Thursday, 19 October 2017

The Gondola Maker by Laura Morelli

The Gondola Maker by Laura Morelli
Self published in America in March 2014.

How I got this book:
Took advantage of a free Amazon download

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Venetian gondola-maker Luca Vianello considers his whole life arranged. His father charted a course for his eldest son from the day he was born, and Luca is positioned to inherit one of the city's most esteemed boatyards. But when Luca 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.

The Gondola Maker brings the centuries-old art of gondola-making to life in the tale of a young man's complicated relationship with his master-craftsman father. 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.

I was invited to join an Italy Book Tours spotlight tour for Laura Morelli's new novel, The Painter's Apprentice, next month. That story takes place in the same historical Venice setting as The Gondola Maker and, on the strength of this first book, I am certainly looking forward to the next in the series!

The eponymous Gondola Maker, Luca, is the son of a boat-building family whose expertise, passed down through the generations, means his life expectations are limited to continuing the family business in which he has grown up. Unexpected - and very plausible - circumstances however see him cast out on his own and I loved how Morelli explores the concept of someone whose fate appeared predetermined now having an opportunity to choose their own path.

Luca is a sympathetic character, somewhat introverted which is unusual for a male lead. He has a keen eye so throughout the book we are treated to gloriously vivid descriptions of sixteenth-century Venice. I loved this aspect of the novel! I have visited Venice myself so particularly enjoyed imagining the colours, energy and aromas depicted! Morelli obviously has a great love for the city herself and this comes through, via Luca, in her writing. She must also have spent many hours researching this historical period and the craft of gondola building because this aspect of the novel always felt authentic and honest to tradition.

In reading The Gondola Maker, I was reminded of the historical richness of books by Tracy Chevalier and Jessie Burton. Perhaps this story does not quite have the intricacies and depth of of those authors' works, but it is a satisfying read with a strong sense of its place and time.

Etsy Find!
by Ferrari Soni Art in
Modena, Italy

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Books by Laura Morelli / Historical fiction / Books from America

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