Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Gondola Maker by Laura Morelli


From the author of Made in Italy comes a tale of artisanal tradition and family bonds set in one of the world's most magnificent settings: Renaissance Venice. 

When Luca Vianello, the heir to a renowned gondola-making enterprise, experiences an unexpected tragedy in the boatyard, he believes that his destiny lies elsewhere. Soon he finds himself drawn to restore an antique gondola with the dream of taking a girl for a ride. Lovers of historical fiction will appreciate the authentic details of gondola craftsmanship, along with an intimate first-person narrative set against the richly textured backdrop of 16th-century Venice.


The Gondola Maker is a unique novel set in 16th century Venice. Luca Vianello is the eldest son of a gondola maker. Like his father and grandfather before him, Luca is expected to inherit and run the family business. His parents want him to marry a girl in order to form an alliance between their two families. A tragic accident causes Luca to flee, leaving his family and the business behind. As he creates a future for himself, his personal journey becomes compelling and the knowledge of his craft is never out of his mind. 

Author Laura Morelli has delved deeply into the Venetian Republic and the historic craft of gondola making, not only describing the process, but also its history, why gondolas are black, why they were burned, and the strict code of the gondoliers with their secret language used to manuever the vessels through the numerous canals and waterways. The story flows beautifully, unimpeded by the details and historical research. It is all the lesser known details about Venice that truly makes this novel stand out among all others. Born with Venetian roots, I truly loved this story because of its compelling characters, vivid descriptions, and that it taught me much that I never knew before about this fascinating city.

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