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Showing posts from April, 2008

Five more chick lit novels coming out this spring and summer

Love the One You're With, by Emily Giffin--May 13

Chasing Harry Winston, by Lauren Weisberger--May 27th.

The Beach House, by Jane Green--June 17th

This Charming Man, by Marian Keyes--June 17th

Queen of Babble Gets Hitched, by Meg Cabot--June 24th.

The people at my local library must be tired of me, what with all the holds I've placed on books recently!

Looking forward to reading...

Jack With a Twist, by Brenda Janowitz.

My TBR pile keeps getting bigger and bigger! Last summer, I had the good fortune to take a writing course with Brenda Janowitz, author of Scot on the Rocks: Or, How I Survived My Ex-Boyfriend’s Wedding With My Dignity Ever So Slightly Intact. In Scot on the Rocks, the main character, Brooke, attended her ex boyfriend’s wedding, only a short while after being dumped by her perfect Scottish boyfriend. She then takes her friend Jack along to pose as the Scottish boyfriend, with hilariously funny results.

Janowitz’s new book, Jack With a Twist, is coming out in July, and, from what I learned of from the author, it’s a continuation of Scot. It looks like its going to be another fun summer read.

Looking forward to reading...

The Age of Dreaming, by Nina Revoyr. Here’s the description of the book:

In her cunning follow-up to Southland, Revoyr returns to L.A., this time to when Sunset Boulevard was just a dirt road and Jun Nakayama was a famous silent film star. Prompted by a journalist's visit in 1964, 42 years after he left the screen for good, Jun revisits his youth in Japan, his discovery at L.A.'s Little Tokyo Theater, his rise to stardom and the scandalous events that led to his abrupt retreat from public life. Mixing real people with fictional characters like principled Japanese actress Hanako Minatoya, troubled starlet Elizabeth Banks (not the one in Seabiscuit), ingénue Nora Minton Niles and dashing director Ashley Bennett Tyler, Revoyr creates a vibrant portrait of a time when the film studio was a place of serious work. As Jun reveals the secrets he has kept for decades, he uncovers new twists in his own history and comes to terms with other painful experiences he has repressed, namely his…

(Another) meme

I borrowed this meme from Bookgirl, who borrowed it from other people. What you basically do is come up with an author for each letter of the alphabet. Here’s my list:
· A—Anderson, Kurt. Heyday
· B—Bronte, Charlotte. Jane Eyre
· C—Cox, Michael. The Meaning of Night
· D—Dreiser, Theodore. Sister Carrie
· E—Edgeworth, Maria. Belinda
· F—Fielding, Helen. Bridget Jones’s Diary
· G—Gissing, George. The Odd Women
· H—Harwood, Jon. The Ghost Writer
· I—Irving, John. The World According to Garp
· J—Janowitz, Brenda. Scot on the Rocks
· K—Kinsella, Sophie. Confessions of a Shopaholic
· L—Lee, Min Jin. Free Food for Millionaires
· M—Mitford, Nancy—The Pursuit of Love/ Love in a Cold Climate
· N—Nichols, John. The Milagro-Beanfield War
· O—Oates, Joyce Carol. Them
· P—Penman, Sharon Kay. The Sunne in Splendor
· Q—Quindlen, Anna—How Reading Changed My Life
· R—Rubenfeld, Jed. The Interpretation of Murder
· S—Suzann, Jacqueline. The Valley of the Dolls
· T—Toltz, Steve. A Fraction of the Whole
· U—
· V—Vine, Barbara.

Review: Excellent Women, by Barbara Pym

I was introduced to Barbara Pym’s work through a Shelfari group I belong to. Everyone in that group is just mad about her, so I felt inspired to read her too, to see what all the fuss was about.

Excellent Women is the story of Mildred Lathbury. Actually, the book isn’t so much about Mildred as it is about the people around her; Mildred, one of the “excellent women,” has a sharp eye for detail and a subtle kind of wit. Unmarried, she lives and works in London and is heavily involved in church activities. The other major characters are Helena and Rocky Napier, a couple whose relationship is on the rocks, as well as Everard Bone, a surly anthropologist. It’s a novel of romantic misadventures, with lively characters. Although the setting is bucolic, and the humor so subtle that at times it can’t be noticed, there’s something wonderful about the way the characters interact with one another. This was my first Pym; now I’m hooked. Also reviewed by: Bell Literary Reflections

Booking Through Thursday challenge

Do your reading habits change in the Spring? Do you read gardening books? Even if you don’t have a garden? More light fiction than during the Winter? Less? Travel books? Light paperbacks you can stick in a knapsack?

