Remedy

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Overview

In this darkly beautiful and hauntingly vivid novel, Michelle Lovric, acclaimed author of The Floating Book, embarks on an unforgettable journey through the winding alleys and shadowy streets of eighteenth-century Venice and London. With vibrant prose, she weaves together the stories of three disparate yet intertwined characters who find themselves embroiled in a world of murder and secrets. There is Mimosina Dolcezza, the Venetian actress employed as an agente provocatrice by surreptitious European power ...

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The Remedy: A Novel

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Overview

In this darkly beautiful and hauntingly vivid novel, Michelle Lovric, acclaimed author of The Floating Book, embarks on an unforgettable journey through the winding alleys and shadowy streets of eighteenth-century Venice and London. With vibrant prose, she weaves together the stories of three disparate yet intertwined characters who find themselves embroiled in a world of murder and secrets. There is Mimosina Dolcezza, the Venetian actress employed as an agente provocatrice by surreptitious European power brokers. By fortune and circumstance, she begins an affair with the elusive Valentine Greatrakes, a roguish fixture within London's medical underworld. Complicating matters for the pair is the presence of the eccentric and strange child-woman Pevenche, a figure whose fate and identity lie at the heart of the book's mystery.

Following this shadowy group from the dark environs of London's Bankside to the lively streets of Venice, The Remedy guides us through playhouses, brothels, and convents with luscious details that breathe intoxicating life into the era. Long-listed for the prestigious Orange Prize for Fiction, The Remedy is a seductive and suspenseful tale that stays with you long after you've turned the final page.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Set in London and Venice during the late 18th century, Lovric's labyrinthine, grandly imagined second novel (after The Floating City) follows the dramatic vicissitudes of the love affair between the Venetian actress Mimosina Dolcezza and the Irish-born Valentine Greatrakes. The narrative opens with the first-person tale of a lovely, tempestuous aristocratic girl's banishment to a Venetian convent, where her rebellious nature doesn't endear her to the holy sisters. They prostitute her to an Englishman, who impregnates and abandons her. After her baby dies in childbirth, she attempts escape, which only lands her in the clutches of a shadowy group of men: the Council of 10 and the Inquisitors of Venice. They train the young blue blood as an actress-spy and rename her Mimosina Dolcezza. Charged to seduce men of state and extract their secrets, Mimosina spends the next 16 years "warming political beds" across Europe, a career that becomes all the more unbearable when she meets her true love, Valentine Greatrakes, the handsome kingpin of London's medical black-market. Their stories alternate throughout the novel, as Lovric details in titillating but fresh, graceful prose the blossoming and sundering of their love, followed by their difficult journeys toward reunion and a final miraculous revelation. (Nov.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Lovric's (The Floating Book) second novel is a complex narrative set in 18th-century Venice and London and filled with lush description and historical detail. Tom, an English entrepreneur, picks Venetian actress Mimosina from a convent for sport, then casts her aside after she bears his child. She is then forced by a Venetian government cabal to spy on foreign officials and eventually meets the Englishman's partner, Valentine, as well as a strange child-woman named Pevenche, whose guardianship passes to Valentine when Tom is murdered. Of the three main characters, the women tell their narratives in the first person, while the man's story is conveyed through the third, rather evening up for the women's lack of control over their own fates. Readers hoping to be enlightened on events by the shifts in viewpoint will instead find that all the characters are clueless regarding the others' motives and desires. Still, this book has a twist ending to be relished. The London scenes are as graphic and compelling as those in Michel Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White, although Lovric deals with an earlier century. For all public libraries.-Mary Kay Bird, Wichita P.L., KS Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Lovric's second historical novel (The Floating Book, 2004) travels between London and Venice to follow a Venetian actress's unconventional romance with a British entrepreneur/criminal in the late 1700s. The nuns at the convent where her patrician parents have placed her turn a blind eye when 15-year-old Catarina Venier carries on an affair with an Englishman outside the convent gates, but then she gets pregnant, her lover abandons her and the baby dies in childbirth. After hot-tempered Catarina attacks a nun, she is declared legally dead. Actually, she is forced to spy for the Inquisitors of Venice while assuming a new identity as the actress Mimosina Dolcezza. While performing in London, Mimosina begins a love affair with a theater patron, Valentine Greatrakes. She believes that through marriage to an Englishman of substance like Greatrakes, she can escape her Venetian enslavement to the Inquisitors. She thinks she has only one obstacle: Greatrakes's devotion to Pevenche, the bratty daughter of his recently murdered best friend Tom. Actually, Greatrakes is a violent charlatan and member of the London underworld who woos Mimosina under the mistaken assumption that she lacks guile. Each lover's secret and the tricks each performs to ensnare the other often work against the affair. The Inquisitors order Mimosina back to Venice. Unaware that Valentine has followed, she escapes in a gondola and returns to London where, working for a con artist, she learns Valentine's real station in life. Despite the merciless plot twists, Lovric's real fascination is with the cities she describes in loving if endless detail.
Philadelphia Inquirer
Praise for The Floating Book:“Richly textured…at turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, exhilarating and terrifying.”
Entertainment Weekly
“A bodice ripper for the Mensa set, The Remedy is a ravishing, meticulously authentic buffet of words and sensations.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060837037
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 11/22/2005
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Michelle Lovric is the winner of the London Arts Writer's Award, the editor of the New York Times bestseller Love Letters, and the author of the widely acclaimed novel The Floating Book. She divides her time between Venice and London, where she lives in a Venetian-style setting on the Thames near Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.

