The Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato delves into the treachery and intrigue of 17th century Venice. Venice is my favorite place in the world and so anything that gives me a glimpse into life there I enjoy. During the 13th and 14th century, concerned about fire risks on Venice, the glassmakers were sent to the island of Murano to set up their workshops. It was here that the Venetian government chose to enforce strict requirements for glassmakers in fear of their secrets being sent abroad. In fact a few were enticed away and secretly taken to France. See Rick Steves' You Tube video Venice:City of Dreams below for a view inside the prisons for those who defied The Ten. The second video is Venice and its Lagoon - Murano and the Venetian islands.
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 Louis XIV of France to protect his secret daughter. In the present day, his descendant Leonora Manin, leaves London for a new life as a glassblower in Venice - only to find her fate inextricably linked with her ancestor's dangerous secrets.
I liked the story of Corradino and especially the little tidbits about Venice that peppered the novel. I found that by having a map of Venice close by, I could understand where the characters were travelling to and from. It might have been helpful for readers to have one in the book. I'm not sure that having a present day story interspersed enhanced the novel. Some of Leonora/Nora's parts I didn't find believable, although her research did explain to the reader much of Corradino's life and his decisions. The Glassblower of Murano would make a good book club read and has reading group questions.