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The Glassblower of Murano

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In this internationally bestselling debut, a heartbroken woman embarks on a grand exploration of life and love as a glassblower in the city of her ancestors, Venice, and learns that the past may not be as clear as blown glass.

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In this internationally bestselling debut, a heartbroken woman embarks on a grand exploration of life and love as a glassblower in the city of her ancestors, Venice, and learns that the past may not be as clear as blown glass.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"I would never have guessed that this was a first novel; Marina Fiorato has beautifully recreated the bright, glittering world of the seventeenth-century glassblower, and nestled it surely within a compelling contemporary romance." –Jeanne Kalogridis, author of The Borgia Bride and I, Mona Lisa

"The Glassblower of Murano is a compelling story, richly detailed, with wonderful, memorably drawn characters." –Diane Haeger, author of The Secret Bride and The Ruby Ring

"Fiorato captivates her reader as surely and intricately as the beautiful city of Venice enchants her characters. A fascinating tale of mystery and dedication, of love and betrayal." —Kate Furnivall, author of The Russian Concubine

Publishers Weekly

After the dissolution of her marriage, beautiful English artist Leonora Manin is hired as an apprentice glassblower in the Venetian suburb of Murano, in Fiorato's strong U.S. debut. Leonora's ancestor was master glassmaker Corradino Manin, and her new boss plans to exploit that connection. But centuries-old jealousies and treachery surface and the public relations campaign is suddenly canceled. A modern-day relative of Corradino's mentor resents Leonora, while a journalist who was once involved with Alessandro Bardolino, Leonora's new love, decides she wants him back. Complex connections, but nothing compared to those in Corradino's time, when draconian Venetian laws enslaved glassmakers on Murano to insure techniques would remain exclusive to Venice. The author's descriptive prose brings the beauty and danger of 17th-century Venice vividly to life, when Corradino became a traitor seeking freedom for himself and his secret daughter. Leonora's determined to investigate Corradino, but throughout, Alessandro's allegiance is suspect. Those who enjoy intrigue and European history will be easily drawn into this romantic story. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
First novel melds the stories of a 17th-century master craftsman and his modern-day descendant. Born in Venice, the product of her mother's short-lived marriage to vaporetto boatman Bruno Manin, Leonora was raised in England. Now in her mid-30s, Leonora has returned to Venice, fleeing her broken marriage, destroyed by too many futile courses of IVF and by her husband's infidelity. Leonora uses her divorce settlement to launch two long-deferred quests: to learn more about her late-Renaissance forbear, renowned glassblower Corradino Manin, and to become a Venetian glass maestra herself. First stop: the Isle of Murano, still Venice's main hub of artisanal glass. In Corradino's day, craftsmen were sequestered on Murano to prevent them from communicating the secrets on which Venice's glass monopoly depended. Leonora lands an apprenticeship in the fornace (glass atelier) of Adelino. But Roberto, descended from another fabled Murano glass man, Giacomo del Piero, uses her male colleagues' gender bias against her. Sexy policeman Alessandro insinuates himself into Leonora's bed, then goes intermittently AWOL. Desperate to increase sales, Adelino hires a PR crew to capitalize on the Manin cachet, using photogenic Leonora (repeatedly described as a Botticelli-blonde beauty) as a spokeswoman. The campaign backfires when Alessandro's ex-girlfriend, a tabloid reporter, interviews Roberto, who claims that Corradino sold Venice's glass formula to France, betraying his teacher and protector, Giacomo del Piero. Now happily pregnant but unemployed, Leonora must rehabilitate the Manin name by proving Corradino wasn't a traitor. Corradino's story alternates with Leonora's. Sole survivor of a noblefamily massacred by the Doge's enforcers, The Ten, Corradino, oppressed by constant surveillance, steals away to France to create Louis XIV's hall of mirrors at Versailles. But can he save his mentor, del Piero, and his secret daughter, Leonora, if The Ten tracks him down?Despite some awkward POV shifts, the action proceeds briskly, with just enough technical and period detail to sustain interest.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312386986
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 5/26/2009
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 165,765
  • Product dimensions: 8.36 (w) x 5.48 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Marina Fiorato is half-Venetian and a history graduate of Oxford University and the University of Venice, where she specialized in the study of Shakespeare’s plays as an historical source. She has worked as an illustrator, an actress, and a film reviewer, and designed tour visuals for rock bands including U2 and the Rolling Stones. Her historical fiction includes The Daughter of Siena, and The Botticelli Secret. Her debut novel, The Glassblower of Murano, was an international bestseller. She was married on the Grand Canal in Venice, and now lives in London with her family.