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Read an Excerpt

The Remedy

A Novel
By Michelle Lovric

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Michelle Lovric
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060837039

Chapter One

An Anodyne Epithem

Take Brandy 4 ounces; Camphire half a dram; Opium 2 drams, dissolve.

It comforts the Nervous parts, by its warmth appeaseth the raging Spirits, penetrates deep, sets open the Pores, attenuates, dissipates, obtunds the dolorific Matter, and drives it off by Diaphoresis.

I was an unwilling nun, bundled into the convent by a family that had briefly lost its head over a trivial adolescent melodrama. My ultimate crime was such a negligible one that it's not worth the recounting. One day I was the pride and idol of my parents, roaming freely around the family palazzo with my tribe of high-bred she-dogs, having my hair dressed, clowning adorably at my dancing lessons, having my portrait painted. I believe I was a little willful with the artist. That's all. Yet the next day I was in San Zaccaria, which was by way of being our family convent, as at least six unmarriageable aunts had been deposited there and a number of my plainer cousins. At first I thought it just a brief punishment, a warning, some time to cool my heels. There was no problem of conjuring a dowry for me, and I was far from ugly, being a piquant blonde of the kind that precociously detained male attention. But after a few weeks I began to suspect the dreadful truth: that my parents meant to keep me there.

And I realized that it had been in the planning for some time.

I already knew the inside of San Zaccaria all too well. And my parents had every excuse to feel satisfied in their consciences, despite my protests, with this destiny they had thrust on me.

For the nuns had caught me early by my sweet tooth, hanging sugared almonds, balsamic lozenges, and candied fruit in the humid swoop of the orchard branches whenever we went, in my infant days, to visit two or three aunts Catarina, our family's Christian name for girls. No one remarked upon the lovely crop or stopped me snatching jellies from their strings or cracking pink-nubbed nuts against my milk-teeth. So I was free to think that in convents such things grew on trees, whereas at home they must be prayed for. A happy mouth does not forget what once befriended it.

In Venice, the noble dynasties were recorded in our so-called "Golden Book." And each Golden Book family stored its female shadow, like its conscience, in a nunnery: seventeen Contarini at Santa Catarina, a score of Moresini at Spirito Santo, the Balbi at Sant'Andrea de Zirada. And the unwanted Foscarini and Querini women were interred in our own living crypt at San Zaccaria.

At ten, I'd joined the boat when my cousin Paola made her bridal tour of convents, to salute her sisters sealed in chastity. This archaic ritual was long out of fashion, yet my uncle persisted with it, for the sake of the family nuns who loved company and whose isolation was a constant source of inadmissible guilt. They'd been given to God, who asked the merest thousand-ducat dowry, this so my Uncle Paolo could spend thirty thousand on a Gradenigo bridegroom for Paola and a new infusion of old Golden Book blood into his grandchildren.

