It’s a fairly common daydream of many travelers to Venice to fall in love with a gondolier. The most romantic boat in the most romantic city, and many of these guys know how to charm their passengers.
But what if you actually lived that daydream?
That’s the story behind Beneath the Lion’s Wings, a novel by Marie Ohanesian Nardin, who wrote this fictional novel that was inspired by her own life events. The novel’s protagonist, Victoria, an American spending a couple days in Venice, locks eyes with a gondolier named Alvise, and the sparks fly immediately. This part of the story aligns closely with Marie’s own story, and now many decades later, she’s still living happily with her gondolier husband.
But the novel takes many other turns, always keeping readers on their toes. Will she move to Venice? Will she marry Alvise? Will his family and friends accept her? And what is his big secret? No, I’m not giving it away. These characters stayed with me each time I set the book down, and I was compelled to get back to them to see what happened next.
In fact, after I finished Beneath the Lion’s Wings, I lent it to my 88-year-old mom, who is stuck in the house during this pandemic. She read the book in three days, calling me daily to talk about what was happening and what she had just read. “Does this author have another book?” she asked me. Not yet, but Marie did contribute a chapter to my new anthology Venice Rising: Aqua Granda, Pandemic, Rebirth.
If you can’t travel to Venice right now, at least you can walk the streets of Venice and enter Venetian homes and restaurants with Victoria and Alvise in Beneath the Lion’s Wings.