Or do you pretty much read the same kinds of things in the Spring as you do the rest of the year?

Answer: This is actually a tough one. Sometimes I do try to read "seasonally"--ie, I'll read a short chick lit novel in the spring or summer and the "heavier" books in the fall and winter. But lately I've just been trying to get through what's on my nightstand. As the summer approaches, I might read some lighter stuff, but only if my current load lightens first.

Another challenge!

OK, so I joined another challenge (smiles guiltily). Hey, I’m a receptionist, I have a lot of time on my hands! This time it’s a blogging challenge instead of simply reading. The challenge is hosted by Dewey over at The Hidden Side of a Leaf, and the rules are as follows:

1. Every week there’ll be a different theme. One week might be “catch up on your library books” week and the next might be “redecorate your blog week” or “organize your challenges” week or “catch up on your reviews” week. It’ll be fairly bookblogcentric, but not exclusively.
2. Everyone who joins agrees that they will try to check each week to see what the theme is, although they DO NOT have to participate each week, only when they feel like it.
3. Everyone who joins is welcome (encouraged, begged!) to send Dewey ideas for weekly themes via email, comments, whatever. The more ideas, the better.
4. Dewey will post the weekly theme each Saturday, but you can check in any time it’s convenient to find out what the theme is.
5…

Unwittingly, I've joined a challenge.

The detailed rules can be found on Bottle of Shine's blog; the challenge is called 342,745 Ways to Herd Cats.

So here's my list of ten books:
1. The Thirteenth Tale, by Diane Setterfield--destined to be a classic, about the mysterious life of a famous author.
2. The Sunne in Splendour, by Sharon Kay Penman--historical fiction about the life of Richard III. It's a long book, but absolutely fascinating.
3. The Meaning of Night, by Michael Cox--again, historical fiction, set in Victorian London.
4. The House at Riverton, by Kate Morton--upstairs-downstairs historical fiction about the mysterious death of an author, told from the point of view of a servant in the household.
5. Confessions of a Shopaholic, by Sophie Kinsella--chick lit, essentially; hillariously funny novel about a woman who loves to shop. First in a series.
6. Sin in the Second City, by Karen Abbott--historical nonfiction about two sisters who ran a brothel in Chicago in the 1890s.
7. I Was Told There'd Be Cake, b…

Author plug: Sharon Kay Penman

Any casual reader of my reviews knows that I love historical fiction. One of my favorite authors in this genre is Sharon Kay Penman, whose When Christ and His Saints Slept I’m reading right now. It’s the first book in a trilogy that includes Time and Chance (2002) and Devil’s Brood (to be published in October 2008). Of course, I’m going to be first in line when the new book comes out. The trilogy focuses on the lives of royalty in the twelfth century, specifically the Empress Maude and Eleanor of Aquitaine.


In addition, the covers of some of Penman’s books are undergoing a facelift; here’s the cover of Here Be Dragons, a novel of thirteenth century Wales:

Review: Lucia: A Venetian Life in the Age of Napoleon, by Andrea Di Robilant

Lucia: A Venetian Life in the Age of Napoleon begins where Andrea Di Robilant’s A Venetian Affair left off. Lucia Mocenigo, one of the author's ancestors, was the eldest daughter of Andrea Memmo, and she married at seventeen into one of the best-known patrician families in Venice. When the Republic fell in 1797 to Napoleon, Lucia went to Vienna, where she became friends with Josephine Bonaparte. Later, Lucia moved back to Venice, where she became Byron’s landlord. She died in the 1850s, when she was in her 80s.

Lucia is a compelling look into the life of an intriguing woman. She was at the heart of European political change, as her letters to her husband and sister show. What Di Robilant does successfully in this book, as he did in A Venetian Affair, is bring the event s and people to life. Everything Lucia, her husband Alvise, and her son Alvisetto, do is documented here with precision. Sometimes with too much precision: when her son was a teenager, Lucia obsessively worried over…

Review: I Was Told There'd Be Cake, by Sloane Crosley

I was Told There’d Be Cake is a series of essays by sometimes-contributor to the Village Voice Sloane Crosley. There are fifteen essays total, and they cover typical twenty-something subjects, such as moving into a new walkup apartment in New York City (not as easy as it would appear), attending the wedding of every girl you knew in high school that you’d forgotten about (been there, done that), a semidysfunctional family (her family IS my family), and a satanic first boss.

