Review: ‘The Gondola Maker’ by Laura Morelli

31st March 2013


Set I Venice in the late 16th century, this historical novel tells the story of Luca Vianello, accidental and reluctant heir to the best gondola maker in the city. His life is mapped out in detail; who he’ll marry, where he’ll live, what he’ll spend his days doing are all decided for him by his distant, aggressive father.

When Luca’s mother dies from the complications of childbirth everything changes. Luca is finally free to make his own destiny.

I’m undecided about whether I liked this novel or not. I liked the premise, storyline, and the character of Luca. His development from impetuous youth to skilled craftsman has the makings of a classic Bildungsroman. He’s likable, he makes mistakes and acts impetuously. Told in the first person, and skipping between past incidents and present events the reader is aware of there impact on the protagonist. I like that; he’s flawed and not that self-aware, and the reader knows that.

I couldn’t put the book down, it’s a really engrossing page turner.

However, at times it felt like I was reading an essay on gondola manufacture and the gondalier class in renaissance Venice. Occasionally it overwhelms the story. In addition, Luca’s too nice and minor caracters that are important to the plot are only sketched in. The plot doesn’t have enough depth, it’s obvious.

An interesting historical novel, but I don’t think it’ll make it on to my ‘must read again’ list.

Trying to write a review on a busy train is not fun.

Bye, I’m almost in London



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