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The Venetian Mask

3.9  ·  Rating Details ·  1,145 Ratings  ·  93 Reviews
Enduring friendships and long-held vendettas come alive against the splendor and decadence of eighteenth-century Venice.

In 1775 Venice–known to outsiders as “the brothel of Europe”–the tradition of mask-wearing has allowed adultery and debauchery to flourish. But Marietta and Elena, two dear friends at the Ospedale della Pietà, a world-famous orphanage and music school for
Paperback, 464 pages
Published March 25th 2008 by Broadway Books (first published January 1st 1992)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Amy Bruno
Dec 04, 2008 Amy Bruno rated it really liked it
My love affair with Rosalind Laker began after reading To Dance with Kings. What a wonderful novel! And while I liked The Venetian Mask, I do agree with other reviewers that her novels have a bit of a pattern to them. However we are also in agreement that it doesn't make the story less for it. The story starts off slow, but no worries, it does pick up.

Laker transports the readers to 18th century Venice; see the majestic palaces that rise from the water along the Grand Canal, experience the decad
Oct 28, 2009 Fran rated it really liked it
Great book about life in Venice cerca 1700. Teh book concentrates on two girls raised in an orphanage and schooled in music. They grow and marry two opposing families. The story is chock full of adventure and thick plots. Very good read especially if you enjoy descriptions of Venice the way it use to be.

Merged review:

I love reading historical fiction and since this is a far cry from that it does show you Venice in the late 1700s taking many liberties....the Pieta...does exist...or at least did a
May 20, 2010 Rusty rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful read about two friends in 1775 Venice. Both are singers who must marry wealthy men. Remember that women have few rights and privileges in this era. However, the men the friends marry are vicious enemies. For Elena whose love dies from illness just prior to their marriage, marriage to his brother, Filippo, is a nightmare. He is cruel, abusive and jealous. For Marietta who loses her first love to another through deceit, her marriage to Domenico Torrisi is all she could ever hop ...more
Tahsina Syeda
Dec 19, 2016 Tahsina Syeda rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Gothic Novel fans
Shelves: gothic-novel
Read this novel in a Reader's Digest Condensed collection when I was a kid, and it left a lasting impression. A Gothic novel set in the glittering, glamorous, ugly world of Venice.
Sep 06, 2011 Kelly rated it it was ok
The Venetian Mask by Rosalind Laker is a dramatic and romantic novel about two orphaned girls, who reside in the famous Ospedale Della Pieta. The Pieta is renowned for its beautiful and innocent girls, who are presented to society through their music and artistic talents. Marietta and Elena, as they reach adulthood, each engage in personal and often devastating pursuits for love, all the while maintaining that cherished and long-lasting friendship that they have created.

Like many other romance n
Set in 18th-century Venice, this novel is about three orphaned girls who grow up together at a special charity music school called the Ospedale della Pieta. They are all brilliant musicians, but instead of pursuing their careers they decide to try their chances at love and making babies. In the process many Tragic and Dramatic Things happen (including, but not limited to: blood feuds, sudden and inexplicable deaths, false imprisonments, treachery and treason, pregnancy cover-ups and dungeons) an ...more
Sep 07, 2012 Tamara rated it it was ok
The plot described in the jacket copy of this novel doesn't even come into play until past the half-way point. I felt that it was much more "romance" than historical fiction, so I felt I had been misled. I was disappointed and felt that it was simplistic.
May 18, 2017 Nichola rated it it was ok
Mills & Boon meets a plot.
Clarissa Sadowsky
Mar 18, 2017 Clarissa Sadowsky rated it really liked it
Great story! Had a odd writing style, to me, where from paragraph to paragraph the author could change perspective view from characters. Enjoyed the culture of Venice, cir early 1800's.
Mar 20, 2017 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When you are spending 2 days in Venice it seems like a good idea to read historical fiction & this well-written gem was a delight. I found myself thinking of the locations described in the story ...
Mar 18, 2017 Chanelle rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and towards the mi.le, it was hard to put down.
Vaun Healey
Mar 13, 2017 Vaun Healey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Behind the masks.