Sloane Crosley tells these stories with humor and insight and she has a truly unique voice. But there were also times where I found myself thinking, “I think the same way!” Or, “I wish I’d thought of that!” It’s a completely honest, open kind of storytelling, one that you don’t see in many writers of today. Being a twenty-something myself, I could completely empathize with this book—made even better if you understand the cultural references (Oregon Trail, anyone?) This book is a complete gem, and my new bible. Also …

Review: Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey

I was introduced to Josephine Tey through a group I belong to on Shelfari.com. We have an informal book group and discussion, and this is our most recent selection. It’s the first Tey I’ve read, and it won’t be the last. It features a character who apparently recurs in several of her novels, Inspector Alan Grant of the Scotland Yard.

Laid up after suffering a broken leg, Grant tries to dispel the boredom by trying to solve an unsolved crime: the mysterious disappearance of the two princes in the Tower in the fifteenth century. Using the evidence presented to him, Grant and his research associate from the British Museum come up with a satisfactory and believable solution to a problem that has puzzled people for over five hundred years.

One thing I found difficult to believe in this mystery was the fact that Grant knew so little about the history of his own country. For example, he didn’t recognize a famous portrait of Richard III on sight. And that he was easily convinced by Thomas More’…

Review: Luncheon of the Boating Party, by Susan Vreeland

Luncheon of the Boating Party is a truly excellent book. Set in the Summer of 1880 in Paris and Chatou, the novel follows the story of the famous painting by Auguste Renoir, now in the Phillips Collection in DC. Egged on by an article written by Emile Zola, Renoir begins painting an idyllic scene on the balcony of the Maison Fournaise, of thirteen friends.
The story is intriguing because it’s told from the point of view not just of Renoir, but the models in the painting. We’re introduced, for example, to Augustine Fournaise, daughter of the owner of the restaurant, and Gustave Caillebotte the artist. We also meet Aline Charigot, the seamstress who later married Renoir. The iconic painting represents a mingling of classes as they devote a Sunday to the pursuit of leisure.
In all of this, Vreeland creates a beautiful novel that combines the realistic with the idealistic. We’re also introduced to the fascinating artistic process Renoir’s mind went through. It’s a well-written and research…

Review--Austenland, by Shannon Hale

Austenland is the story of Jane Hays, a thirty-two year old woman is is more than mildly obsessed with Jane Austen, especially the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. When her elderly great-aunt dies, she leaves Jane with an unusual and bizarre bequest: a three week vacation to live out of one of Austen’s novels, to step back into the year 1816 and have a romantic adventure of one’s own. It’s a cute, creative premise, but one that doesn’t hold up well in this book.

First of all, the characters were all shallow stereotypes, completely cookie-cutter and unbelievable. It’s difficult for me to believe that Jane could be so delusional and NOT have a good therapist standing behind her. Jane is completely unlike any successful New York woman I know. In addition, her “romance” was completely unconvincing (“Mr. Nobly” needs some acting lessons, it would seem). And bizarre. The setting, both in New York and LA, is vaguely sketched and seems isolated from the outside. And yet, Jane never seems to…

Another author extraordinaire--Laurie Notaro

Another one of my favorite authors is Laurie Notaro. Like Jen Lancaster, she’s a memoirist, writing about her life in short, sweet chunks of funny. Notaro’s had six books published, beginning with The Idiot Girls’ Action-Adventure Club. She has a new book coming out on June 24th, called The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death: Reflections on Revenge, Germophobia and Laser Hair Removal. Although I’ve been unable to find out anything about the book, I believe it’s going to be another collection of essays. Laurie Notaro’s books are pure brain candy, perfect for hot summer days.

A bad case of the reading blues

Do you ever have those moments where you just can’t finish a book? It’s been like that for me, and not necessarily because the books were bad. It’s just that I haven’t been able to truly focus, or to find a book that really hooks me.

