"new, strange, unusual," early 15c., but little used before 1600, from Old French novel, nouvel "new, young, fresh, recent; additional; early, soon" (Modern French nouveau, fem. nouvelle), from Latin novellus "new, young, recent," diminutive of novus "new" (see new).
"fictitious narrative," 1560s, from Italian novella "short story," originally "new story," from Latin novella "new things" (source of Middle French novelle, French nouvelle), neuter plural or fem. of novellus (see novel (adj.)). Originally "one of the tales or short stories in a collection" (especially Boccaccio's), later (1630s) "long work of fiction," works which had before that been called romances.
A novel is like a violin bow; the box which gives off the sounds is the soul of the reader. [Stendhal, "Life of Henri Brulard"]