Author: Laura Morelli
Publisher: Self published
Type of book: 1581-1582, art, gondola, Italy, tradition, Venice, romance, day-to-day life, gondolier, gondola-crafting, debt
Year it was published: 2014
In 16th-century Venice, the heir to a family boatyard rejects his destiny but is drawn to restore an old gondola with the dream of taking a girl for a ride.
Luca Vianello is the heir to the city’s most esteemed gondola-making family. But when an accidental tragedy strikes the boatyard, Luca believes his true calling lies elsewhere. Readers will appreciate the authentic details of gondola craftsmanship along with a captivating tale of artisanal tradition and family bonds set in one of the world’s most magnificent settings: Renaissance Venice.
Morelli creates poignantly convincing characters in this handsome coming-of-age novel about adoration, pain, and destiny.
--Publisher’s Weekly starred review
Historical fiction at its best.
--Midwest Book Review
Laura Morelli holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University and is the author of Made in Italy.
Somehow the author created characters that stayed in the present, and where I focused more on "today" of the book rather than the past and the future. The characters are well rounded and interesting too. Luca Vianello/Fabris is a very talented left-handed Gondola maker who is forced to give up his craft and has to try something else. He is reliable, shy when it comes women, and there is something endearing about him. There is also Giuliana, a banker's daughter that comes to rely to on Luca and assigns him different tasks to complete. Her emotions towards Luca are mysterious and not well known. She also has a small dog and only desires to help her family. Other characters include the artist Trevisan who is extremely talented but has a bad luck with gondoliers and also doesn't want to get married and is dedicated to his craft; then there's Luca's father who is completely devoted to creating gondolas, Luca's mother who also happened to be left handed and a gentle spirit and few other memorable characters.
Don't fight your destiny
At least 99 percent of the book is written in first person narrative from Luca's point of view, while a small percentage is written from the Councilor's point of view. While the two threads to intersect eventually, I kind of feel that the Councilor didn't really add much to the story. I also personally would have liked to observe a certain scene between Luca and Guiliana instead of just being told about it.
Laura Morelli earned a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University, where she was a Bass Writing Fellow and an Andrew W. Mellon Doctoral Fellow. She has taught college art history in the U.S. and at Trinity College in Rome. She is the creator of the authentic guidebook series that includes Made in Italy, Made in France, and Made in the Southwest, published by Rizzoli. Laura is a frequent contributor to National Geographic Traveler and other national magazines and newspapers. A native of coastal Georgia, she is married and is busy raising four children. The Gondola Maker is her first work of fiction.
Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65QNfn8zEOk
This is a slow and meticulous well-written book. As a reviewer mentioned on goodreads, it doesn't have elements that would be considered exciting page-turners such as hidden secrets or mystery or murder and so forth, but what it does have is a strange gripping beauty of its own, something akin to studying a sunset for the long time and not being able to look away. I really enjoyed the pacing of the story as well as the story itself, and how fascinating the life of gondoliers is. What might slightly help is having a short dictionary of Italian words and their definitions because I do admit that I got lost a little with some Italian words. The book is well researched and well-written and if you're looking for a read to slow down and enjoy, then this is the right book.
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