It was like that with a book called The Master of Verona, by David Blixt. It’s about Dante, but there’s a lot of Shakespearean elements in it. It’s been reviewed pretty well, and the writing is good, but I couldn’t bring myself to read past page 35. Same with a book by Vanora Bennett called Portrait of an Unknown Woman. It features Thomas More’s adopted daughter. Since I love fiction (and non) set in this period, I began reading this with high expectations. But my attention wasn’t completely caught by it. Ever had a moment such as this?

I’m having better luck with Susan Vreeland’s Luncheon of the Boating Party, about Renoir and the famous painting of the same name. I’m about halfway through right now, and I’ll tell you what I think when I finish.

Jen Lancaster, author extraordinaire

Two years ago, Jen Lancaster made her non-fiction debut with Bitter is the New Black: Confessions of a Condescending, Egomaniacal, Self-Centered Smartass, Or Why You Should Never Carry a Prada Bag to the Unemployment Office. The book is a howlingly funny account of how the author all of a sudden found herself unemployed—and how she coped with it.
Her follow up, Bright Lights, Big Ass: A Self-Indulgent, Surly Ex-Sorority Girl’s Guide to Why it Often Sucks in the City, or Who Are These Idiots and Why Do They All Live Next Door to Me? is all about Life in the Big City. What I love about her books—really, two collections of essays—is that she never hesitates to make fun of herself—and everyone around her. She’s so funny you can forgive her for her meanness.

In May, Jen Lancaster returns with a third dose of humor and bitingly sharp wit: the title of her new book is Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist’s Quest to Discover if Her Ass Looks Big, Or Why Pie Is Not the Answer (gotta love those sub…

More of what I'm looking forward to reading

One of the books on my nightstand right now, begging to be read, is Andrea DiRobilant’s Lucia: A Venetian Life in the Age of Napoleon, the follow-up to A Venetian Affair. This time, Di Robilant writes about Andrea Memmo’s daughter, Lucia Mocinego She lived during the last days of the Venetian Republic, and married into a widely-known Venetian family that produced several doges over a period of three hundred years. She spent many years outside of Venice, and became involved in the goings-on at Napoleon's court. Later, back in Venice, Lucia became Lord Byron's landlady. The book has gotten good reviews on Amazon.com, I loved A Venetian Affair, and I'm a bit of a hsitory dork, so I’m especially looking forward to reading this one.

Review--So Brave, Young, and Handsome, by Leif Enger

So Brave, Young, and Handsome, to be published on April 22, is about a failed writer, Monte Becket, living in Minnesota with his wife and son. One day, he meets aging outlaw Glendon Hale, and agrees to run with him. Eventually, they are joined by sixteen-year-old Hood Roberts, automobile repairman-turned-criminal. They are chased by the seasoned ex-Pinkerton Charlie Siringo (who was in fact, a real historical figure who did indeed hunt down Butch Cassidy’s Wild Bunch, and was one of the first detectives to operate undercover).

Siringo turns out to be the most intriguing character, and one gets the impression that Enger enjoyed writing fictionally about him. The other three main characters aren’t nearly so well drawn as he is. There are scenes where Siringo appears literally from nowhere, which sent chills down my spine.

But all the characters were enjoyable to read about. I’m not normally a reader of Westerns or books with Western themes, but I was completely engrossed by this book. Eng…

Author event--Michael Gruber

Last night, I went to see Michael Gruber (author of The Book of Air and Shadows, also author of the more recently published The Forgery of Venus) read and sign his books at Partners & Crime bookstore in the Village. I have to admit here and now that I’ve never read anything he’s written, but I went anyways because, well, book readings are my idea of fun.

The talk Gruber gave was pretty casual and liberally sprinkled with humor--literally, toilet humor. He began by talking about art—The Forgery of Venus is about forging a Velazquez painting, and how a forger not only wants to paint like someone, they actually want to be that painter. This, apparently, is one of the major themes of the novel. Then Gruber gave us a history of western art in about three minutes, beginning with the caves at Lascaux and ending with the urinal that was submitted as artwork in the 1920s.

Gruber joked about the fact that all his books have “of” in the title—it’s marketing, not him, who decides what the title…

Review--The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, by Syrie James

It’s tempting to create a story about Jane Austen's romantic life, considering that she was so private about her personal life. In The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, Syrie James creates a lively, likeable, and realistic heroine that stays true to what I think Austen must have been like.

