Monday, April 30, 2007

The Rossetti Letter by Christi Phillips

The Rossetti Letter was another new book found on the Kewaunee Library new book shelf that looked quite intriguing. I finished it on Friday when we were driving up to Ashland for Heather's wedding. Luckily Ben doesn't like to be a passenger so I get to spend my trips reading books/magazines and keeping Kile entertained.

I liked this book. It told two intersecting stories. One story is set in present day American, where Claire Donovan struggles to finish her dissertation on the Spanish plot to overthrow the Venetian Republic in 1618. Her main angle is about Alessandra Rossetti, a courtesan, who wrote a letter to the Venetian Council of Ten that uncovered the plot. Rossetti is a mysterious figure and it is hard to find out information about her. To make matters worse, Claire discovered that another researcher at Cambridge is about to publish findings on the same subject and is giving a talk about it in Venice. This will destroy Claire's chances to finish her dissertation and get a good job. Claire is able to find funding to attend the conference in Venice and finish her research by being a chaperone to a young teenage girl named Gwen. Once Claire gets to Venice, she races to uncover the mystery of Alessandra and meets a hot Italian man along the way. And of course Gwen makes her travels much more interesting.

The second story is about Alessandra herself and gives the reader the background of her life, descision to be a courtesan, life as a courtesan, and the events leading up to her letter. It was intriguing, sad, and a passionate love story.

I liked the book a lot, I thought it was a good read combining mystery, romance, bonding of two women, etc. The only problem I had with it was the ending. Maybe I'm too picky (and reasoning like an engineer), but the clues she put together at the end made a "theory" and was not hard fact like the book seemed to imply. She had a theory, which was correct because we read the back story, but there was really no difinitive way to prove it. I kind of wish that would have been wrapped up better.

This book kind of reminded me of two books I've read in the last year or so. It was kind of like Possession by A.S. Byatt, but easier to read. It was also like The Painter by Will Davenport. If you liked either of those novels, you will like this one. And if you didn't like Possession because it got kind of drawn out and boring, this book gets more to the chase faster and is shorter! :-)

It sounds like there will be another book after this and I'm looking forward to it!

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