Apr 18, 09
Read in April, 2009
I'm a fan of historical fiction, with authors such as Philippa Gregory, Kathleen Kent, Diana Gabaldon, and Sarah Dunant on my books read list. Also, I've visited Venice and am a fan of glass art, specifically Dale Chihuly's, so I was really looking forward to reading this book when I received the ARC I won in a Goodreads contest. The book weaves two stories, one set in the present about Leonora Manin from London, who comes to Venice hoping to be the first female master glassblower, and one about her ancestor Corradino Manin, who in a traitorous act to his home city state, sells his methods to King Louis XIV of France to protect his secret daughter.
The author did not disappoint me with her lyrical descriptions of the city of Venice and its island for the glassblowing industry, Murano. Also, the descriptions of the glassblowing itself showed a true appreciation of the art, and I'm sure the author has visited glass workshops and talked to glassblowers. I was fascinated with the tale of Corradino Manin, the reasons for his treachery and how it was carried out.
However, the modern-day tale of Leonora didn't capture my interest as much. I felt that more could have been made of the conflict with her rival glassblower Roberto and there could have been deeper tension in her relationship with Police Detective Alessandro. With an archrival lurking around and a detective ready to investigate any crime, I felt that the gun had been left on the mantle for all to see, and it wasn't used. Of course, being a mystery fan, I'm looking for mystery in all that I read. There was plenty to interest me in Corradino's story, but I felt Leonora's conflict could have been deeper.
I liked how author Fiorato weaved symbology through the intertwined stories and brought it all together in the end, a reflection of her story-telling skill. Because of this and Corradino's tale, I rated the book as 4 stars.