Set in the time period in which Jane Austen was revising Sense and Sensibility, Jane introduces us to Frederick Ashford, a charming gentleman she meets one day at Lyme. They instantly form an attachment, but nothing comes of it until one day two years later, when they encounter one another quite unexpectedly. Syrie James acquaints the reader with many real and imagined characters, who may or may not have served as inspiration for characters in her novels (particularly delightful in his foolishness is Mr. Morton, who “becomes” Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice).

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen is a cute, charming tale of “what if…” What was the source of Jane’s inspiration? What really happened that ga…

Review--The House at Riverton, by Kate Morton

I received an ARC of this book through the Amazon Vine early reviewing program about a month ago, but because I had so many other books on my plate to read and review, I never got around to The House at Riverton. Even then, I kind of stalled. And I wonder why I waited so long. The House at Riverton is a truly excellent book.

Set around the Hartford family right before, during, and after World War I, The House at Riverton is told from the point of view of Grace Bradley, who comes to Riverton at the age of fourteen to be a housemaid there. At first, I thought the book was simply going to be an exposé of the upstairs-downstairs world of pre-war England, but ultimately the book turned out to be something quite different. As an outsider, Grace is instantly drawn to the two Hartford girls, Hannah and Emmeline, two distinctly different sisters who are very close to one another. But In 1924 the lives of everyone at Riverton are changed when a shocking suicide is committed there.

The back cover…

Author event--Jennifer Cody Epstein, Joanna Hershon, and Hillary Jordan

Last night I went to a book reading at the Housing Works Bookstore. Located on Crosby Street in SoHo, its a used bookstore associated with the Housing Works thrift stores that uses its proceeds to contribute towards fighting AIDS. The bookstore itself is one of the coolest bookstores I’ve ever been in, with a half-level upstairs with a spiral staircase, and a café at the back.

Three authors read from their work, then answered a few questions and signed their books. It was an evening of historical fiction; the authors were Jennifer Cody Epstein (author of The Painter From Shanghai, about a Chinese post-Impressionist painter), Joanna Hershon (The German Bride, about a German Jewish woman in Santa Fe in the 1860s), and Hillary Jordan (Mudboud; about the Mississippi Delta after WWII). After they read, the authors talked a little bit about where they got their inspiration from, and about their writing processes. As a writer myself, its always interesting to hear how other writers write.

Review--Silent in the Grave, by Deanna Raybourn

Silent in the Grave is a thrilling Victorian mystery that begins with one of the best novel openers I’ve ever read: "To say that I met Nicholas Brisbane over my husband's dead body is not entirely accurate. Edward, it should be noted, was still twitching upon the floor." From there, I knew I was going to be in for quite a ride. And Deanna Raybourn does not disappoint.

No sooner is Sir Edward Gray dead then a mysterious stranger implies to his widow, Lady Julia, that her husband might have been murdered. A year later, Lady Julia unwittingly re-opens the case when she stumbles across a mysterious note shoved in a back drawer of his desk that awakens her curiosity. She and Nicholas Brisbane embark upon a dangerous search for the killer.

Don’t expect this to be your typical murder mystery. Everyone who lives in the Grey house has a secret to hide, not the least of whom was Sir Edward. I’ve read enough mysteries to flatter myself that I can figure out the solution to one before…

Review--Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler

In Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, Courtney Stone, a modern LA girl, wakes up to find herself in the body of Jane Mansfield, a thirty-year-old single woman living in Regency England. Courtney, who back in LA was nursing a bad breakup with alcohol and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, finds herself nearly appropriating Jane’s life.

The one thing this book has going for it is humor. Courtney’s reactions to certain situations in which she finds herself were told with a style that made me laugh out loud. It’s a fast-paced novel that had me quickly turning pages. And there’s no lack of plot here.

