"Dear Nicola,No, UK readers certainly would have no trouble reading about Venice. Not only is there the well-known Agatha Christie novel, but we've also loved a whole load of others, including the first one that springs to my mind: Salley Vickers' Miss Garnet's Angel. Venice is absolutely a wonderful setting for a novel.
I have just read Rachelle Gardner's blog [sorry, can't find it, but anyway] about books with foreign settings being difficult to place in the US market. It is rather disheartening as I am writing my upper middle grade book about a British boy being dragged off to a month long holiday in Venice. Most of the action takes place in Venice. Would UK readers have a hard time reading about Venice? Has my setting completely cut me out of the market? Can a UK based book reach US markets easily? What's your experience?
"Thank you for your time and your great blog."
As to whether a UK-based book can reach US markets, it depends on a) the precise setting b) how strong the setting is and c) the other powerful aspects of the story. To elaborate:
a) The precise setting matters: Edinburgh and London will work well. Leicester and Hull less so. With apologies to Leicester and Hull. (And this does NOT mean you can't set books in Leicester and Hull, just that they won't of themselves be a draw to those who don't appreciate the romantic aspects of those cities.) HOWEVER, please note my next point.
b) If the setting is only mildly present, it doesn't matter at all. For example, Meg Rosoff's Just in Case was set near Luton and won the Carnegie Medal, but the setting is not vividly realised, (though it is important.) If your setting is a major factor, richly described, it matters more if the setting is not well-known to a US/other market. Also, US readers are said to be less willing to read outside their shores, but I think this factor is exaggerated, frankly. Put it this way, no one (sane) is going to read a book because it's about Luton but they might not mind discovering halfway through the book that it happens to be.
c) It's the power of the story that matters most. The setting really shouldn't negatively affect the book if the book is strong enough. And the setting can enrich the book, regardless of whether it's romantic or aspired-to.
So, Elizabeth, I don't think you have a problem. However, writers should consider the power of every aspect of their book over the reader, and setting can be important.