Elle Newmark captivated me from the beginning. I'm partial to food (I love books about food – I would have liked step-by-step recipes for some of the dishes) and to Venice (Ah, Venice, you captured my soul when I first saw you) and the search for treasure, so the combination of those three left me panting and yearning for more. I will say I'm frequently dismayed by authors who spoil the surprise with teasers about what's to come, but I didn't mind that here. