The Gondola Maker by Laura Morelli is a wonderful trip back in time to Renaissance Venice.
Luca Vianello is the heir to his father’s very successful gondola-making business. When a family tragedy occurs Luca’s temper flares at his father and the incident results in Luca not only being on his own for the first time in his life but also fleeing the only home he’s ever known.
Luca is lucky in that he finds a job doing errands for an artist. While there he discovers that the artist has an antique gondola that had actually been built by Luca’s own grandfather and he gains permission to restore it. The process of restoring this gondola is like a balm to Luca’s soul and gives him a new perspective on his life. Even though he was set to inherit his father’s business Luca was never allowed to touch a lot of the materials for building the gondolas because he was left-handed. Back in those days you were considered to be marked by the devil if you used your left hand for writing or anything else. So building this gondola all on his own showed him that he could indeed do it and do it well.
Luca is a great character and narrator of this story. He is young but smart and really only wants to discover what his true destiny in life is. When he sees a painting of a beautiful woman that the artist is working on he is entranced and feels quite sure she is supposed to be a part of that destiny. Yet this woman, Guiliana, is of a completely different class than he so it just can’t be but still Luca strives to meet her. His dream is of one day taking her on a ride in the gondola that he has rebuilt with all the passion and love he carries in his heart.
Renaissance Venice comes alive at the author’s hand and the vivid descriptions of the craftsmanship that goes into the building of gondolas is nothing short of fascinating. The Gondola Maker is a novel of love, loss, and fulfilling one’s destiny. I really enjoyed it and recommend it to all lovers of historical fiction!
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Draw Date May 22/14