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Read an Excerpt

"When Nora had arrived in Venice she felt unmoored – as if she drifted, loosed from harbour, flowing here and there on the relentless arteries of tourism. Carried by crowds, lost in babel of foreign tongues she was caught in a glut of guttural Germans, or a juvenile crocodile of fluorescent French. Wandering, dazed, through San Marco she had reached the famous frontage of the Libreria Sansoviniana in the broglio. Nora fell through its portals in the manner of one stumbling into Casualty in search of much needed medical attention. She did not want to act like a tourist, and felt a strong resistance to their number. The beauty that she saw everywhere almost made her believe in God; it certainly made her believe in Venice...." —from The Glassblower of Murano

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Reading Group Guide

Venice, 1681. Glassblowing is the lifeblood of the Republic, and Venetian mirrors are more precious than gold. Jealously guarded by the murderous Council of Ten, the glassblowers of Murano are virtually imprisoned on their island in the lagoon. But the greatest of the artists, Corradino Manin, sells his methods and his soul to the Sun King, Louis XIV of France, to protect his secret daughter. In the present day his descendant, Leonora Manin, leaves an unhappy life in London to begin a new one as a glassblower in Venice. As she finds new life and love in her adoptive city, her fate becomes inextricably linked with that of her ancestor and the treacherous secrets of his life begin to come to light.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 55 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 55 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Carina Little Story- it Doesn't Blow

    I sort-of liked The Glassblower of Murano. Nora goes to Venice after her husband divorces her for a uglier woman. Her idea is to focus on her glassblowing career, inspired to go not only by a desire to develop her own artistic skill with glass but also by a desire to find a link to family, more precisely to a famous glassblower ancestor of a father she never knew. Not surprisingly she has to overcome some obstacles and finds some romance along the way. A lot of her success comes from her being a pretty blond that inspires men to move mountains to help her.

    What did I like? Well, I lived in Italy for a year, love Venice and the clever juxtaposition of the two family members lives being tied together generations apart was done fairly well and the vehicle was good. If you like romances and a little historical fiction, you will enjoy very much. The history of the glassblowers was the most intriguing part, I thought.

    What didn't I like? I didn't really like the heroine of the book, and those kinds of books are always hard sells. I never really connected to her and didn't really ever feel bad for her. I think it is just a character development issue for me. Her fish out of water story wasn't from her living in a new place, it was because she gets shunned at the workplace? She spends time telling us about the mother and her relationship with her. Then, for someone so concerned about "family" I didn't see a mention of her calling her mother to tell her about any of her big news, though she didn't have a problem mentioning how our erstwhile detective hero called his friends right away. She's supposed to not be concerned about money after the divorce but then we find out she's relieved she's been paid so she can make one month's rent... no other mention of money in the whole thing.

    Do I want to spend a whole book with someone I wouldn't like very much at a dinner party? As far as I could tell, Nora's only redeeming quality was that she was pretty and could decorate an apartment... interesting tidbits, but not a fleshed out person for me to like.

    Yes, yes, if the writing is good enough, the character development is good, the story is good... here, the writing was decent in parts, the story was good in parts, except just when I was getting ready to keep reading, I kept getting distracted by the break-out italicized thought quotes that were thrown in. The way I read-and I'm a fairly fast reader-made me stop this book a couple times and put it aside to read something else because I would stop and slow down so often in order to read the quote bubbles. If Marina had just told me what they were thinking in the text, I would have been happier. Again, maybe not an issue for everyone.

    Enough of this story stuck for me, in the end I would say that especially if historical romance is your deal, then read it. For me, I'm going to wait to see what Fiorata Marina comes out with next... with such smart ideas to anchor the book, I think practice with her writing will only make her better and I'll be willing to give her another chance.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    enjoyable, well-researched historical mysery

    I've been lucky enough to have been to Italy, seen glassblowers in action (if you're ever in Vermont, try and see the glassblowing demonstrations at Simon & Pearce at The Mill in Quechee) and be familiar with the singular glass that comes from the isle of Murano. So, I anticipated with pleasure this book that, on top of being touted as a historical mystery also blended in contemporary romance. I was in the mood.

