Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Secret of the Glass Book Review


First Line:  The scalding heat rose up before her, reaching deep insider her like a selfish lover grasping for her soul. 

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 forces them to live on the island of Murano, their movements closely guarded. When three glassmakers secretly try to flee their restrictive life, they are found murdered. No one can escape these restrictions.

Sophia Fiolario is the eldest daughter of a wealthy glassmaker who has no sons to inherit his highly successful factory. Sophia has a special bond with her father and is passionate about the art of glassmaking. But women are prohibited from learning the mysteries of this highly classified art. It is considered a crime and the penalties are severe and destructive. It can ruin their family and the carefully cultivated reputation of their factory. Sophia has learned the art covertly from her father, the truth of which they must keep highly guarded, even from their own family.
A marriage is arranged between Sophia and an elder impoverished nobleman who will inherit the glass factory upon Sophia’s father’s death. The family cannot refuse even though the nobleman is cruel and uncaring. Sophia knows it will mean an end to the idyllic life she knows and the end to her furtive glassmaking ventures. While in the throes of the loveless betrothal, Sophia encounters one man who opens her heart and holds the key to her future happiness.

Donna Russo Morin has written a majestic novel, breathtaking in its prose, and sweeping in its scope, about 17th century Venice at the height of its glory. What left me most in awe about this novel, was the highly detailed descriptions of the scenery, streets, architecture and famous people like Galileo himself. It literally transports you to Venice with all its beautiful sights.

The characters had depth and realism with scores of emotions. I literally fell into the story as if I lived and breathed the same air as Sophia and her family and friends. From its festivals and government, life in Venice is masterfully rendered. Ms. Morin is a master storyteller and this is one of best written novels of Venice I have ever read. For lovers of Venetian history, or aficionados of the 17th century, this is one novel worth reading. But you’ll have to wait a little. The novel is scheduled for release early in 2010.

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