For many years Sarah Dunant presented the late show. She is also the author of seven crime novels and creator of her famous sleuth, Hannah Wolfe.
I found this book much, much more enjoyable than I expected it to be, so it was a really pleasant surprise. This is in no way a slight on the writing capabilities of the author, who has proved her calibre with several previous offerings. The problem was that initially the subject matter of the book did not really appeal to me, but my mind was soon changed.
The book is about life in Renaissance Italy and begins with the sacking of the eternal city of Rome by the armies of the Holy Roman Emperor and the subsequent journey of the courtesan Fiammetta Bianchini and her dwarf companion Bucino, as they leave Rome with their stomachs full of the jewels they have swallowed and head for the city of Venice. How they manage to infiltrate themselves into Venetian society.
Together they make the ideal partnership. On the one hand the quick witted and intelligent Bucino, on the other his mistress Fiammetta, a beautiful woman, trained in the art of entertaining and satisfying men who have the money to support her.
This is a story of desire, deception, sin, loyalty, in fact everything that men and women bring out in one another, sometimes with heartbreaking and devastating consequences. Beautifully written, sometimes witty, sometimes sad, but always interesting.