A tale of lust, greed, and danger set in seventeenth-century Venice, The Pindar Diamond is a gripping and superbly told historical novel.
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.
"Worsley, who as chief curator for a number of England's historic royal palaces appears to be something of a court groupie, writes breezy, chatty prose.... The Courtiers is amusing and, among other things, a useful reminder that, contrary to what many believe, sex was not invented in the 1960s.... The accounts Worsley gives of lords and ladies willingly sacrificing what dignity remained to them as they tried to wiggle their way upward on the court's greased pole is not pretty, though on the other hand not really any uglier than what goes on every day in the year 2010 in the salons of Imperial Washington."--Jonathan Yardley, The Washington Post. Read full review.
"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 ranging from 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 Reviews
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July 31, 2010
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