Two starred -- instead of three -- only because I've not seen the end of the book. If it lives up to its promise, so far, its a sure three star title -- and our first candidate for the Anthony Adverse laurels. It has the same pace and vigor -- the same picaresque, romantic swagger -- the same zest for the story itself. There's a bit of the flavor of Dew in April -- tap that market. Even a bit of Peter Abelard. Fabricius is a Hollander --this book, published in three parts, has already had phenomenal success over there. And it has lost nothing in the translation (if one can judge by no consciousness of its being a translation). The period is the mid 18th century -- the setting, the Umbrian Cathedral town of Todi. The first third of the story is laid there, and deals with the childhood of the gifted Marietta, deserted by her actress mother, and brought up, first by the lustful innkeeper and his cowed wife, then by the nuns, finally by the bishop, a worldly man, who marries her off to a village admirer when trapped by his own passion for her. The child she bears is his -- and the rest of the story is the boy's. Rome -- Venice -- and again the provincial town of Todi form the shifting and magical atmosphere for a dramatic, meaty novel. The publishers promise a large advertising campaign and substantial backing. A good bet for the new season.