|Oarlock - handcarved
This is a story about a gondola maker who wonders at his place in the world – where training was strictly by apprenticeship, and often inherited by familial lineage. This is an age where women did the cooking, shopping and cleaning, or prostituting, rather than finding their own place in the world. Neither the men nor the women truly had many choices. Roles were strictly assigned and adhered to in this society. How far we have come!
Our hero, 22-year-old stud muffin Luca Vianello, is supposed to inherit his family business in Venice in 1581. (Sorry, this middle-aged retiree pictures stud muffin!) The setting is amazing, with many rich, descriptive passages and a wonderful smattering of Italian vocabulary to spice up the narrative. It is obvious that Morelli has lived in many places around the world. It is a rich, sensual cornucopia of sights, sounds, smells and flavours in this novel. For a first-time novelist, Laura captured it all!
"It begins to rain. Cold, grape-sized pellets fall from the sky, making a haphazard cacophony of concentric rings in the canals."
Morelli's education, travels, and teachings, as well as her non-fiction works happily prepared her to write a novel. I was very much entertained on a wet, humid, thundery day, with each page turn. She builds her story, weaving a tapestry of a different time and place. Her historical knowledge and research enlightened me. There were stiff fines for sumptuary laws: too much ostentation on a gondola was a bad thing.
During the 1500’s, the gondola became increasing decorated with fancy ironwork, bright carpets and rich colours. An increasing number boasted a felze; a small cabin complete with louvered windows, allowing privacy for passengers, and protection from the elements. Sumptuary laws passed in 1562, however, decreed all gondolas to be black to prevent ostentatious displays of wealth.
Bless her heart, the author permitted me to post her photos. They really illustrate the setting of the book well. The intricate, hand-carved oarlock, a gondola in a boat yard, and the canal. Yes, a darn good read! I hope she writes us some more!
About the Author:
|Also by Laura Morelli
Laura has taught college-level art history at Trinity College in Rome, as well as at Northeastern University, Merrimack College, St. Joseph College, and the College of Coastal Georgia. Laura has lived in five countries, including four years in Italy and four years in France.
Laura Morelli is the author of the guidebook series that includes Made in Italy, Made in France, and Made in the Southwest, all published by Rizzoli / Universe.My artistic blog buddies might find this TED talk interesting!
Morelli's art history lesson, “What’s the difference between art and craft?” was produced and distributed by TED-Ed.
Was da Vinci an artistic genius? Sure, but he was also born in the right place at the right time -- pre-Renaissance, Western artists got little individual credit for their work. And in many non-Western cultures, traditional forms have always been prized over innovation. So, where do we get our notions of art vs. craft? Laura Morelli traces the history of how we assign value to the visual arts.