2016 Reviews · Australian · contemporary fiction · Italy · romance

Book Review: The Florentine Bridge by Vanessa Carnevale


Book blurb:

Young Australian artist Mia Moretti has been cancer free for nine months. But her battle with the illness has taken its toll, leaving her depressed and tormented by overwhelming fears. What’s more, she can’t seem to paint anymore. Mia needs a fresh start so when a surprise opportunity to travel to Tuscany presents itself, she takes it. With any luck, this trip will help her find whatever it is she needs to open her heart and start painting again.

What she doesn’t count on is meeting Luca, a handsome Italian mechanic. With his smile, his warmth and his inspirational outlook on all the good things life has to offer, he sweeps her off her feet. As Mia slowly lets down her walls and allows Luca in, her passion for life is reignited and her new perspective begins to inspire her art. But just when she’s ready to let go of her past, will a tragedy threaten her new life with Luca?

Full of heart and hope, a love story about la dolce vita in Tuscany.

My review:

Debut Australian author Vanessa Carnevale bursts onto the writing scene with her stunning contemporary romance novel, The Florentine Bridge. Set against the magnificent locale of Florence, Italy and surrounds, it is a gentle story that explores one inspiring young Australian woman’s passage to overcome illness, self doubt and find love.

Nineteen year old Mia is a promising artist, who hails from Melbourne, Australia. Mia has recently overcome a battle with cancer. Trying to find meaning in her life, Mia heads to the other side of the world, to Florence, Italy, where she hopes to reignite her passion for painting. When she arrives in a small village on the outskirts of Florence, Mia soon realises moving and starting anew is not an easy process. She does manage to build some trusting acquaintances, which assists her move. Despite the spectacular setting, the perfect muse to get her painting on track, Mia lacks the urge to put brush to paper. When a handsome and understanding young man named Luca enters her life, Mia’s world in Florence immediately changes. Mia’s relationship with Luca is the catalyst that sparks her return to painting. Enjoying love, life and the rich culture of Italy with Luca by her side, things couldn’t be better for Mia. However, Mia and Luca’s new found love for one another is put to the test, when life deals them both situations that will challenge their strength, both as a couple and an individual.

I have had The Florentine Bridge on my radar for some time, the blurb, as well as the exquisite cover, enticed me so much that I contacted the author to request an early review of this debut novel. The author granted my wish and as a result, I was able to read this novel prior to its release. It has been a privilege to be one of the first readers to enjoy this book and I cannot recommend this novel enough. Once I opened the first page, I was immediately lost in Mia’s heartfelt journey. The housework, dinner and life in general was put aside, while I spent time with Mia and Luca in picturesque Florence.
The beauty in this novel lies in a number of factors. Firstly, the main protagonist Mia is a character readers will easily be able to both like and relate to. Her transformation from just overcoming cancer, to finding the strength to move across the globe, far away from the comfort of her parents, was admirable. Carnevale makes the reader see that Mia’s journey is not an easy one and her life in Florence is not all hearts and roses. By the end of the novel, I couldn’t believe how far Mia had come, both professionally as a budding artist and personally, in her changed outlook on life.

Supporting Mia is a colourful cast of periphery characters that fill out the pages of Carnevale’s debut novel. Luca, the leading man, is both a character that will make the reader swoon but he is a very real character. Luca has his own back story and inner demons that must be overcome in order for his relationship with Mia to work. Alongside Luca are some unforgettable minor players, such as a local waiter, an elderly artist who mentors Mia, Mia’s employer Clara and flatmate Stella. Each of these characters adds a solid layer to The Florentine Bridge.

A review of this novel would not be complete unless I mentioned the setting. Although I visited Italy some years ago, Florence included, Carnevale has depicted the setting in such a way that I gleaned so much more from this rich location. It is obvious to the reader that Carnevale has lived and breathed Florence and Italy in general. Her setting descriptions are peppered with authentic anecdotes on landscape, art, culture and food that transfers vividly onto to paper for the reader.

The Florentine Bridge is a novel that resonates with you, long after the last page is read. It takes the reader on a heartfelt journey, filled with lessons in love and life. It also offers an authentic portrait of Italy – its culture, people, art and landscape, which I relished. The Florentine Bridge makes a late but nonetheless completely worthy entry into my list of best books of 2016. Vanessa Carnevale has a bright writing career ahead of her with the release of this stunning debut novel.


*With thanks to the author and the publisher for an earc copy of this book.

The Florentine Bridge by Vanessa Carnevale was published in December 2016 by Harlequin Books Australia.




4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Florentine Bridge by Vanessa Carnevale

  1. I’ve only had the pleasure of visiting Venice and surrounds but one day hope to visit many more places in Italy including Florence. This book sounds stunning and I will enjoy losing myself in the setting and the storyline.

    Beautiful review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad to hear you have visited Venice – it truly is magical place! I do hope you get a chance to revisit Italy at some point.
    I cannot recommend this book enough Sue and knowing your tastes, you will appreciate it! One to get lost in the storyline/setting and forget everyday life!


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