This is just my second time around doing a review for a book tour and I was quite pleased when I made the request and was accepted. There seem to be so many restrictions for publishers on the geographical side that getting this book was good for me.
You couldn't ask for a better setting - Renaissance Venice and what was really unusual was that it was a working class background and setting. We read so much about the aristocracy in Italy that it was a real change for me to read about a more down to earth background.
Set in 16th century Venice the story deals with the eldest son of a boat yard. A famous boatyard with the emphasis on good workmanship, loyalty to its customers and a history going back generations. Luca's life is already decided - he will take over the boat yard, he will marry whoever has been chosen for him (this has already been decided), and will continue like his father and father before him.
At this point you know you are going to some interesting place because if Luca was going on the straight and narrow it will not be an interesting story. Luca has personality and vision and that vision does not stop at building a gondola. A family tragedy is the catalyst for Luca's departure from home and he lands on his feet, finding a minor job for a famous artist and running errands for him. It is a far cry from his specialized job of building gondolas but Luca is strangely happy with an alternative lifestyle. The fact that there is an ancient gondola lying in the artist's backyard perishing with neglect perks Luca's interest and he obtains permission from the owner to restore it to its former beauty. This satisfies Luca's artistic yearnings as he finds it intolerable that such a fine craft is so neglected.
Full of minute details of working class Venice and of the craft of the gondoliers themselves the coming of age of Luca who also finds love in the most unlikely place is so fine, that you are crossing your fingers and hoping that everything is going to turn up roses for him.
For fans of historical fiction, Renaissance Italy and also for those who would like a coming of age story this is it. It combines the best of all three together.