Being a fan of historical fiction, this story with its interwoven threads that bring several elements into play, this story was a treat. Incorporating the multi-ethnic cities built on trade and shipping; both Constantinople and Venice are beautifully detailed and described, differing only in the viewpoints that inform the scenes.
Like many, I had thought the plague was a scourge from medieval times, not aware that throughout a 300+ year period there were localized outbreaks throughout Europe, and that there were several areas that had 2, 3 or even more occurrences. The year here is 1574, just twenty years after Constantinople was brought into the Ottoman Empire as the 3rd capital.
Fiorato manages to bring the cities into great light: giving readers a sense of time and place that is detailed with rich prose and evocative imagery. At times, the description does cause a drag on the forward motion of the plot, but be patient and endure: this information will bring an even richer understanding and appreciation for the skill and efforts the author has displayed. Constantinople and Venice, two rich cities with seafaring merchants at the center of their power and long standing enemies, are rivals for power: and plots are afoot.
The prologue and first few chapters are integral to the story: providing background, fueling the characters with life as the scenes are set to continue the story of the plague’s effect on Venice in its second pandemic, and on the lives of those who encounter and fight the scourge.
With multiple perspectives on the plague, and the curious mix of medicine, superstition, faith and fatalism the story is informed with several characters’ points of view: from the plague doctors, the doge, Fayra and even the newly graduated Annibale, the story weaves these threads together into a tapestry that is both beautifully surprising and curiously expected.
Narration is provided by Pamela Garelick, and her voice is beautifully modulated as she presents the story. Only minimal changes to tone and delivery delineate the characters, and her switches in accent are subtle and clear, never feeling ‘overwrought’. Taking on the lyrical feel for the Italian, and adding emotive elements that enhance the story, her narration was a delight.
This 400+ page, 12+ hour story did everything I hope for with historical fiction: it had me investigating more about the plague, 15th century Venice and Constantinople and wanting to read more, know more, learn more. What a beautiful stepping stone into this author’s work.
Stars: Overall: 4 Narration: 4 Story: 4
Title: The Venetian Bargain
Author: Marina Fiorato
Genre: Historical Romance, Literary Fiction, Literary Fiction /Historical Setting
Narrator: Pamela Garelick
Published by: Blackstone Audio
Source: AudioBook Jukebox
Audio Length: 12 Hours: 47 minutes
Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ AllRomance ♦ iTunes ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound
Venice, 1576. Five years after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Lepanto, a ship steals unnoticed into Venice bearing a deadly cargo. A man, more dead than alive, disembarks and staggers into Piazza San Marco. He brings a gift to Venice from Constantinople. Within days the city is infected with bubonic plague—and the Turkish Sultan has his revenge.
But the ship also holds a secret stowaway—Feyra, a young and beautiful harem doctor fleeing a future as the Sultan’s concubine. Only her wits and medical knowledge keep her alive as the plague ravages Venice.
In despair, the Doge commissions the architect Andrea Palladio to build the greatest church of his career—an offering to God so magnificent that Venice will be saved. But Palladio’s life is in danger too, and it will require all the skills of Annibale Cason, the city’s finest plague doctor, to keep him alive. What Annibale had not counted on was meeting Feyra, who is now under Palladio’s protection—an impossible woman whose medical skills and determination are matched only by his own.
From Marina Fiorato, author of the acclaimed historical novel The Glassblower of Murano, comes a triumphant return to historical Venice with Venetian Bargain.
A copy of this title was provided via AudioBook Jukebox for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.