Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Secret of the Glass-Donna Russo

The Secret of the Glass
Donna Russo
Kensington, Mar 2010, $15.00
ISBN 9780758226921

In Venice the renowned Murano glassmakers feel the pressure of laws that insist they must remain inside the city and limit females. Zeno Fiolario is one of the best artisans, but his equally talented oldest daughter Sophia must hide her skill serendipitously taught to her by her father or both will be severely punished. When Zeno becomes ill, Sophia as the oldest of his daughters accepts marriage to middle-aged Pasquale da Fuligna, who covets owning the Fiolarios’ glass factory.

Pasquale brings his fiancée to the Doge's palace, where she meets Galileo. The scientist, in trouble with the Church, commissions her in secret to construct a secret lens for him. Encouraged by her beloved impoverished courier, she creates a glass device to enable long distance sight. However, her association with Galileo places her and her family and beloved in trouble with the papacy.

This is a superb historical fiction tale that brings to life the age of Galileo in Venice through the eyes of an illegal Murano glassmaker. Ironically, like Galileo who is in heretic trouble with the Church; Sophia violates the gender restriction law. She learns skill is irrelevant. Readers will relish this strong seventeenth century story as The Secret of the Glass is due to the maker.

Harriet Klausner

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