The synchronicity in book reading is amazing; co-incidence and books that you happen to pick up and which just hit the moment, or smash glaringly into the moment in the wrong way. Perhaps it happens all the time, perhaps it is ‘meant to be’ – perhaps I just notice when I’m extra sensitive.
The Glassblower of Murano is a story told across two time lines; it follows the story of a Venetian glass blower from the time when Venice was a principality and the glass blowers were virtual prisoners of the city, the prized possession of a city state run by “The Ten” who rule and police the city. Corradino is a talented glass blower who risks the wrath of the city to follow a dream and seek happiness. The story is told in tandem with that of his descendant, Leonora, who follows her heart to find work in Venice following the end of her marriage and finds out not only more than she expected about her famous ancestor, but also a whole new life.
It isn’t a plot with masses of surprises, in fact, a little like The Pull of the Moon, some of it is told from the very beginning, but the writing is elegant and enjoyable and the characters believable and easy to like. None of them are too perfect or too horrid, the nature of ‘The Ten’ fits well enough into the understanding of some governments now to make them a threatening shade and introduce a dimension of tension to the plot and the love affair that begins somehow fits comfortably into the main plot as to not take it over, while still managing to be difficult to gauge how it will end. It is a book with strength in how it is balanced and real colour and atmosphere in the prose and I found it a pleasure to read.
One of the elements I enjoyed was that, although the plot starts with a marriage break up and infertility as a theme, the main character, Leonora, has moved on. She’s still healing, but it isn’t one of the endless ‘hurt, moves to pastures new, meets a man, happy ending’ types of books. Sure, that is sort of what happens, but something in the way the character is drawn means that you aren’t forced to go through it with her – and that appeals to me, because I’ve got all of that type of stuff I can take! The chick lit element of the book occupies perhaps a quarter of it, the rest, historical, literary fiction, mystery, is all there and adds masses of meat to the bones of an already enticing story. I learned something new reading it too, about a place and a time and a people – and that ticks lots of boxes for me.
For the record, this isn’t a book for the most sensitive of my babyloss mother blog friends either. Infertility, child loss, birth and babies all feature. (Yes, I picked another book with all those in it!) But I’d give The Glassblower of Murano a resounding 9/10 – I’m sure I will read it again.
After that, I moved on to another that was recommended to me; I’ve put it on indefinite hold for now though, because it starts with someone in very raw grief over a miscarriage and… well, I’m not ready. I wanted to like it very much, but I was a bit unnerved by a character turning, in a blink of an eye, from likeable to hideous and had to stop. I suspect that says more about me than the book, but the speed of the change felt a little unreal. Still, the book gets good reviews and I’ll give it another go in a few months and report back 🙂 So that made three books with babies in it out of 3 in the last week!
And then I moved on to Learning By Heart which I picked up at the library and needs reading quickly! I think I’ll like this even if it does start with marriage break up, a little boy and a whole lot of loss. It also has a plot run on two time lines, is set in Italy and within the first 3 chapters, mentions the glass blowers of Murano.
Honestly, if you tried to do it on purpose, you couldn’t!