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The Secret of the Glass

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  253 ratings  ·  39 reviews
The Murano glassmakers of Venice are celebrated and revered. But now three are dead, killed for attempting to leave the city that both prized their work and kept them prisoner. For in this, the 17th century, the secret of their craft must, by law, never leave Venetian shores. Yet there is someone who keeps the secret while defying tradition. She is Sophia Fiolario, and she ...more
Paperback, 408 pages
Published March 1st 2010 by Kensington Publishing Corporation (first published 2010)
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3.45  · 
Rating details
 ·  253 ratings  ·  39 reviews

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I'll admit it --- the gorgeous cover made me buy this book. The premise sounded interesting, as well, but it was mainly the cover (which is really one of the most beautiful I've ever seen for a historical fiction novel).

Unfortunately, the writing was dry and stilted, and the dialogue was really bad. The characters were sketchy --- I didn't feel like I really learned much about any of them.

I gave up halfway through the book --- I could just not make myself finish this one.
Feb 07, 2010 rated it liked it

Donna Russo Morin tackles seventeenth century Venice in her newest novel, The Secret of the Glass. She writes of many underlying themes while she tells the story of Sophia, a girl who is doomed to marry a nobleman against her wishes. She is the eldest child of a glassmaking family, and as such, she is the only daughter that is allowed to marry, bringing with her the inheritance of the lucrative glass factory that has been in heritage for years. The remaining daughters will be forced to enter a c
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2013
When I finished this book, I only felt immense relief. It was so dry, I took twice as long as usual to read it. While it was clear Morin paid exquisite attention to detail and tried to acquaint the reader to 17th century Venice, it was educational, but there was lack of life infused to the book - it read more like a dry textbook. I've learnt a lot about Venice, but took nothing away from the characters, which was what I'd have wanted more.

Also, what was with the about-turn of one of the major ch
Tara Chevrestt
Nov 24, 2009 rated it did not like it
Having read The Courtier's Secret and enjoyed it for the most part, I gladly forked over ten dollars to Amazon for this book and gleefully picked it up. A quarter into it, I realized I wasted my money. WAY too many adjectives. I don't need to know a building's entire history as well as facade and color. Who cares how the dresses blow in the wind exactly?? One word would be adequate. I don't need nine. The prose.. tho I realize these are not women of the 21st century, they are a good 16, 17 years ...more
Penny Ramirez
Mar 26, 2011 rated it it was ok
Ugh. There are many reasons why I don't much like historical fiction, and this book pretty much had them all. I guess it was 2.5 stars - I sort of liked parts of it. Far too much descriptive language - excessive descriptions of clothing and locations. Crappily edited grammar. Are there no editors on this planet anymore? Sigh.

Not exactly sure why this was considered in a romance contest - yes, there was a romance in the book, but it was by FAR not the main plot line, and only barely a HEA.
James Sajo
Mar 18, 2013 rated it did not like it
Pretty good story, but the writing style is too close to romance novel for me. Too much simile and metaphor that seemed over-the-top-bosom-heaving for my taste. Three or four chapters were straight out of the romance genre. Best part was the epilogue...
Sep 26, 2010 rated it it was ok
It took to long to get me hooked. It was okay.
Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
Kept getting distracted
I just could not get into this book--the author uses far too many unnecessary adjectives and forced metaphors.
Romancing the Book
Apr 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, historical
Review by Stephanie

