9 Fantastic Book Series For Readers Who Love Italy And France

It’s been a while since I’ve done a post with a new list of books for intrepid travelers. Over the past couple of years I’ve been reading a few new series (new to me anyway) and more books in existing series, all with a travel oriented theme.

I love reading books set in Italy (obviously!) and in France where I have also spent an enormous amount of time over the years. I was explaining to a friend recently that for the most part I tend to read two types of books. When my brain has down time I like to read complex, fast paced thrillers (like Mark Dawson’s John Milton series and L.T Ryan’s Jack Noble series. I also enjoy Patricia Cornwall’s and Kathy Reichs’ books, and anything that moves quickly and requires more thinking to follow what’s going on.

But when I am super busy, which this year has been most of the time, I use books to quiet my mind and relax, so look for a different type of book. Mostly books set in Italy and France and other euro-locales. I am a voracious reader and blow through books quickly, so love reading on a Kindle (I have the Kindle Paperwhite). You can borrow library books on Kindle, you can access prime reading (free books from the Amazon library), and with no manufacture and shipping costs you can access books very inexpensively too. Often authors with big series will make the first in series free, and from there the books run anywhere from 99cents on promotion to an average price of $4.99. Heads up: as an author I can tell you I make the same amount of money if someone buys my books in paperback or as a kindle eBook, so don’t be thinking an author loses out if you buy eBooks!

Anyway, in no specific order the following are book series I’ve been reading over the past couple of years. They make great holiday/anytime reading for you too, and also make fantastic end of year gift ideas. Enjoy!

RELATED POST: 21 Books To Inspire Your Wanderlust

The Department Q Series

The Department Q series is a police series with a twist, set in Denmark. A course of unfortunate events leads the police department to create a one man cold case squad in order to get this trouble maker (Carl Mørck, our protagonist) out of their hair. They then give him a quirky Syrian immigrant and a schizophrenic girl as assistants, and somehow the three of them build their department into a brilliant case solving unit.

The main characters are diverse and quite nutty, but incredibly compelling. These books are so clever and so well written, with intriguing subplots. I’m about to start book 7 on 9 and am dreading finishing the series. Book one is The Keeper of Lost Causes, pictured above. See the series here on Amazon. It is also available as a library book on Kindle.

Philip Gwynne Jones Venice Series

The Philip Gwynne Jones Venice Murder Series is a murder mystery series with a twist. Nathan Sutherland is a slightly bumbling British fellow living with his temperamental attack cat in an upstairs apartment on the Street of Assassins in Venice. He works as a translator of boring DIY manuals, and is the British Honorary Consul of Venice, an unpaid and only marginally interesting position that at least gets him into some interesting cocktail parties. Throughout the series he stumbles into one murder mystery after another, somehow managing to solve them in the end. These books are hard to put down and have the added advantage of being set in the most unique city on earth, Venice

The first book in the 7 book series is The Venetian Game . Check out the series here on Amazon. Also available as a library book on Kindle.

RELATED POST: 15 Fabulous Books Set In Italy

The Murder In Tuscany Series

T.A Williams’ Murder In Tuscany series falls into the cozy mystery category. These are fun, breezy murder mysteries that are easy to read and superbly enjoyable. In book one, Murder in Tuscany, we meet Dan Armstrong, a recently retired British detective who has come to Tuscany on a creative writing retreat for Brits. A murder transpires and as an English speaking ex-cop he is able to help the local homicide detective. The two form a friendship and Dan decides to stay in Tuscany, setting up the rest of the series.

If you enjoy books set in and around gorgeous Tuscany you’ll love this fun series. At the time of writing this post there are 6 books in series with book number 7 on pre-order. Check them out here on Amazon.

The Tuscan Vineyard Series

34 year old Chicago ad exec Olivia Glass finds her life crumbling around her so takes her best friend up on the idea of spending the summer in Tuscany. While there she gets a job in a local winery, buys a round down farmhouse, and finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery.

The Tuscan Vineyard Series makes for fun, breezy reading with the backdrop of beautiful Tuscany adding to the splendor. These books are enjoyable reading for anyone who has ever fallen in love with Tuscany, dreamt about moving there or has wished they could fix up a rundown stone house in the Tuscan hills. The first book in the series, Aged For Murder, is free on Kindle, or 7.99 in paperback. Check it out here on Amazon. Author Fiona Grace has several other series including one set in Sicily which I have downloaded but not yet read.

