1527. While the Papal city of Rome burns - brutally sacked by an invading army including Protestant heretics - two of her most interesting and wily citizens slip away, their stomachs churning on the jewels they have swallowed as the enemy breaks down their doors. Though almost as damaged as their bellowed city, Fiammetta Bianchini and Bucino Teodoldi - a fabulous courtesan and her dwarf companion - are already planning their future. They head for the shimmering beauty of Venice, a honey pot of wealth and trade where they ...
1527. While the Papal city of Rome burns - brutally sacked by an invading army including Protestant heretics - two of her most interesting and wily citizens slip away, their stomachs churning on the jewels they have swallowed as the enemy breaks down their doors. Though almost as damaged as their bellowed city, Fiammetta Bianchini and Bucino Teodoldi - a fabulous courtesan and her dwarf companion - are already planning their future. They head for the shimmering beauty of Venice, a honey pot of wealth and trade where they start to rebuild their business. As a partnership they are invincible: Bucino, clever with a sharp eye and a wicked tongue and Fiammetta, beautiful and shrewd, trained from birth to charm, entertain and satisfy men who have the money to support her. Venice, however, is a city which holds its own temptations. From the admiring Turk in search of human novelties for his Sultan's court, to the searing passion of a young lover who wants more than his allotted nights. But the greatest challenge comes from a young blind woman, a purveyor of health and beauty, who insinuates her way into their lives and hearts with devastating consequences for them all.
Very good. A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly. Pages are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine is undamaged.
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From the first chapter of this book, the story starts its sprint; we are quickly introduced to Fiammette, the strong, proud, and very wealthy courtesan of a corrupt Roman cardinal and her dwarf companion, Bucino. They have to fend for their lives in the sacking of Rome and eventually end up in Venice and must completely rebuild their lives from scratch. A blind healer named La Draga also comes into the story and changes the characters' situations dramatically several times. Throughout the story, she changes from guest, to friend, to enemy, to ally, and many other roles. Her character is very intriguing, mysterious and I was always wondering what she would do next. The story is told from the 1st person perspective of Bucino the dwarf, which makes for a very unique approach to telling the story. Dunant does a wonderful job of showing how much differently Bucino was treated because of his stature, yet at the same time, shows how his mind is sharp as a tack. He also presents a very unique sense of humor and wit to the story. Bucino uses his stature for several comedic situations that just wouldn't be funny if a full-sized person was in them. I found this story's plot very interesting. To generalize, it was a rags-to-riches story as the characters had to rebuild their fortune and overcome obstacles along the way. The story is very compelling, and I felt very connected to the characters; happy when they had achieved success, sad when it was stolen from them. My only concern with the book was the ending. I didn't feel that Dunant gave the characters sufficient motivation to do the things they did nor the time to finish the story properly. Several times I was left wondering, "Wait, why did he just do that?" Not to ruin the ending, but when I had about 20 pages left, it seemed like another 200 pages should have followed. The ending was somewhat confusing and abrupt. The writing is very detailed, but not to the point that it slows the book down; in fact, I found this book to be a very quick read. Dunant writes in a way so that a general impression and mood of scenes is given, but many details are left to the reader to fill in for himself. Overall, I highly recommend this book for its compelling story, realistic characters, and exciting setting.
Jun 7, 2007
History Comes Alive
Here is Rome being ravaged by the Protestents while the Turks begin their a reluctant retreat from the shores of the Adriatic, and not so long ago, either. A wealthy courtesan and her "business manager" flee to what they think is the safety of Venice (but not without losing their wealth and reputation), where they must re-establish themselves. The story is fascinating and well-told, with lots of description, but what makes it memorable is that it is told from the viewpoint of the shrewd little dwarf who tends to the courtesan, and saves her more than once. Here again is history come alive.
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