A Thing Done
This novel set in the 13th century shines a bright light on rival families in medieval Florence, Italy. It is January 1216, and Corrado, an amiable jester, is entertaining at a feast when, much to his dismay, he becomes the catalyst in an event that brings to a boil the already hot tensions between a collection of powerful knights and their attendant factions. As Corrado tells his story, we see him relentlessly pulled back and forth between these “pompous blowhards,” as he calls them, an pawn whose life depends on maintaining good relations with all comers, while avoiding being too closely linked with anyone. And so, he is embroiled in the complexities of a tale based on historical events involving a broken marriage contract (simply not done at this time in Italy), and a scorned bride set on murder.
Heath imbues Corrado with a sense of humor in a story rich with detail – food, music, and clothing – as she narrates the consequences of what should have been a harmless prank. Instead the joke that launches the story touches not only the lives of Florence’s most noble families, but also deeply impacts a well-meaning jester who is merely trying to survive at a time when it is impossible for someone of his station to just say “no.”