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I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
**      = Enjoyable
*        = Good, with reservations

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****Daughter of Venice

by Donna Jo Napoli

Reviewed April 24, 2002.
Wendy Lamb Books, 2002.  274 pages.  Available at Sembach Library (JF NAP).

Imagine my delight when I got back to work to find this book waiting for me!  Set in Sixteenth Century Venice, it was so easy for me to visualize the setting.  I’m not sure that Venice has changed very much in 400 years.

I didn’t know that noble families in Venice usually only married off one son and one or two daughters, in order to keep their family wealth consolidated.  The other sons would often become merchants or go into politics.  One of the other daughters would help care for the children of the married brother, while the rest would usually end up in a convent.

Donata Mocenigo is a special case.  She only has one older sister, so she has a chance of being married.  However, she is a twin, so neither of them know which of the two would be chosen if there is to be a second bride.  Donata has an active mind, and chafes against their narrow lives shut up in their palazzo.  When chance makes a suit of boy’s clothes available to her, she seizes the opportunity to disguise herself and see something of her great city.

One thing leads to another, and Donata ends up spending every morning working as a copyist while her twin sister covers for her by doing her chores at home.  When this supposed diligence means that Donata is chosen to be the second bride, she must come up with a plan to set things right, without revealing what she has done.

I must admit that I wish that Donna Jo Napoli did not write in present tense.  I’ve got a pet peeve against it for novels, though it seems to be a current trend.  I recently got fed up and took five novels back to the library because they were all written in present tense!  However, I can’t pass up a Donna Jo Napoli novel.  Though I wasn’t crazy about her last one, Three Days, this one is back to the high standard of excellence I’ve come to expect from her work.  The Prince of the Pond, and Sirena, among others, are outstanding.  Besides, Donna Jo Napoli was a Math major!  She must be good!  :)

I thought the ending was maybe a little too easy, but all in all, this is a book I will highly recommend.  It’s an enjoyable and interesting story that also teaches you about the history of Venice.  I’ll recommend it to any teenage girl, and also to any adult looking for some fun, light reading.

Reviews of other books by Donna Jo Napoli:
The Great God Pan
The Prince of the Pond
Jimmy:  The Pickpocket of the Palace
Gracie:  The Pixie of the Puddle
Three Days

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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