Friday, March 14, 2008

24. The Venetian Mask


By Rosalind Laker
Rated 5 Stars

Laker has the historical romance down cold. In her sixteenth, she spins a successfully readable tale set in late-eighteenth-century Venice. The novel's central characters are three women who meet and become lifelong friends in the Ospedale della Pieta, Venice's renowned musical conservatory for orphaned girls. Against all odds, the three women suffer to preserve the lasting ties between them. Elena, betrothed to nobleman Marco Celano, is forced to marry Marco's jealous brother, Filippo, when, days before the wedding, Marco is stricken with fever and dies; Marietta later marries Domenico Torrisi, the sworn enemy of Filippo Celano, and she and Elena are forbidden to see one another; Adrianna, the oldest, is the critical link and, for years, arranges clandestine meetings between the friends. Doses of tyranny, adventure, merriment, and sentimentalism are tastefully sprinkled throughout. An enjoyable sojourn to another time and place.
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