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The Venetian Mask (1992)

by Rosalind Laker

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21025112,886 (3.47)34
Enduring friendships and long-held vendettas come alive against the splendor and decadence of eighteenth-century Venice. In 1775 Venice--known to outsiders as "the brothel of Europe"--the tradition of mask-wearing has allowed adultery and debauchery to flourish. But Marietta and Elena, two friends at the Ospedale della Pietà, a world-famous orphanage and music school for girls, know little of that milieu--until they come of age. Elena is forced to wed the head of the Celano clan, a jealous, brutal man, while Marietta marries Domenico Torrisi, whose family vendetta with the Celanos is centuries old. Tradition dictates that the friends should never speak again, but their bond is too strong to break. As the French Revolution unsettles all of Europe, Elena's husband frames Domenico and he becomes a political prisoner. Marietta and Elena plot to save him, and the women discover that Venetian masks have noble purposes, too--but will their efforts put their own lives at risk? Embodying the glitter and the treachery of the city it portrays, The Venetian Mask will keep you turning pages long into the night.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
This was a historical fiction romance set in 1770’s to 1790’s Venice, then an independent city state known for its noble families and masked carnivals. The book begins with Marietta, a soon-to-be-orphaned girl who decorates masks with her mother. Masks become an important motif/symbol/ driving force in this novel, as covering one’s identity was common in Venice, allowing people to do some of the most outrageous things. Marietta is taken in by the Pieta, an orphanage that trains their charges in music so they can perform all over the city. Elena becomes her closest friend. Marietta has a secret affair with a young Frenchman, Alix, while Elena only has eyes for Marco Celano.

Elena if forced to marry Marco’s evil brother, Filippo, and through strange twists of fate, Marietta marries Domenico Torrisi, sworn enemy of the Celanos. The family feud (like the Montagues and the Capulets) has been going on forever and no one knows how it started. Elena and Marietta still maintain their friendship, meeting at the home of Adrianna, who was once a Pieta girl, too.

The book started a little slow for me, but I did enjoy it once it got going. Marietta’s husband is wrongfully imprisoned by the Celanos, forfeiting all his palaces and goods. Marietta gets back on her feet, working in a mask shop and doing everything she can to get her husband free. Elena, knowing her evil husband is behind Domenico’s imprisonment, starts to search through all his belongings for proof. He then imprisons her in a secret room in the palace, putting an imposter in her place, letting her die slowly by starvation. Since faces are so often covered in Venice, he gets away with it for quite some time until Marietta makes a foray into the Celano palace to find out the truth.

The characters are pretty much either good or evil, but the story is interesting enough. There were times when things moved rather slowly, and other times when months would go by in a single paragraph, but the setting was well described.
( )
  BugsyBoog | Jun 7, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I love Rosalind Laker's books - wonderful historical fiction. While this is not my favorite of her novels, it's still well worth reading.; ( )
  suetara | Aug 8, 2011 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Despite many attempts I couldn't finish this book. The characters were all 2D and the plot relied heavily on coincidence and convenience. It was a very slow moving story and couldn't hold my interest as there were no surprises. ( )
  Irisheyz77 | Jan 2, 2010 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I had a really hard time getting through this book. It could not hold my interest. The plot was very slow moving. ( )
  maryevans77 | Oct 4, 2009 |
This book was a bit slow-moving, so I read a couple of other books between chapters of this one. Despite the slow pace, I did really enjoy this book all the way through. I wouldn't mind trying more books by this author. ( )
  ladybug74 | Mar 25, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
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Marietta raised the velvet-covered lid of the box.
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Enduring friendships and long-held vendettas come alive against the splendor and decadence of eighteenth-century Venice. In 1775 Venice--known to outsiders as "the brothel of Europe"--the tradition of mask-wearing has allowed adultery and debauchery to flourish. But Marietta and Elena, two friends at the Ospedale della Pietà, a world-famous orphanage and music school for girls, know little of that milieu--until they come of age. Elena is forced to wed the head of the Celano clan, a jealous, brutal man, while Marietta marries Domenico Torrisi, whose family vendetta with the Celanos is centuries old. Tradition dictates that the friends should never speak again, but their bond is too strong to break. As the French Revolution unsettles all of Europe, Elena's husband frames Domenico and he becomes a political prisoner. Marietta and Elena plot to save him, and the women discover that Venetian masks have noble purposes, too--but will their efforts put their own lives at risk? Embodying the glitter and the treachery of the city it portrays, The Venetian Mask will keep you turning pages long into the night.

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