    Right off the bat, I noticed the book has a decidedly European feel to it and I had to hasten to the dictionary a couple of times to figure out various European uses of words or phrases that couldn't be deciphered from context. Plus, until I got past page 100 or so, I was getting the feeling that the book was going to be much more Chick Lit vs. bona fide historical fiction. So, while I was not totally captivated or impressed initially, once the 1600s back story really got going that laid the groundwork for the modern-day mystery our heroine- one Leonora Manin, a young Brit trained in glassblowing just like her talented but infamous Italian ancestor Corradino Manin, the glass "maestro" of Murano-finds herself in, I wasn't expecting much.

    However, I am happy to report I was wrong. Once this first-time author gets the chance to show her incredible knowledge of Venice, the art of Venetian glass working and the history of the period, you're hooked and the story moves along at quite a clip. Fiorato manages to imbue both her modern-day and historical characters with lively and believable personalities as well as recreate the glittering, romantic world of 17th century Venice and France with aplomb. Her vivid descriptions of Venetian life, art and architecture, politics and culture left me with a whole new appreciation for the period as well as the yen to learn a little bit more Italian to better appreciate the treasures of Italian art when I next get the opportunity. Overall, I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone who has an interest in Italy, art or just good, solid historical mysteries. Like the glass so prized even today from the Island of Murano, Fiorato has put together a sparkling mystery as clear, hard and mesmerizing as the famed glass itself.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 2, 2011

    Journey of the heart! Good Buy!

    This is a story about a young woman's journey of self discovery and how she finds love just around the corner. While on her journey of self discovery Lenora moves to Italy to pursue her Craft and becomes a Master Glassblower along the way. As Lenora begins to look into her families past to find out more about her notorious relative she stumbles upon the secrets he kept and the scandals that surround him.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Neither the love story nor the adventure you'd be hoping for

    Alas, another historic fiction that reads as a formula. Fiorato gives some insight into Italian culture and society, but otherwise misses the exquisite beauty of glassblowing, the strength simmering within her own heroine, and originality. The plot is woman running from a legacy of the past repeats it, instead of solving her problems, dreams of man taking care of them. What's unfortunate is that there is a story line in the book that would have been worth pursing, specifically, that of a woman glassblower with a firey independence that matched the glass she was creating. Perhaps in a sequel, Fiorato will free the character to rise to her own potential on her own merits.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 9, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Evokes past and present Venice!

    Marina Fiorata's novel, The Glassblower of Murano, plunges the reader into Venetian history through the eyes of a descendant from 400 years of glassblowers. Two characters grab the reader's attention. One is Corradino Manin, a man who sells his techniques to Louis XIV to protect his 'orphan' daughter, living at the Pieta. The other is Leonora Manin who in the present day travels to a new life as a glassblower in the city of her birth.
    The author depicts Venice as the beautiful yet seamy lady she is-the constant lapping of the water, the pastel wedding cake houses, the glory of San Marco, the palace of the Doge and much more with concrete, specific details that make the story come alive. Venice portrays a shadowy character in the novel.
    The shifts between three periods of history--Corradino Manin from Venice's distant past, Corradino Manin, the present day Leonora's grandfather; Leonora, the secret daughter of the Corradino of the past, and Leonora, the present day glassblower-occur without clear demarcation. Headings noting the date would easily fix this problem. The similarity of the names compounds the confusion.
    The author obviously put a lot of time and attention into researching Venice's past and brings Venice to life in the novel, showing both the crude and enchanting sides of a fascinating city. Towards the end of the novel, the tempo accelerates to the breakneck pace of a thriller and I could not stop turning the pages. A patient reader will find a lovely, determined woman, richly characterized figures from the past and a wonderful romance. For lovers of historical novels and exotic places, this is a great read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 5, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Marina Florato provides a strong thriller

    In 1681 in the Republic of Venice, glassblowing is the major industry; throughout the continent everyone especially the wealthy demands Venetian glass and mirrors. The Council of Ten controls the city-state's glassblowing guild to the point they will kill to keep scabs out. The most famous Venetian artist Corradino Manin is forced to sell his secret methods to French King Louis XIV in order to keep his hidden daughter safe though by doing so the cost is his heart and soul.--------

