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Publisher's Summary

At his beloved Nonno Paolo's deathbed, 15-year-old Nico receives a gift that will change his life forever: a yellowing manuscript which tells the haunting, twisty tale of what really happened to his grandfather in Nazi-occupied Venice in 1943.

The Palazzo Colombina is home to the Uccello family: three generations of men, trapped together in the dusty palace on Venice's Grand Canal. Awkward 15-year-old Nico. His distant, business-focused father. And his beloved grandfather, Paolo. Paolo is dying. But before he passes, he has secrets he's waited his whole life to share.

When a Jewish classmate is attacked by bullies, 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. A secret he must keep from his father. A tale of blood and madness.... 

Nico is transported back to the Venice of 1943, an occupied city seething under its Nazi overlords 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.

©2021 David Hewson (P)2021 W. F. Howes

Critic Reviews

"Gripping and powerful, The Garden of Angels richly evokes the tension and threat of Nazi-occupied Venice. A moving and important novel.” (Tess Gerritsen, author of The Shape of Night

"Vivid and compelling. A richly wrought thriller, a love story and a warning that spans decades. I was thinking about this book for days." (Sarah Pinborough, author of Behind Her Eyes

What listeners say about The Garden of Angels

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So immersive

a story is so well written I felt like I was there. I really loved this.

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  • U. Campanella
  • 30-01-2021

Excellent Story, Expert Narration, A Winning Combo!

Give Armitage the phone book and he’d make it a fantastic listen. But give him a great story and then you’ll have a winner.
Bravo Mr. Hewson for bringing to life such a great story during such hard times in human history. And thank you Mr. Armitage for breathing life into it.
A great listen!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Betsy Fowler
  • 07-02-2021

Venetian thriller from the Second World War

Author Hewson likes a twist in his tales and this one is no exception. He knows how to evoke the spirit of places, and their historical details. Richard Armitage brings the characters to life as he always does, but I did feel that some parts of the story were too drawn out. Nonetheless this is very entertaining and well worth a listen.

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  • joseph strickland
  • 28-02-2021

Intense WWII drama that centers around Venice.

If you love historical fiction, this book is for you. I've read alot about France during the war, but never knew much about what happened in Italy. This story is a comprehensive look at the atrocities and tragedies that were taking shape in Italy during this time. It's a deep, dark drama about love, betrayal and what people do when faced with horrendous circumstances. The narration is superb.

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  • Thomas
  • 31-03-2021

A great read

Henson loves playing with what is good, nearly good and outright evil. In this novel you are constantly at a loss as to who is really good or bad. Well written and well read (although the use of accents is a bit jarring at times, it actually works for someone unfamiliar with Italian accents).

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  • Kris S.
  • 16-02-2021

Swept away!

Get swept away in this beautiful tale... Descriptions that are so well written of Venice. The gore and horror of war. The love and beauty of life and death. All intertwined with past and present discoveries. Shocking mysteries woven into unforseen love and forgiveness. Definitely a wonderful story....Bravo!

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  • fmiddaugh
  • 06-02-2021

The Guardian of Angels ... A compelling story expertly narrated by Richard Armitage !

I highly recommend this book! This was my introduction to the very talented writer, David Hewson! The story’s poignant message of the tragedies of life
in Italy during WWII is as relevant today as humanity continues to display hatred and intolerance for those who refuse to value and respect differences. Richard Armitage, expertly and with reverence, breathes life into each of characters as the story unfolds. I was captivated from the first moment and for the remaining 13 hours and 22 minutes. Well done !

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  • Carole Conard
  • 31-01-2021

Hungry for More

I wanted the stories, though not for the death and misery. but the passion of knowing the past, as I look at our future today.

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  • Barbara
  • 30-01-2021

A True Work of Art

Nonno Paulo is dying, but he has "gift" for his 15 year old Grandson, Nico, a boy he loves above all and which he sees himself. He tells Nico the gift is for him alone and not to share it with anyone, including his father, until after he is gone. Over five days, Paulo gives Nico a part of a story of events during the Nazi occupation of Venice in 1943. Nico, at first, isn't interested in reading the story, but does so to please his beloved Grandfather. Nico is then drawn into a world of turmoil, terror, betrayal and secrets that threaten to tear his world apart. David Hewson has created a brilliant story that is powerful, riveting, and emotionally charged. Richard Armitage was magnificent in his narration of this work of art.

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  • bookylady
  • 11-02-2021

Excellent. Beautifully written, expertly narrated.

