DAUGHTER OF VENICE by Donna Jo Napoli

DAUGHTER OF VENICE

Age Range: 10 - 15

KIRKUS REVIEW

Compelling historical fiction explores the Byzantine rules governing the social order of 16th-century Venice. Fourteen-year-old Donata, a younger daughter of one of Venice’s wealthiest noble families, has been raised to expect little; according to the complex conventions of her society, only the oldest daughter of the family can expect to marry and leave the household. And to leave the household is what Donata desperately wants. Intelligent and curious, she chafes at the rules that dictate that she remain uneducated and never have the freedom to explore her city. In the tradition of spunky heroines before her, she devises a scheme that will allow her to sneak out of the house disguised as a poor boy and wander Venice, where she meets, befriends, and inevitably falls in love with Noè, a Jewish copyist. At the same time, she successfully petitions her father to sit in on her brothers’ tutoring sessions and thus begins a formal education. Napoli resists the easy anachronism; spunky though Donata is, she remains committed to her family and her society, seeking a solution to her unhappiness that, although somewhat unconventional, nevertheless remains essentially true to her culture and its restrictions. The first-person, present-tense narration allows the reader to encounter Venice along with Donata, from the stately palazzos to the streets populated by beggars and to the Ghetto beyond. Fascinating tidbits of information about Venice’s society, politics, history, and economy find their way painlessly into the narrative. While readers will be rightly skeptical at Donata’s speedy mastery of not only written Venetian but Latin as well, they will nevertheless find themselves absorbed in her story and the snapshot of her city that it provides. (Fiction. 10-15)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-385-32780-3
Page count: 228pp
Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2001




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