Book reviews

Archive for the ‘Napoli – Donna Jo’ Category

Daughter of Venice by Donna Jo Napoli


I’m going to sound really, really ungrateful here, but I need to vent. Don’t you hate it when someone discovers you like to read and then insists on lending you a stack of books, and you can just tell by the covers that you are not into the same type of books. One of the books I’ve been lent in this instance is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, and believe me, I’ve hated everything I’ve read by her.

So I’ve looked at the pile of books I was loaned and chosen Daughter of Venice, a young adult novel by Donna Jo Napoli as the best of a bad bunch, and started reading in the hopes of being happily surprised.

But no.

First person, present tense.

I sighed and kept reading. I really like the person who lent me these books.

Anyway, Daughter of Venice. The story is set in 1592, and told by Donata Mocenigo, a 14-year old girl from a noble family in Venice. Donata, along with her sisters, is uneducated and sheltered, however Donata wants more, so she dresses as a boy and escapes the family home to see a bit of her home town.

I won’t continue with the plot, which actually sounds better put in a few bald words than it reads when you are reading the story, but will tell you instead what I did enjoy about this book.

For instance, did you know that in noble Venetian families of that time, only one boy married and had children, so as to keep the family wealth intact? Other boys in the family went into business, or were educated, or went into the church, according to their inclinations and how they could best serve the family. Same with the girls, one married, one stayed a spinster aunt to help the brother who married with his children, and the remaining girls became nuns.

I liked that Daughter of Venice wasn’t a romance, but instead provided a valuable life lesson – sometimes you don’t get what you want. I also liked that another life lesson is that if you persist, you will sometimes get other things you want, for example, in Donata’s case, she wanted and eventually was allowed to receive an education.

I won’t go out of my way to read another Young Adult book by this author, but would consider reading a novel aimed at adults.

Next time someone tries to unload a heap of books on me I’ll tell the truth and say I’ve got so many I haven’t read that my husband has said he will divorce me if I bring any more home, thank you anyway.




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