The Daughters of the Doge

Written by Edward Charles
Review by Susan Higginbotham

In this novel, the sequel to In the Shadow of Lady Jane, young Richard Stocker is still mourning his friend Lady Jane Grey when he accepts an invitation to accompany Edward Courtenay, Earl of Devon, to Venice. A Protestant in a country ruled by the Catholic “Bloody” Mary, Richard is eager to take the excuse to leave England for a time and to consider whether he wants to devote his life to the practice of medicine. Richard soon finds, however, that he has not left intrigue behind in England. And when the vain Courtenay decides that he must have his portrait done at an inexpensive price, Richard’s dogged quests through Venice’s art studios will lead him to convents and courtesans—and to a new love as well.

Earnest and resourceful, Richard, the narrator, is a likeable hero, whose coming-of-age story is all the more appealing for being set in the atmospheric location of 16th-century Venice. Charles neatly integrates historical characters, including Courtenay, Francis Walsingham, Titian, and courtesan Veronica Franco, into Richard’s adventures, and he employs a broad variety of Venetian settings, from slums to convents to art studios. The story of an innocent abroad who gains experience and a fresh start, Daughters of the Doge is an engaging tale.