The Secret of the Glass
In the early 17th century, the art of glassblowing is highly respected by the Venetian government, and some of its practitioners are extremely wealthy and allowed to marry into the nobility. But these privileges come at a high price: the glassblowers live in virtual imprisonment on the island of Murano, since the government fears the loss of income that would result from the glassblowers’ sharing their secrets with foreigners. And no women are allowed to practice the art. But Sophia Fiolario, the daughter of one of Murano’s most talented glassmakers, learns the art from her father in secret, and wants nothing more than to continue perfecting it. Her father, though, is dying, and can no longer make the glass.
When Sophia is sought in marriage by an arrogant nobleman, she finds herself drawn into political intrigue at the Doge’s court, and becomes involved with Galileo’s discoveries, making the lenses for Galileo’s new invention, the telescope, while allowing everyone to believe it was her father who made them. At a party at the Doge’s Palace, which she is forced to attend in her fiancé’s company, she meets Teodoro, the impoverished younger son of a nobleman. He is not allowed to marry; she is engaged to another, but together they find true love. But will he find a way for her to escape from her situation while allowing her to keep the secret of the glass?
Donna Russo Morin brings the world of the Murano glassblowers to life in outstanding detail, with wonderful descriptions of the glassmaking process, and she draws the reader into the life of 17th century Venice. Sophia is a strong, intelligent heroine whom the reader will care about.