Ackroyd's writing tends to be a matter of love or hate judging by these reviews. What some might call descriptive, evocative eloquence others will find flowery, long-winded and unclear. Unfortunately, I found myself leaning more towards the latter opinion.
The sheer concentration of adjectives and high-flown metaphors makes you almost suspicious that Venice's story isn't exciting enough on its own without having to be padded out with purple prose. There is no doubt Ackroyd knows his stuff, but the facts and the story which should speak for themselves are obscured by metaphors to satin silk and mirrors and glass and whatnot that are as cliched as they are distracting.
Perhaps I'm a bit too much of a philistine in failing to understand the power of Ackroyd's detailed verbal portraits, but whether you love his style or hate it, I feel quite safe in saying that this book can be quite difficult to get through at times.