Friday Reads – The Venice Secret by Anita Chapman

I’m delighted to welcome Anita Chapman to the blog today to talk to us about her debut historical romance mystery, The Venice Secret. So grab a cuppa, get comfy and let’s find out a little about the book then get chatting to Anita.

One hidden painting. Two women born centuries apart. A secret uncovered.

In 2019, Rachel is stuck in a rut when she discovers what appears to be a Canaletto painting in her grandmother’s loft along with a note addressed to Philippa in 1782. With help from Jake at the local art gallery, Rachel endeavours to find out if the painting is an original and uncovers a secret from the past.

In 1780, governess at Chipford Hall, Philippa is offered the role of mistress by Earl Rupert. She escapes to Venice as companion to bluestocking, Lady Cordelia who reveals a secret that changes both their lives. They do their best to keep the secret from Lady Cordelia’s social circle, but their nemesis is determined to reveal all and ruin them.

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Welcome to my blog, Anita. I’ve read The Venice Secret and really enjoyed it. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind story.

The Venice Secret is dedicated to my mother who used to take me to see the Canalettos at The National Gallery. We’d often get the train to London on a Saturday, and as a child, I wasn’t that interested in looking at paintings. I remember sitting on those benches in the middle of the room, waiting for her to finish looking at everything, feeling very bored. But – this is something I realised recently – when we reached the Canalettos, I would stop and look at those. Perhaps it was because the canvases are huge, so difficult to miss, and to a child, Venice is a magical place as if from a fairy tale. But also Canaletto’s paintings are really special and they stand out when hanging alongside those of Venice by other artists. His seem more 3D and this is because he painted theatre sets, and you can look at his paintings for ages. There are so many details to spot, and the little people are so beautifully done.

The Venice Secret is the second novel I’ve written (the first published), and I’d been mulling over writing a dual timeline about the discovery of a painting in a loft for some time. Wouldn’t we all like to find something valuable from the past somewhere in our home? When it came to writing the book, the painting of course had to be a Canaletto. It couldn’t be one of the huge canvases such as The Regatta on the Grand Canal – I had a poster of this one on my bedroom wall, age seven – but it had to be small enough to fit through a loft hatch. And so, after studying The National Gallery’s website, I visited to find a Canaletto that was smaller, and discovered a pair of companion paintings of St Mark’s Square from different views. In my novel, one is found in the loft, and the other is somewhere else. Last week, en route to a book launch in London, I went to see the companion paintings for the first time since publication day. It was a really special moment, especially as my mother is no longer here. Somehow with this book, I’ve managed to keep the memory of her alive and that means a great deal.

They’re beautiful paintings, Anita. I’m sure your Mum would be very proud of you and your book. 😊 Thank you for dropping by and talking to us today. I hope your book flies!

Meet Anita

Author Bio

Anita likes to read journals and diaries from the past, and one of her favourite pastimes is visiting art galleries and country houses. Her first published novel, The Venice Secret is inspired by her mother taking her to see the Canalettos at The National Gallery in London as a child.

Since 2015, Anita has worked as a social media manager, training authors on social media, and helping to promote their books.

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Website: (also found at

Twitter: @neetschapman

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Karen King – Writing about the light and dark of relationships.
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