Wednesday, May 28, 2014
The Gondola Maker by Laura Morelli
3.5 out of 5 stars -- the beauty of this book is not in the tale of the fictional young man, Luca Vianello, but in the detail about 16th century Venice and the life of tradesmen and artisans in the early Renaissance. I loved reading about the city and the processes involved in the construction of the gondolas - a true labor of love blended with many other skills. The canals come alive with descriptions of the gondoliers and I could all but see, hear, taste, smell and smell the glory of the city during that time and place in history.
Luca Vianello was set to become a gondola maker as heir to the family business, but he longs to be freed from this legacy and to find out what it is that he is really meant to do -- surely there is something else out there. After a fateful fire and an argument with his father, Luca is homeless on the waterways of Venice and eventually finds employment as a private boatman for a famous artist. He discovers an old gondola in storage and begins to work on it, ultimately finding redemption and purpose. A series of events once again causes him to lose everything that is valuable, until he gets a last minute reprieve from an unexpected source, bringing him full circle. Along the way, there's a girl. As I said, the weakest part of the story was Luca as it seems to me that the real beauty of this novel is the way that the people of Venice come to life in the prose and minutiae. The author did a fantastic job of putting the reader beside the characters to allow us to experience the wonder that was Venice.
I read this novel almost immediately after reading The Venetian Bargain by Marina Fiorato so the Gondola Maker was a great followup as the time period comes directly after the Black Death had again decimated the city.
I'd recommend it to anyone interested in the fine arts as well as in this period of Venetian history. Thank you to NetGalley and Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) Members' Titles for the e-book ARC to review.