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on 9 March 2016
More historical facts about the glass blowers of Murano in Venice. Set in difficult times and brought out the intrigues and difficulties of those times well. Loved this book and will read more of this author.
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on 28 October 2012
Leonora Manin, English educated with English mother and Venetian father, gets divorced and fancies going to Venice to be a glassblower. She knows she is descended from Corradino Manin, the most famous of Venetian glassblowers, and having managed to get a job in a glass-blowing factory, researches her ancestor. Then Alessandro the policeman turns up, so her social life is sorted. In fact, a lot of things fall into place very conveniently for Leonora. Eventually she becomes pregnant and a happy ever after ending looms.

Interweaved with this story is the late 17th century story of Corradino himself. As a boy, he was spared when the rest of his family was assassinated by the Venetian Powers-that-be, and under the wing of Giacomo del Pieri, becomes a top glass-blower. But the French want him to show them how it's done, as the secrets of glassblowing were restricted to Venice in those days, and so they kidnap him (his disappearance being disguised by a faked death), and take him to Paris, where he makes the mirrors for the Palace of Versailles.
He is recaptured by the Venetians, and is assassinated, but the Ten (the aforesaid powers that be) spare his daughter, Leonora, who later marries a noble family of whom our Leonora is a descendant.

Leonora and Alessandro, with the help of academics and librarians, find out much of the truth about Corradino, and all ends satisfactorily.

The book is well researched, in particular the historical period and the science of making glass and mirrors. However, the author lacks the ability to insert her learning into the narrative in a subtle way. We keep coming across great wodges of unadulterated research. Take, eg, chapter 5, the Camelopard.
Characterisation is patchy. Some of the historical characters such as Corradino, are ok, but the present-day characters less so. Alessandro is just a cardboard cutout. Leonora doesn't give much away about herself.
The story is rather trite, and in parts difficult to believe. The notion that Adelino's scheme to promote his glass factory showcasing Leonora should be ruined just because Corradino is exposed as having been a traitor to Venice over 300 years ago seems improbable, as does Corradino's redemption when it is learnt that he went back to Venice in order to save his daughter.
The whole deal involving Corradino's departure from and return to Venice seems hopelessly contrived anyway. Having said that, it's possible that the development of glass-making in France in the late 17th century might well have resulted from industrial espionage.

The writing is variable. There are some quite pleasing and atmospheric passages, but at times the prose is childlike, reminiscent of the style of Ladybird books. There are some curious mistakes - reference to Leonora as an ancestor rather than a descendant, for example, and Corradino wondering whether his father liked the Divine Comedy because it was funny - the word comedy didn't mean funny in those days.

The bit where she talks about the baby - p243 - was pukeworthy.
She spells fazed "phased".
Where she refers to the present-day French glass factory as Dulux - doesn't she mean Duralex?
She uses the word "toothsome" instead of "toothed".
What exactly is a chestspoon?
I don't just blame the author - it takes some seriously sloppy editing to allow such a lot of mistakes to make it through to the print stage.
Not my kind of thing at all. I've had enough chicklit for one month (this was a Reading Group selection) and I'm now going to sit down and read a proper book.
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VINE VOICEon 22 April 2011
Many books I've read recently seem to have been set in a dual timeframe with a historical timeframe being brought to life by a parallel modern day tale; The Glassblower of Murano is one such book.

The novel opens in 17th Centure Venice with Corradino Manin returning to Venice with the knowledge that he is about to die, he is shortly stabbed in the back by one of his own blades. The story of Corradino is then told to us following his life from when he was a small child and then tracing the actions which have led to the point of his death. The modern day story follows Leonora Manin, a descendent of Corradino who has moved to Venice following the breakdown of her marriage.

The story line of this book was very good and I did enjoy it, however, I felt that for much of the time Marino Florato was trying too hard. I think that if she relaxed a bit more and let the writing flow more naturally the book would be a more enjoyable read, instead I felt that she was trying to make this into a literary novel by trying to emulate the written language of the 17th Century. Due to the writing style that I struggled to read this book, it took me over two weeks (which for me is a ridiculously long time) and I did get to the stage where I was getting so frustrated that I almost abandoned it.

I never formed a bond with either of the main characters which is also unusual for me, I enjoy reading as I love to get lost in someone else's world and this never happened with this book, I found that I didn't really care what happened to either of them.

Another frustrating thing about the book is how the timelines shifted in a way that implied the author had forgotten what point they were at; a pregnancy is just announced and then the months in between are passed over in a sentence; Corradino is to have his daughter join him in a month and then suddenly this changes to 12 months but with no explanation. Simple inconsistencies like this I found to be quite irritating and I ended up having to look at the earlier sections of the book questioning what I had previously read (not easy when reading this on a Kindle).

One the plus side, I thought the last quarter of the book picked up a lot and I enjoyed this far more than the earlier sections, it came full circle and had closure on all of the separate threads, although this did also mean that the ending was quite predictable I (admittedly we already knew what happened to Corradino).

This isn't going to go down as one of the best books that I've read this year but it wasn't that bad that I wouldn't consider another of Floprato's books as I'm hoping that with experience she'll relax more and future works will be more enjoyable.
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on 16 May 2016
Again Marina produces a double threaded story of Venice, past and present, united by an ancestor and present person, of glassblowing on Murano, where glass is still being blown, even today.
Marina unites the two threads of her story with ease, giving us much information of late Renaissance Venetian history, including the corruption of The Ten who made up the governing body of Venice.a
A completely fascinating story, right to the end.
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on 31 January 2016
I learnt a great deal about the art of glassblowing, very interesting. I also found that reading about Murano and Venice brought back many memories of when my husband and I spent four days there ten years ago.
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on 4 January 2011
I bought this book for my Kindle while it was £1 for the 12 days of Christmas. The basic plotline had a lot of potential, and I was drawn into the story. However, I found that the author used too many long words which detracted from the flow of the story. I actually used the dictionary function on the Kindle a number of times, and in several instances thought the definition of the word didn't actually make sense in the sentence. I enjoyed the book but I think a better author could have turned this from good to brilliant. I wasn't drawn in as emotionally as I can sometimes be into a book which I was a little disappointed by. In summary OK for £1, but I'm glad I didn't pay full price.
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on 8 December 2013
Having been to Venice and Murano for the first time this year,I was interested to read a novel on the area. I felt immersed in the characters and feel of Venice from the first pages and loved the rich sense of history. I have read two others of Marina Fiorato's book and loved them just as much. I highly recommend!
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This is a very enjoyable thriller set in Venice. Two linked stories run parallel - one present day, one in the 17th century. It is well plotted and one cares what happens to the characters. It is a thoroughly satisfactory read.
The only reason I have not given it 5 stars is because The Botticelli Secret, Ms Fiorato's next book is so much better and I felt the need to signal this.
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on 3 October 2012
I have read a number of books on my Kindle but this is one title that I will never forget, set as it is in La Serenissima. It's well over a year since I read this book but the powerful and sometime tense storyline makes it stand out compared to the many yet very enjoyable books I have since read. It also lead me on to read more of the novels by Marina Fiorato set in Renaissance Italy and to learn something of history of the all powerful Medici family.
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on 10 October 2015
It's a light read, entertaining and not taxing to read, great for reading on a plane and the journey passed quickly. I found the historical parts of the novel more interesting than the modern day sections, as the modern characters were not as well rounded.
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