Peggy K. (Long Beach, CA)
The Four Horsemen
The Venetian Bargain is a beautifully written love story with great depth. The main character, Feyra, is so well written and attractive that readers will find her hard to forget even after the last page.
There is such quality to the details about Venice, Constantinople and the 14th Century with the Doges and of course the Sultans and their Harems.
I enjoyed the book immensely and I don't often read love stories these days. Readers ages 15 and up who want to immerse themselves in a great love story with history attached as a bonus will find this a great read.
It is also a great book for bookclubs. The 14th Century is tied to the plague in a way no other century has ever been. That topic alone is worth many hours of discussion. One could also discuss the cultural differences between Venice and Constantinople.
Trezeline B. (Columbia, MD)
The Venetian Bargain
Quite an interesting read. It is well written though it uses language that is different. Twists and turns that are unexpected hold the readers interest. A good read overall.
Mary Lou F. (Naples, FL)
Very good book written about a period in history that started a lot of modern medical treatments. Good reading from start to finish acquiring a lot of knowledge about that period in history.
Virginia M. (San Antonio, TX)
My venture into a new kind of historical novel
I will start this review with the conclusion - which is: I cannot say I loved it, but I did like the book.
I am a historical fiction fan but my preference is to read novels about American history. I occasionally venture into English history, but usually with a few misgivings because I just don't enjoy that history as much as my normal fare. I have read and enjoyed books that tell the background of some American immigrants who had roots in Italy; but I think was one of my first books purely about Italian history. As a result, it took me a little while to get into this book. I am not going to blame that on the author – I think it was just my lack of previous knowledge
I must say, however, I found the frequent inclusion of words that had no meaning to me and words that an online search did not provide a meaning somewhat frustrating. For instance on page 8, the word "portonera" is used. From its context, I presumed it meant something similar to a Mother Superior but I remain uncertain. Then on Page 9, the city of Venice is called a "polly-pole". From that context I could tell it was derogatory term but I could not find it in web search either. Then when the narrative switches to Constantinople, words like yashmak and ormisi were liberally thrown in. Now, I was able to search for these words and usually was able to find them. As I said, the author's tendency to impress us with words such as these proved her acquaintance with the language but did not improve my reading pleasure.
As I gained better footing in the novel, I enjoyed the character development and developed empathy for the main character, a young Muslim girl trained in medicine who flees her homeland to avoid an act of revenge by the Sultan. She ends up on a voyage to Venice on the same ship where a man suffering from bubonic fever is the main cargo – a dreadful scheme of the Sultan to smuggle this man into Venice and thereby gift Venice with the Plague.
Her adventures as a Muslim in Christian Venice during the 16th Century while the Plague is raging present an interesting setting. I enjoy learning and the book presented me with new information about treating the Plague and the Venetian culture in that era.
Until I almost finished the book, I could not understand why they chosen the image on the cover of the book – which gives the impression of wealth woman in a stylish dress – since our heroine dresses very modestly true to her Muslim culture. I wondered if the cover was aimed at indicating a possibly torrid romantic tone to the book. In the end, I understood what it portrayed and apologize for jumping to conclusions.
I am not going to search for another book by this author, but if you like this era and this culture I predict you will enjoy this book very much.
Barbara G. (Lisle, IL)
A Bargain Worth Making
This riveting tale of sixteenth century political intrigue amidst the time of plague will keep readers fascinated from beginning to end. Even if historical novels are not your usual read, there's enough going on here to interest almost everyone. The novel employs its author's exhaustive research in the areas of sixteenth century medical practice, middle eastern architecture, western European and Islamic religious beliefs, herbalism, and naval warfare. Its unlikely heroine, Feyra, a young female harem doctor, is a product of two worlds: her mother, Catholic Venetian royalty, her father a Turkish sea captain who swept her away to Constantinople. How Feyra ends up in Venice working side-by side with Annibale, a young Padua-trained doctor is the main story, but all is tied together through the clever metaphorical and organizational references to the Apocalyptic Four Horses. Intrigued? As the angel says, "Come and see."
Catherine H. (Nashua, NH)
The Venetian Bargain
An interesting book; although not my favorite, still very rich in details on Venice and the black plague. The author definitively did her homework.
Linda M. (Windsor, CA)
The Venetian Bargain
I thought the author Marina Fiorato told a great story against the backdrop of both 16th century Constantinople and Venice. The story told of different methods of warfare employed by the Turks against Venice and the main character's(Feyra) torn loyalties. The author set up Feyra's upbringing and background very well so as to make her actions believable. I really enjoyed the use of the actual architect Palladio and his interactions with Feyra to use some Turkish techniques to build the new cathedral. I thought the ending was a bit convenient and not terribly realistic, but all in all it was a fast moving and interesting read. I would recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction.