Donata is tired of being talked down to by her big brothers. In 1592 Venice, girls, even those of the upper class, aren’t allowed to study anything other than music or needlework, can’t go outside unescorted, and must always be quiet unless spoken to. The only way outgoing Donata learns anything is by quizzing her brothers about it. But she knows even they are carefully selecting what they can and can’t tell her. So she decides to take matters into her own hands. With the help of her identical twin, Laura, Donata scores some beggar boy clothes, ties up her hair and heads out into Venice on her own, dressed as boy. (I know, that whole “girl dressing as a boy” plot has been done to death, but this in this story it works well) There, she gets beat up by another alley-rat kid, and makes friends with Noe, a young scholar from the Jewish ghetto. But once Donata discovers the real Venice, she knows she can never go back to being a quiet, dutiful daughter. How can she convince her parents to let her get an education like her brothers, without telling them about her double life? The best part of this book is the intricate historical detail. Napoli carefully describes the architecture of Venice, it’s complicated system of canals, and most importantly, the many, many rules that governed it’s Renaissance women. When I closed the cover, I couldn’t believe that I was still sitting in my apartment in Queens instead of a swaying gondola. (And please dismiss the childish cover on this book–it’s really much older than it looks!)
2 thoughts on “Daughter of Venice by Donna Jo Napoli”
I didn’t really know where to post this, but have you read The Lady in the Tower by Marie Louise-Jenson? great historical girly fiction book. Romantic and a but cheesy at times, but a great read. I couldn’t put it down!
No, But thanks for the rec, Faith. I’ll check it out!