Rating this book wasn't easy. You see ... the first approx. 700 pages had me thinking that "The Madonna of Murano" would be a 5-star book for sure --- the writing was vivid and descriptive (15th-Century Venice really came to life before my eyes), the characters were well-drawn, and the story as a whole was just really epic.
But then the last 300 pages came around --- complete with a totally irrelevant side story that was so unnecessary that it must have been put in there just to add length (I guess the author really wanted to write a book with over 1000 pages), and a final twist that was so stupid that it had me roll my eyes thinking "You can't be serious!". Needless to say that those final 300 or so pages were more of a 2-star book.
So, basically, that would mean I'd have to give it 3.5 stars over all, but I'm gonna be nice and round it up to a 4-star rating since I did really enjoy the book for the most part ... ;o)