Such a lovely story. I found it hard to put this book down. The characters are well developed. I enjoyed reading right to the end. Looking forward to more from this author.
Lucy Pollard-Gott
Nov 03, 2014 Lucy Pollard-Gott rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lit-collective
Rosalind Laker is fast becoming one of my favorite historical fiction authors. I have also read her novel The House by the Fjord and I just started two others, To Dream of Snowand This Shining Land.

The Venetian Mask tells the story of two friends, Marietta and Elena, who grow up together in the Ospedale de la Pieta, an orphanage and music school. Their romantic lives entangle them in feuding families. The story follows them over several decades as their personal trials and struggles intersect wi
Conner Wolfe
Aug 22, 2011 Conner Wolfe rated it liked it
Finished the book yesterday but forgot to post my goodreads comment. I thought it was an average book.I would recommend this book for anyone who likes romantic novels. This book was mainly about two girls struggles in 18th century venice, italy, while the war was going on. The two main characters grow up together in an orphanage and both girls marry. But the two families they wed into are mortal enemies. throughout the book the girls make an effort to see each other. then later in the book one o ...more
Dec 18, 2012 Sx rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2012
This was a book where the blurb was more interesting than the content itself. The actual saving and plotting of Marietta's husband took up less than 10% of the entire content. Too many pages were devoted to describe the sweeping opulence and decadence of Venice in the 18th century shortly before its fall, that the characters failed to come alive completely. All of the women were selfless, perfect and courageous. Not one was flawed. Of the men, of course there were defects but very little else wa ...more
Nov 30, 2012 Cassi rated it liked it
I love historical fiction, and was interested to read it after just returning from a trip to Venice. While I think the story line - of young girls raised in the Ospedale as musicians - has been used a few too many times in recent fiction, I did think this story provided some interesting twists to the theme. I appreciated the attempt to introduce historical political struggles and the depths of rivalry between Venetian families. I also liked the author's lovely descriptions of La Serenissima, the ...more
Jan 05, 2011 Karen rated it really liked it
Two orphaned girls are raised in a special place called the Pieta in Venice run by the church. This orphanage is known for its great choir and Marietta and Elena are both talented singers who enjoy performing at various events in Venice. These two girls form a life-long friendship at their time at the Pieta. The girls at the Pieta are protected from Venice society and are kept away from the seedier side of life in Venice in the 1770s which leaves the young women little prepared for life outside ...more
Chiara Bizzotto
Feb 18, 2015 Chiara Bizzotto rated it it was amazing
Shelves: romance
Fino ad ora ho letto questo libro due volte perchè mi sono innamorata dei protagonisti, il fatto poi che tutto si svolgesse a Venezia ha reso il libro ancora più affascinante ai miei occhi.
La maschera veneziana è la storia di due amiche cresciute all'Ospedale della pietà, una sorta di orfanotrofio e scuola di musica assieme, dopo diverse vicissitudini le due amiche si troveranno sposate con due potenti uomini della Repubblica Veneziana appartenenti a due fazioni opposte ma mentre Marietta trover
Apr 17, 2012 Coleen rated it really liked it
10/23/08 - I quite enjoyed this book for the most part, although my biggest complaint would be that it could've been perhaps half the length that it was. Some readers might find it slow-moving, but I did enjoy the attention to Venetian detail and it was an enligtening read as far as masking and Carnival were concerned. I enjoyed the storyline; however, the flow seemed a little abrupt nearer the end. After a fairly slower-moving pace for the majority of the novel, the ending seemed rushed & w ...more
May 12, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing
A sweeping, magnificent story of two young women whose lives intertwine and diverge in endlessly intriguing ways. Laker's rich historical details and colorful descriptions bring this fascinating chapter of Venetian history to life while drawing us ever more deeply into the tangled lives of the two orphans who are the story's centerpiece.