Her confined cousins blessed Paola with dead eyes, forked almond crescents through the grille into her violable mouth, for while they might feed her, they were not allowed to touch the bride's naked hand. Meanwhile, for me, there were buckwheat wafers thin as hosts but interleaved with honeyed whipped cream, still-smoking fritters brisk with powdered musk and spiced panpepato such as I was not allowed at home.

When I was twelve, the nuns asked me would I like to see the kitchens? A noble girl, I'd never seen one, so why not? Down I went, and there I found such red-cheeked happiness pulling such trays of sweet warmth from gnashing ovens, such lucent bottles of Seville syrups staining the glass of the windows, such a hot and blissful hub of softening, folding, melting, lubricating, rising, turning, glazing, and stacking in painted boxes destined for fine tables that I cried when they made me go home. I wasn't bred for such low labor myself, but I was partial to watching it.

And so I continued to visit San Zaccaria regularly and felt myself at home there. I even boarded at times as a schoolgirl, sleeping in the rooms of my aunts while my desultory education continued in a classroom next to the refectory.

I called on the convent kitchens as a sparrow calls on a bird-table, taking what I wanted and flitting off. No one could bake marzipan cakes like those nuns at San Zaccaria, except perhaps those at Sant'Alvise. Most certainly no one made such frothing chocolate or served it in such elegant caudle cups. I came so often to drink it that a special cup was reserved for me.

It seemed such an agreeable place. One of the loveliest gardens in Venice was San Zaccaria's. Still more pleasing was the orchard, with its delicate swathing of trees. The convent was more like a pleasure house in the country than a fortress for God's brides. Terracotta enfilades laced with arches of white Istrian stone led to two graceful cloisters, one even ornamented with a loggia above. From the door of their cells the nuns saw the church cupola rising above them in harmonious composition with the apse and campanile. Just beyond our southern wall lay the Riva degli Schiavoni and the basin of San Marco: A fresh salt air purified the cloisters even in the summer, though in the winter, being at a low point of the city, they were sometimes briefly transformed into dismal lakes, and, once or twice, into mirrors of ice.

The convent was to the south of the church. At the necessary hours, the nuns filed there quietly and positioned themselves in severely grilled galleries. From behind those grilles they . . .

Continues...


Excerpted from The Remedy by Michelle Lovric Copyright © 2006 by Michelle Lovric. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Enjoyed this book!

    I really enjoyed reading this book. The plot starts slowly, and confusing at times. Keep with it, the plot develops quickly, with a surprise near the end that caught me off guard. Even though I haven't been to Italy I felt like I was there. Not a "beach read" though, it takes a bit of thought, and you need to pay close attention or you will have to back track to see where you missed the turns in the story.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2009

    Entertaining!

    I was traveling through Italy this summer which included a visit to Venice and found this book in a hotel guest library. The story takes place in Venice and is a good historical fiction with, romance and drama. I could not put it down, it kept me very entertained. I have already sent it to a friend. Enjoy.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2006

    Second part of the book was a '5', what happened to the first half?

    The first half of the book was long and drawn out and after stabilizing the character's stories, there was about 50 pages where nothing went on and I was even debating not finishing the book. However, the second half was almost like reading a different story. The plot became more structured, and you began to actually see the characters coming into their own. Overall, it was just as the '3' star rating says okay, but not great.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 30, 2006

    Good book (just be sure your have NO distractions)!

    I was suprised to see another reviewer found this book to be 'the worst book' he/she has ever read. While I am certainly not saying 'The Remedy' is the Best book I have read, I would definitely recommend it to a friend. The story does tend to jump around and introduces many characters. However, Michelle Lovric is very good at developing scenery and charaters and she has a way of making the unbelievable, believable. I loved her first novel 'The Floating Book'! Bottomline: Good read very complex, so make sure you have a quiet area to fully enjoy this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2006

    Quite possibly the worst

    This book is quite possibly the worst mistake I have ever picked up. If you find yourself feeling intrigued by this story, run to the nearest shrink and beg for an hour of their time. The characters are undeveloped and unbeleivable selfish, the 'plot' skips back and forth between so many different scenes and venues you forget what you read 5 minutes ago. I love reading and I have rarely met a book a didn't like but if I could sum this one up in a single word it would be DISGUSTING. Find something else to torture yourself with.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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