But I thought some of the characters were a little bit weak. We don’t learn very much about Courtney’s life back in LA until the halfway point of the book, when I thought that information could have been given earlier. Jane’s relationship with Mr. Edgeworth seemed a little bit constrained (but maybe that was the nature of 19th-century romantic relationships). The names Rigler used for her char…

Book news on Philippa Gregory's latest

I’ve just discovered that Philippa Gregory, author of the bestselling The Other Boleyn Girl, is coming out with a new novel in September. The book is called The Other Queen (it’s tough to keep Gregory’s book titles straight, considering they’re all very similar), and it’s about Mary, Queen of Scots and her imprisonment in England. Mary's quite an interesting historical figure, and one of the most misunderstood (she was implicated in the death of her second husband, Henry, Lord Darnley, and was eventually thought to be unfit to rule. Actually, she was a good person who made an appalling number of bad decisions, as evidenced in Alison Weir's excellent book about the murder of Lord Darnley). The cover not withstanding (it looks as though it could be the cover for a science fiction/fantasy novel)., I always love Philippa Gregory’s books because of the way she expertly takes the lives of well-known historical figures and makes them into "real" people. The Other Queen will…

The death of the independent bookstore?

It has come to my attention that there’s a literary agency called BookEnds (whose blog is listed on my sidebar because it’s a really, really interesting look at what agents look for when the look to take on a new author). Anyways, I may have to change the title of this blog, so if anyone has any suggestion, leave a comment and I’ll consider it. I’m afraid this blog has become just another run-of-the-mill book blogs, so I need a title that really grabs the reader’s attention.

The other day I was talking to an acquaintance where the conversation turned to independent bookstores and the sad demise of them. This subject has of course been a topic of conversation for a long time, and with the meteoric rise of e-retailers, won't get any better. My acquaintance told me the following story: she was in search of a relatively rare book that he local indie bookstore didn’t have. Rather than let my acquaintance go to Barnes and Noble or Borders, or even Amazon.com, the clerk recommended she tr…

I fall for the cover every time

This time the book in question is Holly Would Dream, by Karen Quinn (author of The Ivy Chronicles, about the cut-throat world of prep school admissions in New York City), another chick lit book coming out in paperback in June. Again, another book that looks like it will be a fun summer read, whose Audrey Hepburn-esque cover I fell in love with immediately (Unfortunately, I can't seem to find this book on Shelfari.com; when I went to add it to my list of books to be read, my search turned up every edition of A Midsummer Night's Dream ever printed in the last fifty years, plus a novel called Do Andriods Dream of Electric Sheep?).

Here's what the novel seems to be about, according to Karen Quinn's website, Karenquinn.net:

Not a day goes by that Holly Ross doesn’t regret missing out on her big Hollywood break. But, having abandoned dreams of movie stardom, her new career as a fashion historian is beginning to reap rewards. About to be married and with a big promotion promise…

Review--Crossed, by Nicole Galland

Crossed is a complicated novel about the failed Fourth Crusade of 1202-4. Featuring an unnamed British musician and jack-of-all-trades as part-narrator, Gregor of Mainz, a religious knight whose diary also makes up the narration, his brother Otto, and a mysterious princess named Jamila, the novel begins in Venice, when the Briton saves Jamila from an unpleasant fate. The reader then accompanies the Crusade across Europe, from Venice to Zara to Constantinople.

I found it tough work to get through Crossed. There were times when I felt that my attention was flagging. There’s not much of Nicole Galland’s trademark wit here, and I felt that sometimes the narrative was missing pieces here and there. Galland knows the world of the thirteenth centuryl, and perhaps a little too well. Both of her previous books were set in this time period, and I’m afraid that she’s fallen into a little bit of a comfort zone. We get a lot of political history here, but it’s a little dry and bland.

I didn’t really…

Review--The Venetian Mask, by Rosalind Laker

On the surface, The Venetian Mask is about love and friendship, and what one will do for them. In this novel, set in late-18th century Venice when the Venetian Republic was on the verge of collapse, two friends, Marietta and Elena, come together at the Ospedale della Pieta, where both are choir girls. Eventually both fall in love, but ultimately end up marrying men who are bitter rivals: Marietta marries the politically revolutionary (and practically a soothsayer) Domenica Torrisi, head of the Torrisi family, and Elena marries the cruel patriarch of the Celano clan, Filippo. Both women navigate their way through their respective marriages while ultimately trying to stay true to one another.

The major, obvious plus about the book is its setting. Venice here is much more than a place; it’s a character, too, and it leaps off the page. We witness everything that makes La Serenissima great, from Carnivale to the Marriage of the Sea ceremony, to the Inquisition and the inner workings of the …