The story begins at the Pieta, the legendary home for foundling girls where Vivaldi taught music for most of his life. Although "The Venetian Mask" takes place s
Mar 18, 2008 K rated it did not like it
ugh...chick lit disguised as historical fiction. i must confess, i could not finish this book. in fact, i couldn't get past the second chapter, which skips several years with no explanation. (ie the character is several years older and there's no development during that time). i think i might've enjoyed this book more when i was younger; its descriptions of eighteenth century venice were well done, and might've taught me something years ago, when i would've not have minded the insipid plot. the ...more
Feb 05, 2016 Dr.J.G. rated it liked it
Two friends who were resident pupils in a convent in Venice and had more spirit than could be tamed by the convent begin in this story by going to the festivities using masks, which everyone does of course, so they are not detected, and thus begins this story, a story of friendship of the two for life, while they find love and marriage - not necessarily always found together - and challenges in life that they face with courage and always manage to overcome with help of each other. Sounds glib, b ...more
Jul 15, 2008 Katie rated it liked it
I feel like I start every review of a book club book as "not a book I would normally read..." and that continues to be true for this book. The book is listed as fiction-historical. I guess that term can be used as loosely as one wants. I probably would have coined it more of a fiction-romance with a few historical events. Is that a genre? It's basically a story of two friends who marry enemies and how their relationship changes through the years. I found the writing a little weak, and the plot a ...more
Sep 03, 2011 Peggy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this just after high school. My parents love this author and many of her books have graced their bookshelves for as long as I can remember. I think this is the first of hers that I read. My mother is a history buff and therefore eschews any historical fiction without clearly impeccable research. Rosalind Laker's books land you right into the time, place and people of which she writes. She tends to focus on professions, in this case the mask maker's for carnival in Venice. I could not put ...more
Natalia Ch
Feb 03, 2013 Natalia Ch rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
No spoilers.
What a beautiful and magnificent story!! :-)
And beautifully written. With enough detail to imagine yourself in Venice 18th century.

Random quote:
"Cruelty thrives in Venice! When I was a boy I often saw condemned prisoners dying in cages suspended from the Campanile. The torture chambers are less busy than they were years ago, but they have not been closed up. At times, a criminal convicted of a violent crime is still slung up by his thumbs between those two deeper ros
Rachael McDiarmid
I read this as an ebook while in Venice. I found the story interesting enough however there was no real depth of character and I found that disappointing. The descriptions of the women, in particular, and the time periods the story covers, are very much on the surface. As an historical novel, it does well enough. Family vendettas, love gone wrong, tormented love, happy families, monster mother-in-laws, and masks! Of course it's set in Venice, always a favourite for me, but I didn't really connec ...more
Aug 14, 2011 Linda rated it liked it
My friend Angela recommended this author. I love historical fiction. Rosalind Laker deftly mixes romance and mystery in her novels while bringing the particular era in history to life. In The Venetian Mask, three sheltered young girls raised in a music school for orphaned girls, remain lifelong friends supporting each other through romantic disappointments, arranged marriages and a menacing family feud. Laker portrays the serene city where the girls live not just as a beautiful and mysterious se ...more
Melissa Massey
Nov 09, 2012 Melissa Massey rated it did not like it
I was pretty disappointed with this book. Here I was, all set for a romp through Venice with a book similar to Vivialdi's Virgins (which has a similar premise, but follows the Pieta Orchestra girls) only to be let down by bad writing. Nothing kept me engaged for the small part of the book that I read. Everything is glossed over quickly (for example, I would have enjoyed reading about how Marietta and Elena became friends, rather than a line at the beginning of Chapter 2 saying "they were friends ...more
Apr 26, 2008 carrietracy rated it it was ok
True score: 2.5
I enjoyed parts of this, but really, Laker set out with a bigger task than she could manage. The result was a lengthy account of two women's lives where no one plot line was thoroughly written. The best parts of the book are when the author pauses long enough to actually give some information, plot or nuance to a section of the story. The parts when I became irritated tended to be the random passings of years in the course of a paragraph.
Mary Kate
Feb 18, 2016 Mary Kate rated it it was ok
Historical romance rather than history. It dragged on and on with simplistic, idealistic characters and silly plot dilemmas that were magically resolved a few pages later. I would give it 1 1/2 stars if possible. Having read many books about Venice lately, I did feel it added a bit to my knowledge of Venetian masks. It's author seems to have been around 80 when she wrote it so that may explain the harlequin romance overtones.
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A pseudonym used by Barbara Øvstedal.

Barbara Øvstedal was an author previously writing under the pseudonym Barbara Paul and Barbara Douglas. She wrote a few books under this pseudonym but later changed to Rosalind Laker when Barbara Paul gained recognition. Her many books include The Sugar Pavilion and To Dance with Kings.
More about Rosalind Laker...

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