    Centuries later, descendant, Leonora Manin leaves a broken marriage and London having obtained work as a modern day apprentice glassblower in the Venetian suburb Murano. Her boss knows of her connection to the greatest glassblower ever and plans to take advantage of her illustrious ancestry. Jealousy as it did several hundred years ago leaves the British expatriate in trouble with her vocation and with hAlessandro Bardolino; however, as she researches her great ancestor she realizes her troubles are minor envies compared to what Corradino faced from invidious villains.-------------

    The descriptions of seventeenth century Venice as a literally backstabbing dangerous place will hook the audience even as the contemporary subplot is exciting and well written. The story line is fast-paced as the two Manin's three plus centuries apart face some of the seven deadly sins though the difference in how deadly what each confronts is quite startling as his lethal to the body and the soul while hers is more spiritual. Marina Florato provides a strong thriller.-

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2013

    Main Character a Little Bland

    I read this book after going to Venice and feeling drawn to the history of Murano glass. The historical information in this book is interesting, and the story is alright. However, the main character (who you're supposed to be rooting for as she begins a new life) is not very sympathetic. She felt rather weak to me, which was a shame because I really wanted to like her!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2012

    Keeps you reading

    I thought that this was a great book. The first book by this author is a more suspensful read but this one was really good too. I had to keep reading to see what happened!

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  • Posted July 30, 2012

    Another hit

    This I would recommend to all young ladies and older women. Ms. Fiorato's spin on glassblowers is great. Would recommend to all.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2012

    Good book

    I actually got this as "free Friday" book and wasn't expecting much but it turned out to be a really enjoyable read. The characters and setting are very interesting. Good book.

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  • Posted May 7, 2011

    Wonderful storyteller!

    Keeps your attention through the entire read. Master storytelling. Love the switches between perspectives that keep your mind wondering about whats going to happen next. Captures you with an old story with many twists and turns. Great read!! I highly recommend.

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  • Posted September 19, 2009

    Glassblower of Murano

    I Recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historic fiction

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 1, 2009

    I was disappointed.

    Both the jacket preview and illustration led me to expect something more from this novel than it delivered. The historical setting is drawn moderately well, although not in a way that made me feel immersed in its time. I don't wish to be too negative, because I might have enjoyed this more if I hadn't read it after two beautifully written, highly original novels: The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Venice, historical and modern

    Interesting dual plot. It helps to have an understanding of Venice when reading this book. I found the beginning difficult because I'm not familiar with Venice. It lead me to want to know more about Venice's history.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2009

    "Glassblower of Murano" is a romantic story of historic Venice

    Marina Fiorato has crafted a fascinating story of the glassblowing art told through the eyes of two talented glassblowers of Murano--one who lived during the time of the Doges, and the other his descendant in modern Venice. The descriptions of Venice are rich in detail and the life stories of the characters compellingly told.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 18, 2009

    Glassblower of Murano

    Loved this book! Having never been to Italy, the view through the eyes of a resident (as opposed to a tourist) is perfect. The history of the glassblowers art is fascinating and the mystery surrounding the death of her ancestor is wellwritten and suspenseful to the end. Definitely recommend!

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  • Posted May 14, 2009

    Definitely recommended!

    Recovering from a divorce, Leonora Manin flees England for Venice, land of her heritage, for a new start as the first female glassblower of Murano, following in the footsteps of her famous forebear Corradino Manin. There she seeks to rebuild her life and discover more about her ancestor. After an accusation that Corradino was really a traitor, Leonora's world is turned upside down, losing all that she had gained in her rebuilding. The novel follows both Leonora in the present-day and Corradino during his last days.
    I found the novel to be excellent; a relaxing, well-flowing read that was definitely a page-turner. I thought the first chapter or two to be a little awkward, but I think that may have been a product of exam stress and exhaustion. Definitely recommend!

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  • Posted April 17, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Definately not what I expected - great story!

    I was not sure what to expect when I opened this book, but was pleasantly surprised. The story flowed nicely, the characters were believable, and I learned alot about the history and art of glassblowing. It was a fun book all in all. When I am entertained and learn something at the same time, I know it's good! I would recommend this bood to anyone looking for a good read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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