Camilla Trinchieri Tuscan Mysteries

I recently started reading Camilla Trinchieri’s Tuscan Mysteries series and have been throughly enjoying them. Her protagonist is an ex NYPD homocide cop who relocates to Chianti to be with her family after his Italian wife dies. Of course he stumbles upon a murder, and then ends up helping the local carabinieri to solve it.

I am midway through this series and am thoroughly enjoying it. The first in series is Murder in Chianti, and is available on Kindle for 2.99. The series does seem to be available to borrow from the library on Kindle too. See the Tuscan Mysteries series here on Amazon.

RELATED POST: 14 More Books For Travel Lovers, Set In Italy

Bruno, Chief of Police

Zipping over to my other great European love – France, we now get to meet Bruno, Chief of Police. This 16 book series is a glorious romp through southern France where our hero, Bruno, a small town policeman, solves murders while juggling village life, cooking French food and enjoying local wines. Bruno lives in a remodeled shepherd’s cottage in the hills, grows his own vegetables, and lives a simple but pleasurable life. This is a lovely balance to the complexity of the murders he solves. This is a fabulous series and I am hoping author Martin Walker will keep Bruno’s adventures going for many more books!

See bruno Chief of Police here on Amazon.

The MAGGIE NEWBERRY Mysteries

I couldn’t really get into the first book in this series, but you need to read it in order for the rest of the series to make sense. And once it gets going it is fabulous!

Maggie Newberry is an Atlanta based ad exec (I think she was in advertising?) who comes to the South of France to bring her murdered sister’s body home. While there she discovers her sister had a child the family knew nothing about. With the help of a local conman she works to track down the missing child and figure out a more complex and dark mystery along the way.

The first book in series, Murder in the South of France, combines murder, mystery, and romance, setting up the entire series to follow. This is a tremendous series, 24 books deep at the time of writing this post, with more books on the way. Check them out here on Amazon.

RELATED POST: 10 Fabulous Books Set In Venice

The Stranded In Provence Series

Before I discovered the Maggie Newberry books I read Susan Kiernan Lewis’s Stranded in Provence series, and then her American in Paris books. All three series are highly addictive!

All three protagonists in these separate series hail from Atlanta and wind up living in France. This time the initially ditzy Jules Hooker has booked a trip to Provence with her boyfriend, thinking he will propose to her. When he backs out at the last minute she decides to come alone anyway. She then discovers she has booked herself into a remote Provençal village, far from the glamor she had envisaged. She is about to give up and head back to Atlanta when a dirty bomb is dropped in the Mediterranean, knocking out all electrics and communications for the foreseeable future. Now she is trapped in a village where she knows no one, in a country where she doesn’t speak the language, where cars and phones and microwaves no longer work. To top it off she finds a dead body and has to solve the murder in order to save herself.

Parlez Vous Murder is the first book in this series. From the beginning the premise is quite clever, and sets up endless complications for Jules as the series progresses. These books are lots of fun and are wonderful for anyone who loves the South of France

See the Stranded in Provence series here on Amazon.

The American In Paris/Claire Baskerville Series

This series is also by Susan Kierman Lewis with another clever premise. Claire Baskerville is a 60 something American woman with a genetic brain anomaly that makes it impossible for her to remember faces. She travels to Paris with her husband, who is then brutally murdered. Alone in the City of Light Claire now has to not only figure her way around the city, but also figure out who killed her husband. Making matters worse, the local police are hopeless. Claire then discovers her husband had a whole secret life, a financial crisis is looming, and she is going to have to hide out in Paris for the foreseeable future.

This is a thoroughly enjoyable series especially if you enjoy Paris. It’s fun to have a protagonist in her 60s too! The first book in this series, Dejà Dead is free on Kindle or $10.99 in paperback. Check the series out here on Amazon. There are 12 books in the series, with book 13 on pre-order for 2024.

10 Fabulous Books You Need To Read Before Traveling To Venice

10 Fabulous Books Set In Venice. Any or all of these books are wonderful to read before traveling to Venice. They will open your eyes to new places, make your trip more special and spectacular, and add an extra layer of magic to your experience in the most unique city on earth.

One of the things I love to do as I prepare for a trip is to watch as many movies as I can that are set in the country I am traveling to, and read books that take place in that country or ideally in that specific city.

This clues me in to lots of cool things to look out for, things that I wouldn’t otherwise have known about, and it also gives that frisson of excitement when you recognize something from a book or movie that you have loved.

I love geeking out and walking to the places in Florence and Rome that Dan Brown sends his characters to in the Angels and Demons/ Da Vinci Code/ Inferno series. In Paris I get ridiculous amounts of pleasure from hitting the places Owen Wilson goes to in the movie Midnight In Paris. The steps he sits on when he gets picked up at midnight would be completely unremarkable to anyone who hasn’t seen the film, but to all who have seen it there is a thrill in sitting on them and having someone take your photo!

