The Glassblower of Murano – Marina Fiorato

Title: The Glassblower of Murano
Author: Marina Fiorato
ISBN: 9780312386986
Pages: 368
Release Date: May 26, 2009
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Historical Fiction
Review: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

From the publisher’s website:

Venice, 1681. Glassblowing is the lifeblood of the Republic, and Venetian mirrors are more precious than gold. Jealously guarded by the murderous Council of Ten, the glassblowers of Murano are virtually imprisoned on their island in the lagoon. But the greatest of the artists, Corradino Manin, sells his methods and his soul to the Sun King, Louis XIV of France, to protect his secret daughter. In the present day his descendant, Leonora Manin, leaves an unhappy life in London to begin a new one as a glassblower in Venice. As she finds new life and love in her adoptive city, her fate becomes inextricably linked with that of her ancestor and the treacherous secrets of his life begin to come to light.

The Glassblower of Murano is one of those books I really wish I could give a higher rating to. The concept was intriguing – the first female glassblower in Venetian history, who has an ancestor who was one of Venice’s most famous glassblowers. There is a mystery surrounding this ancestor; specifically, whether he may have been a traitor to his people. I thought the conception of the plot was great and I was in for a richly textured and detailed historical fiction read. However, the execution was flawed at best.

I enjoyed getting lost in the city of Venice, past and present, though I wished more details about glassmaking had been included in The Glassblower of Murano. Leonara herself is an interesting character. After suffering heartbreak in her native London, she decides to try her hand at glassmaking in Venice. After all, she is the descendent of the great Corradino Marin; the glassblowing gene is in her blood. I enjoyed reading about her exploration of her family history, though much of it was on the surface.

And therein lies the problem with The Glassblower of Murano – everything is on the surface. It is a light and fluffy novel, which is completely fine, except it is difficult to accomplish that in the historical fiction genre and still write a solid book. The only really developed characters in the book are Corradino and Leonara. There are other extremely interesting people in the book who are completely flat – it would have been nice if Fiorato had developed the characters of Alessandro and Vittoria. There could have been a very interesting storyline there. Unfortunately, Vittoria ends up being a completely peripheral character because her personality isn’t really explored. And it’s difficult to understand why Leonara falls for Alessandro because he isn’t given a personality in the novel.

The glassblowing campaign that Leonara finds herself in the middle of could also have been a really great sub-plot. Unfortunately, again, the execution is just not there. All I could see in this book was potential – the execution was poor. As for the history, I can’t say I learned much that was new with this book. Everything just seemed to be on the surface.

If you are looking for a chick lit-type historical fiction read, then definitely give The Glassblower of Murano a try; its on-the-surface quality will allow for a relaxing read. After all, some of the reviews I’ve read of this book are much more positive than mine. However, if you are looking for a rigorous historical fiction read on Venetian glassblowing with meticulous research and fully developed characters, I would skip this one.

Comments

  1. I wonder why you feel bad that you didn’t like the book. If the book tries to pass itself off as a good quality historical fiction novel, it should be that, not a poorly executed fluff book. This is not the first such review I’ve encountered of this book and though I have no interest in reading it (fluff is not exactly my style), your expectations point at marketing schemes. Even the cover and the fonts try to hint at a romantic, literary-style novel that delves deep into historical fiction but as you have pointed out, the content doesn’t match. An intriguing premise doesn’t make the book.

  2. I wonder why you feel bad that you didn’t like the book. If the book tries to pass itself off as a good quality historical fiction novel, it should be that, not a poorly executed fluff book. This is not the first such review I’ve encountered of this book and though I have no interest in reading it (fluff is not exactly my style), your expectations point at marketing schemes. Even the cover and the fonts try to hint at a romantic, literary-style novel that delves deep into historical fiction but as you have pointed out, the content doesn’t match. An intriguing premise doesn’t make the book.

  3. That’s a shame. Your review of this reminds me of my review of Palace Circle. I wish every historical novel wasn’t depicted as something deep and meaningful only to disappoint us. At least books like this make the true gems stand out.

  4. That’s a shame. Your review of this reminds me of my review of Palace Circle. I wish every historical novel wasn’t depicted as something deep and meaningful only to disappoint us. At least books like this make the true gems stand out.

  5. I’m just past the middle of this novel myself. I can’t remember where or who, but all of the reviews of this novel have been not so great. At this point, I agree with you about it being okay as a chick lit book. I like her discussion on how glass is made, but a lot of her word choices bother me. I feel like she’s writing with dictionary by her side. I’m also not sure how I feel about the main character’s thoughts being structured the way they are. What did you think about them?

  6. I’m just past the middle of this novel myself. I can’t remember where or who, but all of the reviews of this novel have been not so great. At this point, I agree with you about it being okay as a chick lit book. I like her discussion on how glass is made, but a lot of her word choices bother me. I feel like she’s writing with dictionary by her side. I’m also not sure how I feel about the main character’s thoughts being structured the way they are. What did you think about them?

  7. I agree with you. A good historical fiction cannot be a light and fluffy novel at the same time. At least not in my perception. I love historical books but the ones I grew up on so to say are Mrgaret George, Rutherfurd and so on. Yes, they are real chunksters but they capture the essence of history.

  8. I agree with you. A good historical fiction cannot be a light and fluffy novel at the same time. At least not in my perception. I love historical books but the ones I grew up on so to say are Mrgaret George, Rutherfurd and so on. Yes, they are real chunksters but they capture the essence of history.

  9. sounds like one for the hammock or the beach. 🙂

  10. sounds like one for the hammock or the beach. 🙂

  11. I think I’ll take your word for it and skip this one. Finally – a book you’re not adding to my wishlist!

  12. I think I’ll take your word for it and skip this one. Finally – a book you’re not adding to my wishlist!

  13. The premise definitely sounds interesting — and I love the cover art! But the book being a superficial read would really irk me.

  14. The premise definitely sounds interesting — and I love the cover art! But the book being a superficial read would really irk me.

  15. I agree, the premise does sounds interesting. I love the cover, very pretty! Hopefully the next book will be better!

  16. I agree, the premise does sounds interesting. I love the cover, very pretty! Hopefully the next book will be better!

  17. When I first heard about this book, I thought it sounded fabulous, but after reading all the reviews, I think I’ll skip it.

  18. When I first heard about this book, I thought it sounded fabulous, but after reading all the reviews, I think I’ll skip it.

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