Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Daughters of the Doge - Edward Charles

Daughters of the Doge is one of my charity shop purchases. There are days when you go into a charity shop and you end up leaving with 10 books, simply because they seem to have interesting book after interesting book. It's a historical novel set in the mid 1550's, mainly in Venice. In fact, it was the sleek cover with its dusky image of a gondola which caught my eye.

Richard Stocker is a young English protestant. Unfortunately for him though, Catholic Queen Mary sits on the English throne and tensions are high between the religions. Richard's position is more precarious than most given the fact that he had been a companion to Lady Jane Gray, who had been executed by Queen Mary. All this is recounted in the first Richard Stocker novel, In the Shadow of Lady Jane, but rest assured, you do not have to have read the first novel to understand the events in this second novel.

Richard is unsure of his path in life, but fate offers him a chance to travel to Italy, more specifically Venice. He has a strong interest in medicine and being accepted to study at Padua University is a possibility. But while in Venice, he discovers a talent for art and drawing in the studio of the great artist Tintoretto. He also meets three remarkable, and beautiful women who all play their part in the development of his life. There is the stunning and calculating courtesan Veronica Franco who teaches him about the subtle undercurrents of Venetian life, the demure and intelligent Yasmeen, a Muslim who captures his heart and finally, captive nun Faustina. Together, these women represent the diversity of Venice and are the Daughters of the Doge.

It's a weird coincidence that I've just finished Sarah Dunant's amazing novel Sacred Hearts, also set in the world of Renaissance convents. Unfortunately though, this novel fails to reach the same heights as Dunant's book. It is somewhat repetitive and predictable with rather flat characters. The author does take the rather 21st century concept of not knowing your path in life and applies it to a character in the 16th century, but ultimately Charles fails to bring the main character to life.

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