RELATED POST: FABULOUS BOOKS SET IN PARIS

Every year I say I want to spend more time in Venice. Most of my Glam Italia Tours only spend a day there, and although I arrive in Italy before my tour groups get there and generally stay on a few extra days at the end, I never seem to be getting that extra time in Venice. I always find myself in Tuscany or in Rome or somewhere at the beach.

This past June (2018) I gave myself a week in Venice. I had a tour that ended with 3 days there, then spent another few days by myself doing all the things I hadn’t been able to do in ages. It was completely fantastic.

RELATED POST 15 THINGS YOU MUST DO IN VENICE

Of course I geeked out and went to visit many of the places that feature in the endless books I have read that are set in La Serenissima and had ridiculous amounts of fun doing it.

Venice is such a magical city, it is very hard to let go of it once you return home. So, of course I am up to my ears in books set there. I recently discovered a series by Donna Leon that I am now halfway through, and I am going to reread some of my old favorites as well because they are just so good!

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Here is a list of 10 books set in Venice that I recommend you read before you go.  I have also attached a link at the bottom of this post with 10 of my secret things to do in Venice, for those of you who want to experience more than the average tourist does. This includes my favorite restaurants, places to wander and things to visit that will keep you away from the tourist crush. It is well worth downloading! Scroll to the bottom of this post to get them.

          10 BOOKS SET IN VENICE THAT NEED TO BE ON YOUR READING LIST

This list contains Amazon.com affiliate links

The Venice Experiment: A Year of Trial and Error Living Abroad by Barry Frangipane

Barry Frangipani The Venice Experiment

Barry and Debbie Frangipane are a middle aged, middle class couple from Florida who have traveled back and forth to Venice several times, and have dreamt about moving there one day. This book is the story of them living in Venice for a year, with all the fascinating people they meet, fabulous foods they eat, and the hilarious things he gets up to. (He is an absolute character!)

You too will find yourself dreaming about moving there, and if you are anything like me will get a thrill when you recognize all the places he talks about from his neighborhood and on his daily walks around the city. I have never figured out where the Mail Boxes Etc was though. (you have to read the book to find out why that is significant – it’s pretty funny!) If you do find it you have to promise me you will tell me where it is…

Get your copy here at Amazon.com

The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt

The City Of Fallen Angels

John Berendt wrote Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil. Shortly after the film of the book was made he moved to Venice, arriving the day after the world famous La Fenice opera house burned to the ground.

The City of Fallen Angels is an hilarious and brilliant look at Berendt’s life in Venice, his entry into the quirky local society, and his investigation into the opera house fire. In between gondola rides to decadent parties and balls, and his exploration of the most unique city on earth, he also uncovers all kinds of art-world intrigue.

This book will forever change the way you look at the iconic Santa Maria della Salute, (beware of falling angels!) will give the Guggenheim a whole new context, and will lead you to some wonderful things you would otherwise walk right past. I had walked past the little church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli a hundred times, not knowing the story of the New Yorkers behind Save Venice and the restoration they did on the church. As told by Berendt the story is both funny and endearing!

This year I made my Venice guide walk me around the places in The City of Fallen Angels that I hadn’t been able to find on my own. The poor guy has no idea what I have in store for him next year! I really do make lists of places from the books I read, and sometimes I make my guides take me to them.

If you want a really amazing and fun guide for Venice, email me at the address on the About Me page, and I will hook you up!

Get your copy of The City of Fallen Angels here at Amazon.com

Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon

Donna Leon Death At La Fenice

I only discovered this series when I got home from Venice this summer, and I have already consumed half of it! Donna Leon’s stories are set in Venice with her protagonist Commissario Guido Brunetti of the Venice police. Her mysteries are clever and have the requisite twists and turns to keep you hooked until the last page. Brunetti is the kind of character that keeps you coming back for more. Even if she had set these books somewhere else I would have read them all, but the fact that they are in Venice just makes them even better!

If you have been to Venice before you will recognize the places Brunetti walks. In some of the books he is in the neighborhood where I rented an apartment in this summer, and I can literally see every calle he walks along! (Some of these places are in the bonus content at the bottom of this post.)

Death At La Fenice is the first book in the series. (La Fenice is the opera house that burned down the The City Of Fallen Angels)

Get your copy of Death At La Fenice here at Amazon.com

A Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected Romance by Marlena de Blasi

A Thousand Days In Venice

This is de Blasi’s autobiography, written as a combination of a lush travel essay and a romance.

