The Pindar Diamond

( 12 )

Overview

In a small town on the Italian coast, a mysterious woman washes ashore. She is crippled, mute, and clutches a bundle to her chest—a baby the townspeople insist is a real-life mermaid. It can only bring bad luck; they pay a troupe of acrobats to carry mother and child away.

In the bustling trade center of Venice, merchant Paul Pindar is the subject of his colleagues' concern. Since his return from Constantinople, they have found him changed; raging over the loss of his beloved, ...

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The Pindar Diamond: A Novel

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Overview

In a small town on the Italian coast, a mysterious woman washes ashore. She is crippled, mute, and clutches a bundle to her chest—a baby the townspeople insist is a real-life mermaid. It can only bring bad luck; they pay a troupe of acrobats to carry mother and child away.

In the bustling trade center of Venice, merchant Paul Pindar is the subject of his colleagues' concern. Since his return from Constantinople, they have found him changed; raging over the loss of his beloved, Celia, he has gambled away his fortune at the gaming tables. But when a priceless blue diamond surfaces in the city, Pindar recognizes the opportunity to regain everything he has lost—including, perhaps, the woman he loves.

A celebrated writer of history and travel books, Katie Hickman has always been a master of evoking time and place. With The Pindar Diamond, her follow-up to The Aviary Gate, she brings early-seventeenth-century Italy vividly to life, and also demonstrates her maturity as a novelist. A tale of love and avarice, with a touch of the mystical, The Pindar Diamond is rich with historical detail, and unfolds with urgency and grace. It is accomplished, wholly satisfying historical fiction.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Hickman's coincidence-heavy latest (after The Aviary Gate), Paul Pindar, a 17th-century English merchant working in Venice, is obsessed with the Sultan's Blue, a 322-carat diamond coveted by every collector in the plague-ravaged city. Pindar, broke from drinking and gambling, needs the diamond to ransom his captive love from a sultan's harem. Intertwined with his story are those of Sister Annetta, a convent novitiate who alone knows how the Sultan's Blue came to Venice, and Maryam, an acrobat charged with escorting a crippled mute and her deformed newborn (who might be a mermaid) to Venice. When Pindar learns that the Sultan's Blue will be the prize in a high-stakes card game, he desperately tries to scheme his way to the table, going against warnings from fellow traders Ambrose Smith, a covert intelligencer, and John Carew, a friend with his own secret. Though the narrative moves from Pindar to Annetta to Maryam in a frustratingly helter-skelter fashion, Hickman provides a convincing portrait of a troubled Venice that will tide readers over until the story elements click into place just in time for a series of satisfying resolutions. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
"Katie Hickman’s vividly drawn historical confection transports us to 17th-century Venice, where an English merchant schemes to win the 322-carat gem of the novel’s title at the gaming table while several storylines converge with page-turning satisfaction."  – Barnes & Noble Review

 “Hickman’s well-researched, vivid portraits of seventeenth-century life—from the stinking Venetian canals to the threat of plague, in settings rangingfrom a sultan’s harem to a cloistered convent—add... much vigor to this historical novel” – Booklist

 

“Masks, courtesans, nefarious plots, plague—Hickman’s panorama of early-17th-century Venice has it all.” –Kirkus

“A celebrated writer of history and travel books, Katie Hickman has always been a master of evoking time and place. With The Pindar Diamond , her follow-up to The Aviary Gate , she brings early-seventeenth-century Italy vividly to life, and also demonstrates her maturity as a novelist. A tale of love and avarice, with a touch of the mystical, The Pindar Diamond is rich with historical detail, and unfolds with urgency and grace. It is accomplished, wholly satisfying historical fiction.” –Passages to the Past

Kirkus Reviews

Masks, courtesans, nefarious plots, plague—Hickman's (The Aviary Gate,2008, etc.) panorama of early-17th-century Venice has it all.

It's 1604 and Venice is awash in rumors about the Sultan's Blue, a dazzling diamond of 100-plus carats, reputedly stolen from the Ottoman Padushah. Gaming impresario Zuanne Memmo is organizing the Venice equivalent of a marathon game of high-stakes poker, at which the participants deposit all they have—in advance—to play to win the fist-sized gem. English merchant Paul Pindar wants in—he's been bankrupted by too many despairing binges after his betrothed, Celia Lamprey, was kidnapped by pirates and sold into the harem of the very same Padushah in Constantinople. She was, he thinks, killed in an escape attempt. Celia's fellow captive Annetta met a better fate—richly rewarded for her service to the Sultan's mother, she's returned in triumph to the Venetian convent were she was once a lowly servant-nun. As Pindar squabbles with his rebellious valet John Carew (who has a proclivity for seducing nuns) and his erstwhile employer Ambrose Jones, he of the Cyrano-sized nose and hidden agenda, another story line slouches toward Venice: An all-female troupe of tumblers and magicians, led by gentle giantess Maryam, wends its way along the coast. A smuggler, Bocelli, bribed the troupe to take in a young woman and her newborn, born with the tail of a mermaid. The mother cannot speak and appears to have been savagely beaten, her legs deliberately broken. Once in Venice, Maryam realizes that Bocelli planned to sell the newborn to Ambrose, who brokers oddities, dead or alive. Constanza, a kindly courtesan, tries to dissuade Pindar from playing for the Blue. She can't confess her love for him—that would violate the code of her profession.

The plot is as murky as the giant rock's provenance, but the supple prose invites the reader to double back for clues.The ending, though, skirts a fine line between predictability and anticlimax.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781608192137
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 8/17/2010
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 793,099
  • Product dimensions: 8.48 (w) x 11.04 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Katie Hickman is the author of several previous books, including history books, travel narratives, and novels. She has been shortlisted for the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award, and for the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year award. Hickman lives in London with her two children and her husband, the philosopher A.C. Grayling.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 12 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 6, 2011

    Better than the first book

    It wasn't until I got to the end of the book that I realized this was a sequel to Hickman's Aviary Gate. That being said, I really enjoyed the book! I never felt lost or clueless, though I could tell that the characters had a considerable past together. Enough was revealed about their previous adventures to ensure that I wasn't left in the dark.
    This tale focuses on three plots that are all connected by a large, rare jewel called The Sultan's Blue. There's a look at the life of a nun who was once in a harem, a troupe of acrobat women, and a gambler and his cohorts. I felt that there was a strong cast of characters and though they all had such strong personalities, they didn't clash.
    After reading this book, I purchased the Aviary Gate, so I can see how it all began.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2012

    Good Read!

    Starts off slow, the mystery of the story itself will keep reading.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2013

    I Also Recommend:

    Better than first BUT reading The Aviary Gate is why I was SO ca

    Better than first BUT reading The Aviary Gate is why I was SO captivated by the atmosphere of the setting and the tragedy of the characters.  This is not the  most lyrical writing but the author utterly captured me and transported me to an era of beauty, squalor, desperation, and nobility.   I hope for more from this author.

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