his way around the lagoon, supplying interesting details en route... - The Times
Peter Ackroyd has written acclaimed biographies of Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, Charles Dickens, William Blake, Shakespeare and Thomas More, as well as short books about Chaucer, J.M.W. Turner, Isaac Newton and most recently, Edgar Allen Poe. A bestselling biographer, historian, novelist and broadcaster, he holds a CBE for services to literature. He is the author of London: The Biography and Thames: Sacred River, and lives in London.