I really enjoyed this wonderful book. Set in WW2 Venice, this is the story of a young man, Paulo, who is trying to deal with the Nazi occupation of the city following the death of his parents in the allied bombing of Italy in 1943. Paulo becomes embroiled in the rescue of two Jewish, Communist partisans following their unsuccessful resistance operation in Turin. Together with a local priest and a Jewish doctor Paulo shelter the pair under the noses of local Nazi officers and Italian collaborators; but things take a dangerous turn when one of the partisans breaks cover and makes contact with local resistance fighters in order to help them carry out a plot against high level Nazis and Italian fascists.

Tragedy is never far away in this story which makes it very poignant. But there are lighter notes too; Paulo discovers more about his sexuality, finds love and a new purpose in his life. Paulo writes down his story at the end of the war and goes on to forge a successful family business. Towards the end of his life he encourages his teenage grandson Nico(who has been accused of taking part in violence against a Jewish boy) to read his memoir and learn some lessons about the treatment of Jews. In reading the memoir Nico learns about a hidden family secret, something that even his father is unaware of. Paulo has lived with this devastating secret since the war and it has shaped his adult life. The secret, in turn, shapes Nico's life and sets him on paths that ultimately lead him to confront one of his grandfather's wartime foes.

The plot twist is fantastic and I really didn't see it coming. The writing is fantastic and the plot is superbly put together. The quality of the narration puts a hugely satisfying layer of icing on a very superior cake. Do read this book! It is wonderful.

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  • David
  • 03-02-2021

Excellent, may we never forget

Gosh, what a page turner. I had read it in a few days, the story told by 15 year old Nico through the documents shared with him by his beloved grandfather unfolds gradually, taking the reader to Venice in WW2.
So often on my visits to Venice I have considered what must have life been like during the occupation, this story was so enlightening! Although a work of fiction there is so much research and fact in its pages setting the backdrop that is an insight into that time and its people. Thank you David Hewson.

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  • Nicola Phinbow
  • 26-04-2021

What a twist?

Even though the story is fiction it still resonates with the world today. A throughly brilliant twist towards the end that bought a tear to the eye.
Modern day and the past twisted into one.
Also it does help having such a good narrator.

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  • scouse
  • 21-04-2021

Hewson is back in Italy and on form!

I have always enjoyed David Hewson's books, in particular those based in Italy. This time he is in Venice with a powerful story spanning more than 75 years. Drama and twists throughout all with a background of expertly painted descriptions of Venice ,demonstrating Hewson's love of the Country. Richard Armitage's performance is good, although it has to be said that some of the Partisans accent sound more Scouse than Italian. However, this does not detract from the storyline Give it a go!

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  • Rose
  • 21-04-2021

Not the Hewson I love!

This is the second book by Hewson I've not finished! It's boring and to be quite honest I find the narrator does not help, he's so taken with pronunciation of the Italian names and places the rest is monotone. Please please get back to our police books that held you in their grip to the last word.

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  • Ms. Emanuela Pari
  • 01-04-2021

loved this book

I really loved this book. As an Italian expat to England who has been to Venice many times I really enjoyed the setting. the story is compelling and once you start you can't put it down. The past and present stories blend together beautifully. Richard Armitage's performance brings the pages to life in a masterful way and makes the journey a deeply emotional one.

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  • Phoenix
  • 23-03-2021

Brilliant!

It took me a while to get into it but once I did, I loved the characters and didn't see the twist coming. Beautifully read. Definitely recommend.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 22-03-2021

A difficult but important book

David Hewson's style of writing touches me deeply and Richard Armitage 's voice compliments it perfectly.
The history of mankind is,sadly, littered with the types of horrors described in this story. There are days when I think this planet would have been better if we had never evolved. "When will we ever learn ? " as the song says .
The one consolation is that there are good and brave people out there and all we can do is try to emulate them and hope that one day they will prevail. We go through our noisy lives not thinking about the horrors too much so I think it is important that we have days of remembrance and books like this to make us stop and reflect.

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  • Mrs M J Quilliam
  • 28-02-2021

Captivating

This is a wonderful, completely absorbing story with beautifully realised characters, a narrative that moves from fast paced action, through heart-felt and believable dialogue to reflection and description. One of my favourite ‘characters’ - and this sounds a bit of a cheesy cliche I suppose - is Venice itself. David Hewson has brought her to life so vividly you can see, hear, smell, touch and taste the beauty and darkness of this incredible ancient city. I absolutely loved this book! Read it or listen to the fabulous Richard Armitage read it for you - either or both will transport you, at a time when we can’t really go anywhere other than our own doorsteps!

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  • Astrid
  • 23-02-2021

Beautiful Story

One of the rare books I will want to listen to or read a second time!
It touched me from beginning to the end, and I will certainly try to trace Paulo's/Nico's steps and places in Venice during my next visit,

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