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Pleasure and plague,
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This review is from: The Venetian Contract (Kindle Edition)
A novel centred in Venice with Ottoman exoticism thrown in can hardly fail to entice readers. Marina Fiorato's tale of Feyra, half Venetian, half Turkish, who brings love and adventure, along with the plague, from Istanbul to Venice, is an interesting twist on the usual romantic novel. Feyra, unusually for a 16th-century woman, is a doctor. She and an Italian doctor - their relationship is at the heart of the novel - arrange for a plague hospital on one of the Venetian lagoon islands. The story takes place in the aftermath of the famous sea Battle of Lepanto - which the Venetians won against the Turks - and weaves together strands of Ottoman and Italian cultures. A secondary thread is the building of Palladio's Redentore church on Guidecca: Palladio and the Doge of Venice are important characters in the book.
Fiorata's attention to detail is exquisite. Her research into medical history, medicaments, and healing herbs as well as her knowledge of Venetian architectural and political history, exude verisimilitude. Her characters are fascinating and the setting of a plague hospital takes this novel above the realm of the merely romantic into something much more interesting.
Although Fiorata's writing style is very straightforward, with little subtlety and fairly simple narrative, her story and characters illuminate the words on the page and offer a glimpse of a little known area of Venetian history. That originality will certainly encourage me to try more of her books.