The Garden of Angels by David Hewson – Book Review

Title: The Garden of Angels

Author: David Hewson

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Canongate

Publication Date: 18th August 2022 (Paperback)

Rating: 5/5



When a Jewish classmate is attacked by bullies, fifteen-year-old Nico just watches – earning him a week’s suspension and a typed, yellowing manuscript from his frail Nonno Paolo. A history lesson, his grandfather says, and a secret he must keep from his father.

Nico is transported back to the Venice of 1943, an occupied city seething under the Nazis, and to the defining moment of his grandfather’s life: when Paolo’s support for a murdered Jewish woman brings him into the sights of the city’s underground resistance. Hooked and unsettled, Nico can’t stop reading – but he soon wonders if he ever knew his beloved grandfather at all.


I always find fiction about World War Two compelling but even more so when it’s about an aspect I don’t know a great deal about. The Nazi occupation of Venice is something I was not particularly aware of and The Garden of Angels so perfectly evoked that period of darkness and fear whilst simultaneously weaving a deeply moving story of intrigue and danger. I have been unable to stop thinking about this phenomenal book since I finished reading. The characters are layered and complex in a way that feels authentic to such a divisive period in history. The Garden of Angels is about so many different things but above all it serves as a timely reminder that the events of the Second World War May feel distant and unrepeatable but the truth is they are not. There is still so much persecution in the world and humanity is capable of shocking cruelty at any time and in any place. If we do not learn lessons from history we are always at risk of repeating it. This is a book that puts that point across with an eloquent yet forceful power that holds the reader totally within its grasp and doesn’t let go. A strong contender for one of my books of the year – I couldn’t recommend this poignant masterpiece any more highly.


I was very kindly send a proof copy of the book by the publisher. My review is entirely my own honest opinion.

Buy the book:

Waterstones | Blackwell’s | Amazon

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