In fifteenth-century Venice, there is a revolution going on. Not the kind where people are killing each other (at least not too many), but the kind where things are changing so fast and so furiously that almost no one can keep up. Wendelin von Speyer has just arrived from Germany and has brought with him a fabulous new invention that will cause a cultural revolution tidal wave that no one can turn back: Gutenberg’s movable type. Speyer, his young editor Bruno Uguccione, and the scribe Felice Feliciano begin the city’s first printing press.
Enter the gorgeous and unscrupulous Sosia Simeon, who delights in her dark compulsion of marking her territory citywide by stealing pleasure from any and all men of any and all sorts she can find. Soon Sosia lures Felice and Bruno into a love triangle. Bruno has become enamoured by the poems of the erotic Roman poet Catullus. That scandal is only the tip of the iceberg when Wendelin has the nerve to publish the poet and disrupts the lives of all concerned for better or worse forever.
The Floating Book is a glorious novel from a student of European literature and Venetian culture, and it shows. This book transports the reader back in time and a continent away. The characters are lovingly written and deftly developed. The settings are so lush and beautiful that readers will ache to see Venice if they never have and pine to see it again if they have already seen it. Lovric utilizes dialogue to every advantage to move her story along and indicate emotion and nuance. Her plot is very strong without being predictable.
Sosia is unabashedly passionate and downright lusty; she is also completely unapologetic for it. While she is not a very sympathetic character, Lovric gives her enough humanity to keep readers from hating her. In a scene where she has been painted in an unflattering light, she starts to kick a child out of anger. But she stops when the artist tells her to kick the child if she must, but he believes she knows what it is like to be kicked as a child. She does not kick the child.
Do not let the length of the book put you off the time will fly and you probably will not put it down until you finish it. It is that good. The Floating Book would make a great Christmas gift for any book lovers on your Christmas list. Just a hint.