In the City of Dark Waters

Written by Jane Jakeman
Review by Lorraine Gelly


In 1908 Revel Callender, an English lawyer, is living in Venice, taking time off to see all that Italy has to offer. An elderly British woman who married into an old Italian family has died, and an acquaintance from the British consulate asks Revel to review and organize her papers. Thus he becomes acquainted with the haughty and arrogant Casimiris, and with the beautiful daughter of the house, Clara.

When the Count, Clara’s father, dies, it is thought at first to be an accident. When the police call it murder, Revel’s work is abruptly halted. Afterward, Revel meets Claude Monet at a wealthy British woman’s home. Monet and his second wife, Alice, are in their older years. The artist, plagued with cataracts, continues to paint his misty, ethereal pictures in Venice. Monet had wanted to get Alice away from Paris, where a scandal had eclipsed her family; he asks Revel to make discreet inquiries into these events.

Jakeman has written a fascinating novel using her knowledge of art and history. We see the old city of Venice, decaying and yet still strangely beautiful, through her detailed descriptions. Although Monet plays a minor part, each time he is on the page we are treated to colorful interpretations of his work. The ability to see sights through the eyes of a lover of both art and the past gives this book its strength.