While in Italy writing for a travel magazine chef and food and travel writer Marlena de Blasi was told she had to go to Venice, a city she had always avoided, to write a story.  After dreading going there she found she loved it, so returned the following year with a group of girlfriends.

While having coffee on their first day a waiter approaches and tells her there is a phone call for her. She refuses it as no one knows she is there. This happens every morning that week until her final day in Venice when she agrees to come to the phone.

The caller is Fernando, a banker who had spotted her across the piazza the year before and had fallen in love with her profile. After daydreaming about her for 12 months he had walked into his daily coffee bar that first morning and seen her sitting there! Too nervous to approach her he had run back to the bank and then phoned to try and talk to her.

On the final day after talking to him on the phone Fernando and Marlena rode around Venice on the vaporetto, and the love affair of a lifetime began.

Within a few months she had sold her restaurant and her house in St Louis and moved to Venice. This book tells the story of their first three years together.

if you have ever dreamed about falling in love in Venice, this is the book for you!

Get your copy of A Thousand Days In Venice here at Amazon.com

Brunetti’s Venice: Walks with the City’s Best-Loved Detective by Toni Sepeda

Brunetti's Venice

This one is on my list of books to read. Because I won’t be back in Venice until next summer I’m going to read some more Brunetti mysteries before I read it. And you know I will do all of these walks! Here is the Amazon blurb:

Follow Commissario Guido Brunetti, star of Donna Leon’s internationally best-selling mystery series, on over a dozen walks that highlight Venice’s churches, markets, bars, cafes, and palazzos
In Brunetti’s Venice, tourists and armchair travelers follow in the footsteps of Brunetti as he traverses the city he knows and loves. With his acute eye for change in his native city, his fascination with the past, his ear for language and his passion for food and drink, and his familiarity with the dark realities of crime and corruption, Brunetti is the perfect companion for any walk across La Serenissima.
Over a dozen walks, encompassing all six regions of Venice as well as the lagoon, lead readers down calli, over canali, and through campi. Important locations from the best-selling novels are highlighted and major themes and characters are explored, all accompanied by poignant excerpts from the novels. This is a must-have companion book for any lover of Donna Leon’s wonderful mysteries.

Get your copy of Brunetti’s Venice here at Amazon.com

Dreaming of Venice by T.A Williams

Dreaming of Venice Book Cover

I read this on the plane to Italy this summer. I’m not normally a romance reader, but at some point had bought this book on my Kindle app, and it had been sitting there forever. Having finished my John Milton book during the flight and with hours still to go, I clicked on it not expecting to like it, but I couldn’t put it down!

Dreaming Of Venice is a good little story to read, especially if you are going to Venice or if you are dreaming about going to Venice.

Williams gives an really good description of  the leading man in the book, an enigmatic character with a pirate-styled black beard. On my first day back in Venice this summer I did a huge double-take when I spotted the man who surely had to be the inspiration for this book! At first I thought I imagined it, but then I saw him several more times and am 100% sure, because two people could not be more similar, even if one of them is a fictional character!

If you read this book and go to Venice, keep an eye out for a water taxi named Tali. You will die when you see the driver! I have made several acquaintances and friends read the book this summer prior to going to Venice, and everyone thinks the same. I keep getting photos of him texted to me from travelers, with messages saying “is this the guy from the book???”

If you spot him and think its the guy in the book you have to message me!

Get your copy of Dreaming of Venice here at Amazon.com

A Stopover in Venice by Kathryn Walker

A Stopover in Venice

I read this book years ago and was actually clicking around on google trying to find it when I came up with the idea of doing a post on books set in Venice. I had forgotten them name of the book and the author, and only found it by typing in details that I could remember about the story.

I loved this book and am looking forward to re-reading it soon.

Nel Everett, a young American woman, is touring Italy with her famous musician husband when, in a moment of fury, she pulls down her luggage and gets off the train. As her life speeds away down the tracks, Nel is marooned and on her own for the first time in eight years.

Bewildered, Nel returns to Venice where she encounters a tiny dog who leads her to a enigmatic stranger, a contessa, and a decaying Gothic palazzo. She is soon drawn into a world of charismatic characters, centuries of Venetian history, and the mystery of a lost masterpiece. What begins as a tale of loneliness and heartbreak opens into a dazzling, enchanting  story of secrets and self-discovery in a magical city.

Get your copy of A Stopover In Venice here at Amazon.com

One Summer in Venice by Nicky Pellegrino

nicky Pellegrino One Summer In Venice

Nicky Pellegrino lives in my home country, New Zealand, and writes books set in Italy. I first discovered her when I came home from a summer in Sicily and had to read everything I could get my hands on that was set there. She had written a gorgeous book that left me aching even more to go back.