The Murano glassmakers of Venice are celebrated and revered. But now three are dead, killed for attempting to leave the city that both prized their work and kept them prisoner. For in this, the 17th century, the secret of their craft must, by law, never leave Venetian shores. Yet there is someone who keeps the secret while defying tradition. She is Sophia Fiolario, and she, too, is a glassmaker. Her crime is being a woman --Sophia is well aware that her family would be crushed
Karielle at Books à la Mode
Dec 20, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: blog
Blurb: The Murano glassmakers of Venice are celebrated and revered. But now three are dead, killed for attempting to leave the city that both prized their work and kept them prisoner. For in this, the 17th century, the secret of their craft must, by law, never leave Venetian shores. Yet there is someone who keeps the secret while defying tradition. She is Sophia Fiolario, and she, too, is a glassmaker. Her crime is being a woman --Sophia is well aware that her family would be crushed by scandal ...more
May 23, 2010 rated it really liked it
I tend to really enjoy historical fiction that deals with a specific craft, especially crafts of artistic merit. Take The Queen’s Dollmaker for example. I loved learning about the details of 18th century dollmaking and all the techniques involved in achieving what was then considered a masterpiece. The same thing goes for The Secret of the Glass. The aspect that intrigued me the most was the inclusion of the glassmaking process. Perhaps it is the artistic side of me or the intrinsic businesswoma ...more
Jeannie Mancini
Jun 19, 2010 rated it liked it
Donna Russo Morin's second historical novel "The Secret of the Glass" takes place in 17th century Venice among the courts and canals of Le Serenissima's Island of Murano. For centuries Murano has been renowned for the gorgeous and shimmering glass it creates. Many families have taught generation after generation, the secret of glass making, a secret forbidden to leave the island.

With polished writing and a penchant for historical detail, Morin tells her story of young Sophia, daughter of Murano
May 13, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Those interested in 17th century Venice.
The over use of simile was a stabbing annoyance throughout this book. Some flowed beautifully with the story but most jolted me out of the narrative every time they made an appearance. These occurred when a modification of the same sentence would have flowed better. They also did not quite fit into the narrative, evoking imagery that really had nothing to do with the scene and did not add any value to it.

A few examples:

Hidden deep within its bowels, like the putrid and grotesque underbelly of a
Nov 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
When author Donna Russo Morin contacted me about reading and reviewing her book The Secret of the Glass, I was tickled pink. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and I always enjoy delving into a story set in another time and place.

Set in Venice during the 17th century, The Secret of the Glass is a wonderfully woven story full of drama, romance and Venetian history.

Nineteen year old Sophia Fiolario comes from a family of glass makers, her father Zeno owns a successful glass making fa
May 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
For centuries, the talented Murano glassmakers of Venice have been distinguished and honoured. Their secrets to glassmaking closely guarded, their prized products highly sought after. Now, author Donna Russo Morin, has penned a novel that sweeps the reader into the 17th century world and lives of these secretive, revered artisans.

The Venetian government highly protects its glassmakers, their factories, and their families, for this is what brings wealth and fame to La Serenissima. Venetian law f
Heather C
Jan 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Sophia Fiolario is the daughter of one of the great glassmakers of Murano. The making of the glass is a secret that only the men of Murano are allowed to know or partake in – except one woman knows the secret – Sophia. Sophia is betrothed to marry a man that she despises and who really has no interest in her – except so that he can carry on his own interests. At the same time she falls in love with someone she can’t have. As her life starts to spiral out of control, Sophia worries as to what wil ...more
Nov 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Right from the start I knew I would be interested in reading THE SECRET OF THE GLASS. How could I pass up a novel on fabulous 17 c Venice and the art of glassmaking? I was hooked from the beginning. Sophia Fiolario, the eldest of Zeno Fiolario’s three daughters, learned the secret of this art.

Taught by her father, and with his comsent, Sophia dared to create the glass- but at a very dangerous price. Women were banned from working the glass and anyone discovered of doing so would risk imprisonmen
Aug 23, 2010 rated it liked it
In this second historical novel by author Donna Russo Morin, readers are welcomed to the luscious, secret world of 17th century Venice, where the Murano glassmakers create some of the most beautiful and most desirable glass in the world. The local authorities are so obsessed with keeping the process behind the glassmaking secret that they kill any glassmaker who dares to leave Venice.

After three glassmakers are killed for attempting to leave the city, the Murano glassmakers are in an uproar. Sop
Mar 07, 2010 rated it liked it
Sophia Fiolario is the daughter of the famous Fiolario glass makers. Her father is one of the most sought after glass makers. There is just one problem…for the past several years it has been Sophia and not her father who has been making the blown glass pieces. If any one were to ever learn that Sophia knew the secret of the glass there will be serious consequences.

Sophia’s parents plan to marry Sophia off to Pasquale da Fuligna. Sophia is devastated by the arrangement. First off, Pasquale is ol
Mar 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
Sophia Fiolario is the daughter of renown glass-maker Zeno Fiolario of Murano. This is the early 1600s and it is forbidden for glass-makers to leave Murano under punishment of death. Zeno has taught his daughter the secrets and she is making beautiful glassware during the night. If anyone should find out that a woman is making glass, there would be a huge scandal and Sophia's life could be in danger.

Zeno has started to show signs of dementia which would put his family at risk since there are no
Lori Anderson
I picked this book up because one, I'm a glass bead maker, and two, I lived for a short time in Venice, Italy. That being said, this book had a lot of potential, but fizzled short of that potential.

The biggest issue I had with the book was the constant use of Italian words, usually without any necessary reason to, and almost always without defining them. Fortunately, I know Italian, but for a reader who does not, this would almost certainly turn them off. I just didn't see WHY she had to insert
Sep 20, 2010 rated it liked it
A historical novel set in Renaissance Venice--a woman who is secretly working as a master glass blower--a deed that would ruin her social reputation and bring down the family--and filled with the history of Venice of that day. That's just what was a problem for me. I like to know the politics of the times and some of the key players, but this went on for pages and pages, and I think the love story just got lost. Sophie is now betrothed to a man who only wants her family money, who has clear inte ...more
May 04, 2013 rated it liked it
"What is it about some men's egos that forces them to say anything when they should say nothing at all?" - Galileo

"It is the duty of every human to live up to the potential that is inherently theirs at birth. Our destiny lies in our own hands. I cannot allow fear to alter my destiny." - Galileo

Sophia answered [Teodoro's] stare with her own. His naked honesty bewildered her. If sincere, he was an enigma, a conundrum amid a race of men who fought so ferociously for their veneer of virility. How st
May 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
If you have ever wanted to get to know the sumptuous, sophisticated, wealthy, not-quite-maiden aunt of the Harlequin Romance novels, this is the book for you!! A sensual, seductive read with enough history and glass blowing woven in to give the story some serious substance. Wonderful details and if you have ever been to Venice, even more enticing of a read. I was a little bit disappointed by the final 10 pages or so, however. Not that it wasn't a satisfying end to the tale, because it certainly ...more
Mar 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
This story was slow to start, but then became engaging and more enjoyable. It's much like Donna Russo Morin's other works so if you have read any others you will know what to expect. There is a heroine, who has a secret ability that places her outside expected gender norms of the setting, and there is a conflict which threatens her chance at love while exposing her "terrible" secret/ability. In this case it's the ability to create glass.

I liked it, I just wish there was a bit more romance and a
Jul 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2014
This book is not what I expected. And sometimes I liked it... and sometimes I didn't. There is all together too much random Italian thrown in. I understand that it is set in Italy... however it is written in English. And using random Italian words distracted me rather then made me feel more immersed. Especially the way they would throw the translation in as well.
Xondra Day
Dec 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: historical
I had to force myself to keep reading starting off. I felt like I was reading a history book rather than a novel. It took about 150 pages before the story started enough to interest me.

The constant use of Italian words also left me out of it since I didn't hardly know what any of them were. Excessive descriptions kept me skimming at times too.
Jul 28, 2014 rated it liked it
I've read a few books now that star female protagonists that are somewhat involved with the Venetian glassblowing industry and the research is spot on. The sections including Galileo were interesting too.
What I wasn't really sold on was the rushed happy ending with romance that fizzled and didn't sizzle.
Jun 07, 2011 rated it it was ok
I had a harder time getting into this book. It was full of details and the story would almost stall out before it picked up again. The author threw in a lot of Italian words and while i know the intent was to sink the reader into the Italian culture it actually made it more difficult. It was ok= definitely not one of my favorites by any means!
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 09, 2015 10:48AM  

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Donna Russo Morin is the award winning of author of historical fiction. A graduate of the University of Rhode Island, she lives near the ocean, her greatest muse. Her two sons, Devon and Dylan--an opera singer and chef--are still her greatest works in progress.

Donna enjoys meeting with book groups in person and via Skype chat. Visit her website at;
friend her on Facebook at