Thursday, August 20, 2009

Book Review: The Glassblower of Murano

I've been taking lounging about lately trying to enjoy the last few weeks of summer and one of my favourite summer indulgences is reading historical fiction. I love to be transported to another place and time as I was in the novel The Glassblower of Murano.

In this fictional tale, Leonora Manin leaves her disasterous marriage in London behind to start over in the city of Venice as a glassblower. Leonora secures a job based on the fact that she is a descendant of Corradino Manin, a renowned glassblower of the 17th century. At that time in history, Venetian mirrors were more precious than gold and the secrets of their craft were jealously guarded by the murderous Council of Ten. Corradino risks all to achieve his freedom and sells his methods to Louis XIV to create the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles. The two stories are interwoven to create a tale as enchanting as the city of Venice itself.

I've only been to Venice once, many years ago, and yet, this book made me feel like I'd recently visited the famed city. I was drawn into this well-crafted tale of intrigue and felt compelled to keep reading to find out what happened to Corradino and his descendants. As an artist, I appreciated the precise descriptions of glass-blowing, which sounds like both a difficult and dangerous art. The characters were well-rounded and the story believable. Almost as interesting were the after-notes including the author's own story of how she came to write this novel. If you didn't have the vacation that you hoped for this summer, pick up this book and you will feel like you've been to Venice.

Title: The Glassblower of Murano
Author: Marina Fiorato
Publisher: Beautiful Books Limited (UK) 2008
Category: Fiction
Price: US$13.95, Canada $17.95 (paperback)
Number of Pages: 348