Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Gondola Maker by Laura Morelli

The Gondola MakerAlmost 4 Stars

I really liked this book and I'm not entirely sure why.

As a whole, it wasn't particularly exciting. There's no mystery, intrigue, action and very little romance. And yet, I couldn't put it down.

As an artist, I was fascinated with the whole craftsman experience. Things like ship figureheads fascinate me so getting a birdseye view of gondola makers in the 1500s was awesome.

Through the author's writing, I could visualize Venice like I never had before. Because of the waterways throughout the city, gondolas were used for everything : as taxis, deliveries, messangers etc. So there were dozens (perhaps hundreds) of gondola makers in Venice (the skill passed from father to eldest son throughout generations) as well as oarmakers, ropemakers, the list goes on...

And then there were the artists that flourished in Venice during the 1500s...and the costume really must have been a fascinating place to live.

So if you're an "artsy" type of person, I think you would really like this as I did.

Now for the cons...

It was strange. The book is written in first person which I generally love because it allows me to 'get into' the character's mind. But in this story the main character, Luca, doesn't have much to say. And doesn't seem to waste too much time thinking either. So even when he is the center of action we feel as though we're observing from a distance. Kind of like a hovering insect.
Infact, we learn of most happenings through the talk and actions of other characters.
And yet I still cared what became of Luca. It was strange.

But at the end of the day, I would have liked more loose ends cleared up. In some ways the ending was satisfying in that we know things will be ok for the main character, and yet I felt a bit cheated. Its like accompanying someone on a long journey on a train and just when they come to the finale of their life story they say "ok! This is my stop, enjoy the rest of your trip". And off they go without you. And you never know what happens.

The book left me scrambling and searching for an epilogue which wasn't there. I don't want to GUESS what happens. I want to KNOW. FRUSTRATING.

No sex scenes but there is mention of both male and female prostitution. Also, at one point a young woman tries to seduce Luca.
Very mild (in English) but I suspect there were several in Italian which I just didn't understand.


Many thanks to netgalley for a free e-copy to review

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