About the Book:
When a baby is discovered floating in a basket along the quiet canals of Venice, a guild of artisans takes him in and raises him as a son, skilled in each of their trades. Although the boy, Sebastien Trovato, has wrestled with questions of his origins, it isn't until a woman washes ashore on his lagoon island that answers begin to emerge. In hunting down his story, Sebastien must make a choice that could alter not just his own future, but also that of the beloved floating city.
Daniel Goodman is given a fresh start in life as the century turns. Hoping to redeem a past laden with regrets, he is sent on an assignment from California to Venice to procure and translate a rare book. There, he discovers a city of colliding hope and decay, much like his own life, and a mystery wrapped in the pages of that filigree-covered volume. With the help of Vittoria, a bookshop keeper, Daniel finds himself in a web of shadows, secrets, and discoveries carefully kept within the stones and canals of the ancient city . . . and in the mystery of the man whose story the book does not finish: Sebastien Trovato.
This is not a page turning novel. It is one a reader must be willing to take time to be deeply immersed in two fictional worlds. Dykes is a wonderful wordsmith but verbose. Concise she is not. She takes a long time to describe a scene, to build action. This is a book to read slowly.
It may also take concentration as the plot is complex. A story from 1807 is being translated by Daniel in 1904. The relevant nature of that old story is rather obscure for a long time. Well over a third of the way into the novel, Daniel says of it, he “couldn't figure out yet how it all connected.” (158) I felt the same as Daniel.
The first part of the book did not grab me as the relationship between the two time periods eluded me. It may take time for readers to figure out the correlation between the two and the theme connecting them. The old story is one about a foundling and is without an ending. Daniel's life has not yet unfolded to its intended end. Perhaps the character in the old story and translator Daniel are both searching for their true identity and meaning in life. The author's note at the end ultimately lends insight into the plot structure and meaning. Reading that first may help in putting the two stories into proper perspective.
With respect to the novel's structure, I felt there were two stories going on competing for my attention. I would get involved in one and the would have to shift to the other. Because of that, I found it hard to be fully engaged in either one. I think a better structure would have been to have the older story be not as long and not as demanding on the reader. That way it could have been a catalyst for thought, not a competition for attention.
My rating: 3/5 stars.
About the Author:
(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)
Post a Comment