The Secret of the Glass

The Secret of the Glass

by Donna Russo Morin
3.4 15

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Overview

The Secret of the Glass by Donna Russo Morin

The Murano glassmakers of Venice are celebrated and revered. But now three are dead, killed for attempting to leave the city that both prized their work and kept them prisoner. For in this, the 17th century, the secret of their craft must, by law, never leave Venetian shores. Yet there is someone who keeps the secret while defying tradition. She is Sophia Fiolario, and she, too, is a glassmaker. Her crime is being a woman. . .

Sophia is well aware that her family would be crushed by scandal if the truth of her knowledge and skill with glass were revealed. But there has never been any threat. . .until now. A wealthy nobleman with strong connections to the powerful Doge has requested her hand in marriage, and her refusal could draw dangerous attention. Yet having to accept and cease her art would devastate her. If there is an escape, Sophia intends to find it.

Now, between creating precious glass parts for one of Professor Galileo Galilei's astonishing inventions and attending lavish parties at the Doge's Palace, Sophia is crossing paths with very influential people—including one who could change her life forever. But in Venice, every secret has its price. And Sophia must decide how much she is willing to pay.

Praise for Donna Russo Morin's The Courtier's Secret

"As opulent and sparkling as Louis XIV's court and as filled with intrigue, passion and excitement as a novel by Dumas. . .a feast for the senses." —Romantic Times (4 stars)

"Vivid, delightful, spirited. . .a page-turner as smooth as fine cognac."
–Steven Manchester, author of The Unexpected Storm

"A wonderfully spun gem of a story." —Armchair Reviews

Reading Group Guide Inside

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780758226921
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 03/01/2010
Pages: 384
Product dimensions: 5.48(w) x 8.22(h) x 1.06(d)

