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The Venetian Mask

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  844 ratings  ·  75 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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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
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 as it was portrayed in the book. It is a very romantic historical account about a girl who was brought to an orphanage in Venice when her mask-making mother took ill and died. Marietta met and befriended Eleana in the orphanage and the two of them ended up marrying the "Hatfield adn MacCoys". The story takes you throug ...more
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
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
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
I rather liked the story, even with the fairy tale ending. The rest of the book was amazing. And detailed!
Lucy Pollard-Gott
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
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
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
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
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
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
Ana Quina
ADRORO... foi dos primeiros livros "grandes" que li quando ainda era miuda e foi paixão às primeiras palavras. Um romance histórico, bem encadeada, com imenso mistério e muita intriga... sem exagero, já o li umas 4 vezes. Faz-nos sonhar e viajar por uma veneza tradicional e traiçoeira, onde é preciso ter cuidado com as decições tomadas. Apaixonante*
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
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
Diana Marlowe
This was a wonderful story full of history, romance, intrigue, and suspense. It's full of twists and turns, unexpected outcomes, and characters you love or hate! Perfect summer read. It made me miss Venice. I really loved the Venetian history that was woven beautifully throughout the story. If you're a fan of romantic historical fiction, you'll love this book.
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
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
Well written and easy to follow, it makes for a nice read but doesn't really reveal to great lengths the life of the people of Venice. It is mostly about the characters and the acts that shape their lives. Very nice story.
Have fallen in love with this author. Historical romantic fiction at is best. Great for summer reading.
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
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
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
molly ross
I just fall in love with her charecters and their rich lives!
Melissa Massey
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
Lauren Maiolo
Thought this would be fun to read while I was in Venice and that's pretty much the only reason it gets two stars instead of one...I enjoyed reading about places and things I was seeing and experiencing at the time. Other than that, the story is all over the place and the writing extremely frustrating.
I'd have given this book four stars if Laker's writing wasn't so mechanical.
Kate Forsyth
The story begins in Venice in the 1770s, with a little orphan girl being taken in by the Pieta, and finishes with the fall of Venice to Bonaparte in 1797. It’s a novel on a grand scale, with themes of love, loss, suffering, and betrayal. Rosalind Laker is particularly good at the minutiae of life at the time – the clothes, the food, the hairdos. Although romances, her books are really more about female relationships and this is particularly true of this novel.
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.
It took me a good 50+ pages to get into the meat of the book and the ending felt a tad rushed, but on the whole this book was quite enjoyable. If anyone is a fan of Casanova or Venetian based tales, this book is a treat. Laker does a nice job of setting the scene for what living in late 18th century Venice, but there were a couple of places/characters that I thought could have been a bit better developed. Not a bad way to pass a rainy afternoon.
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A pseudonym used by Barbara Øvstedal.

Barbara Ovstedal 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...
To Dance with Kings The Golden Tulip Circle Of Pearls Banners of Silk The Sugar Pavilion

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