Her books are fabulous.

This isn’t a mid-life crisis OK? For a start I’m not old enough yet to have one of those. I’m calling it a happiness project. I’ve stolen an entire summer from my life and by the time it’s over I plan to leave this place with a list in my hand. The ten things that make me happy, that’s all I want to know. How difficult can it be? They may be small things – a perfect cup of coffee, a day without rain – or bigger ones. It’s still the beginning so how can I know?

Addolorata Martinelli knows she should be happy. She has everything she thought she wanted – her own business, a husband, a child. So why does she feel as if something is missing? Then when her restaurant, Little Italy, is slated by a reviewer, she realises that she’s lost the one thing she thought she could always count on, her love of food.

So Addolorata heads to Venice for a summer alone, aiming to find the ten things that make her happy. Once she’s found them, she’ll construct a new life around her ten things, but will they include her life in London?

Get your copy of One Summer In Venice here at Amazon.com

In the Company of the Courtesan: A Novel by Sarah Dunant

In The Company Of The Courtesan

I haven’t read this one, but this summer one of my Glam Italia Tour travelers had it with her and was just beside herself as we went to the various places in the book. She has made me promise to read it, and it is on my kindle app, waiting for me to finish my latest Commissario Brunetti book. Here is the Amazon blurb:

My lady, Fiammetta Bianchini, was plucking her eyebrows and biting color into her lips when the unthinkable happened and the Holy Roman Emperor’s army blew a hole in the wall of God’s eternal city, letting in a flood of half-starved, half-crazed troops bent on pillage and punishment.

Thus begins In the Company of the Courtesan, Sarah Dunant’s epic novel of life in Renaissance Italy. Escaping the sack of Rome in 1527, with their stomachs churning on the jewels they have swallowed, the courtesan Fiammetta and her dwarf companion, Bucino, head for Venice, the shimmering city born out of water to become a miracle of east-west trade: rich and rancid, pious and profitable, beautiful and squalid.

With a mix of courage and cunning they infiltrate Venetian society. Together they make the perfect partnership: the sharp-tongued, sharp-witted dwarf, and his vibrant mistress, trained from birth to charm, entertain, and satisfy men who have the money to support her.

Yet as their fortunes rise, this perfect partnership comes under threat, from the searing passion of a lover who wants more than his allotted nights to the attentions of an admiring Turk in search of human novelties for his sultan’s court. But Fiammetta and Bucino’s greatest challenge comes from a young crippled woman, a blind healer who insinuates herself into their lives and hearts with devastating consequences for them all.

A story of desire and deception, sin and religion, loyalty and friendship, In the Company of the Courtesan paints a portrait of one of the world’s greatest cities at its most potent moment in history: It is a picture that remains vivid long after the final page.

Get your copy of In The Company Of The Courtesan here at Amazon.com

Glam Italia! How to travel Italy: Secrets To Glamorous Travel (On A Not So Glamorous Budget) by Corinna Cooke

Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy

Of course I am going to put my book on here! This genius book, written by me, isn’t actually about Venice specifically, although I do talk about Venice. Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy is essential reading for anyone planning or dreaming of a trip to Italy.

This book helps you to plan your trip, figure out where to go, where to stay, how many nights to stay in each place. We look at transport options, how to get from city to city, from village to township.

There is an entire section of the book devoted to helping you while you are on the ground in Italy. From what you need to know about shopping to how to choose a restaurant, from how to order coffee to a step by step guide on how to use the trains. Italy food and wine is entirely regional. You don’t order lasagna on the Amalfi Coast and you don’t order chianti in Venice. Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy has a guide for which wines to order in each region of the country and a guide to help you choose local dishes in each region.

You will learn what to do if you get sick while you’re away, and what to do if your plans go sideways. You will also discover what you need to know about beachlife in Italy, how to work your money, and how to work your phones. There are 26 chapters packed full of really helpful information, peppered with some of my personal travel stories.

Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy has already become a best seller. (It’s a really great book!) You can get your copy here on Amazon.com

Have you read any fabulous books set in Venice? I am always looking for more, so please let me know in the comments section below!

Bonus Information:

I created a downloadable PDF with 10 of my secret places to visit in Venice. These are places that most tourists don’t know about and don’t go to, including my favorite restaurants, favorite places to wander around and some really great spots that you will just love!

This is information that I won’t be sharing on the blog. It is just for those who really want to add something special to their trip to Venice. Click here to get your bonus Venice PDF