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Secret of the Glass 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
TheStephanieLoves More than 1 year ago
Is it just me, or was history class one of the most painful classes ever, in high school? It wasn't particularly hard, just...boring. This book is of the "historical fiction" genre. For me, reading historical novels was always the best part of history class. It became weary to have to read pages and pages of thick, heavy textbooks, and then sit through hours and hours of dull documentaries (though they were an easy method for me to catch up on my sleep), so being able to read something fictional, yet still relevant, was always a sort of relief. Had I been given the chance to read this book in 10th grade Honors World History, I might have dreaded that course a little less. Otherwise, I couldn't quite get myself to enjoy this book. Don't get me wrong, it's beautifully written. Morin pays such breathtaking attention to detail, and I swear, there wasn't one word that was used twice throughout the entire book. Aside from extensive vocabulary and amazing imagery however, the story lacked intrigue. Sophia, the protagonist, is an entirely two-dimensional character. She's the most beautiful of the three Fiolario daughters, and the most innocent of them too. Her biggest concerns are 1) her father is suffering from dementia; 2) she is betrothed to a man she despises, Pasquale da Fuligna; 3) she is in "love" with another man, Teodoro Gradenigo; and 4) she is the only woman in the world who knows the art of glassmaking. But because Sophia was such an unrealistic and unmoving character, I couldn't find mind myself feeling sympathetic for her at all. First of all, she practically bawled every time her father blanked out. Every so often, he would forget everything, everyone, and the doctors said he was losing his mind to age. Sophia is supposed to be the practical goody-good virgin; she's not doing anything practical or goody-good by crying for her father's disease. It was painful for me to read about such babyish behavior. Secondly, Morin made it clear that Sophia must marry da Fuligna, a man who is neither rich, nor handsome in any way. I actually laughed at this a little; surely the Fiolario family must have had the tiniest ounce of dignity. Why they would marry their eldest daughter off to a man who neither loved their daughter, nor had anything to offer, I'll be darned. And of course, Teodoro. Ah. He was probably the only character in the book I could imagine without giggling or wincing. Handsome, charming, polite...what a gentleman. So much of gentleman to Sophia actually, that within first meeting him, she declared to herself that she was in love with him. Chemistry? Nooo, who needs chemistry when you have love at first sight (even though you're already engaged)? Morin was clearly attempting to weave an intricate plot with complicated details, but for some reason, the two didn't mix. The Secret of the Glass made out for a really, really interesting textbook. I could have written my essay on Roman Studies with just this book, in the 10th grade. But as a novel, it was weak and had difficulty capturing my attention. I understand that this book was written because of an initial passion Donna Russo Morin held for Italian glassworks...a little too big of a passion, perhaps? I mean, the first paragraph of the book is an epic simile where glassblowing is compared to the reaching of an orgasm. I thought I was a fan of the hot and sweaty stuff until I read those few lines.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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RtBBlog More than 1 year ago
Review by Stephanie: Is it just me, or was history class one of the most painful classes ever, in high school? It wasn't particularly hard, just...boring. For me, reading historical novels was always the best part of history class. It became weary to have to read pages and pages of thick, heavy textbooks, and then sit through hours and hours of dull documentaries (though they were an easy method for me to catch up on my sleep), so being able to read something fictional, yet still relevant, was always a sort of relief. Had I been given the chance to read The Secrets of the Glass in 10th grade Honors World History, I might have dreaded that course a little less. Otherwise, I couldn't quite get myself to enjoy this book. Don't get me wrong, it's beautifully written. Morin pays such breathtaking attention to detail, and I swear, there wasn't one word that was used twice throughout the entire book. Aside from extensive vocabulary and amazing imagery however, the story lacked intrigue. Sophia, the protagonist, is an entirely two-dimensional character. She's the most beautiful of the three Fiolario daughters, and the most innocent of them too. Her biggest concerns are 1) her father is suffering from dementia; 2) she is betrothed to a man she despises, Pasquale da Fuligna; 3) she is in "love" with another man, Teodoro Gradenigo; and 4) she is the only woman in the world who knows the art of glassmaking. But because Sophia was such an unrealistic and unmoving character, I couldn't find mind myself feeling sympathetic for her at all. First of all, she practically bawled every time her father blanked out. Every so often, he would forget everything, everyone, and the doctors said he was losing his mind to age. Sophia is supposed to be the practical goody-good virgin; she's not doing anything practical or goody-good by crying for her father's disease. It was painful for me to read about such babyish behavior. Secondly, Morin made it clear that Sophia must marry da Fuligna, a man who is neither rich, nor handsome in any way. I actually laughed at this a little; surely the Fiolario family must have had the tiniest ounce of dignity. Why they would marry their eldest daughter off to a man who neither loved their daughter, nor had anything to offer, I'll be darned. And of course, Teodoro. Ah. He was probably the only character in the book I could imagine without giggling or wincing. Handsome, charming, polite...what a gentleman. So much of gentleman to Sophia actually, that within first meeting him, she declared to herself that she was in love with him. Chemistry? Nooo, who needs chemistry when you have love at first sight (even though you're already engaged)? Morin clearly attempted to weave an intricate plot with complicated details, but for some reason, the two didn't mix. The Secret of the Glass made out for a really, really interesting textbook. I could have written my essay on Roman Studies with just this book, in the 10th grade. But as a novel, it was weak and had difficulty capturing my attention. I understand that this book was written because of an initial passion Donna Russo Morin held for Italian glassworks...a little too big of a passion, perhaps? I mean, the first paragraph of the book is an epic simile where glassblowing is compared to the reaching of an orgasm. I thought I was a fan of the hot and sweaty stuff until I read those few lines. Most histori
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Mirella More than 1 year ago
For centuries, the talented Murano glassmakers of Venice have been distinguished and honoured. Their secrets to glassmaking closely guarded, their prized products highly sought after. Now, author Donna Russo Morin, has penned a novel that sweeps the reader into the 17th century world and lives of these secretive, revered artisans. The Venetian government highly protects its glassmakers, their factories, and their families, for this is what brings wealth and fame to La Serenissima. Venetian law forces them to live on the island of Murano, their movements closely guarded. When three glassmakers secretly try to flee their restrictive life, they are found murdered. No one can escape these restrictions. Sophia Fiolario is the eldest daughter of a wealthy glassmaker who has no sons to inherit his highly successful factory. Sophia has a special bond with her father and is passionate about the art of glassmaking. But women are prohibited from learning the mysteries of this highly classified art. It is considered a crime and the penalties are severe and destructive. It can ruin their family and the carefully cultivated reputation of their factory. Sophia has learned the art covertly from her father, the truth of which they must keep highly guarded, even from their own family. A marriage is arranged between Sophia and an elder impoverished nobleman who will inherit the glass factory upon Sophia's father's death. The family cannot refuse even though the nobleman is cruel and uncaring. Sophia knows it will mean an end to the idyllic life she knows and the end to her furtive glassmaking ventures. While in the throes of the loveless betrothal, Sophia encounters one man who opens her heart and holds the key to her future happiness. Donna Russo Morin has written a majestic novel, breathtaking in its prose, and sweeping in its scope, about 17th century Venice at the height of its glory. What left me most in awe about this novel, was the highly detailed descriptions of the scenery, streets, architecture and famous people like Galileo himself. It literally transports you to Venice with all its beautiful sights. The characters had depth and realism with scores of emotions. I literally fell into the story as if I lived and breathed the same air as Sophia and her family and friends. From its festivals and government, life in Venice is masterfully rendered. Ms. Morin is a master storyteller and this is one of best written novels of Venice I have ever read. For lovers of Venetian history, or aficionados of the 17th century, this is one novel worth reading. But you'll have to wait a little. The novel is scheduled for release early in 2010.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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harstan More than 1 year ago
In Venice the renowned Murano glassmakers feel the pressure of laws that insist they must remain inside the city and limit females. Zeno Fiolario is one of the best artisans, but his equally talented oldest daughter Sophia must hide her skill serendipitously taught to her by her father or both will be severely punished. When Zeno becomes ill, Sophia as the oldest of his daughters accepts marriage to middle-aged Pasquale da Fuligna, who covets owning the Fiolarios' glass factory. Pasquale brings his fiancée to the Doge's palace, where she meets Galileo. The scientist, in trouble with the Church, commissions her in secret to construct a secret lens for him. Encouraged by her beloved impoverished courier, she creates a glass device to enable long distance sight. However, her association with Galileo places her and her family and beloved in trouble with the papacy. This is a superb historical fiction tale that brings to life the age of Galileo in Venice through the eyes of an illegal Murano glassmaker. Ironically, like Galileo who is in heretic trouble with the Church; Sophia violates the gender restriction law. She learns skill is irrelevant. Readers will relish this strong seventeenth century story as The Secret of the Glass is due to the maker. Harriet Klausner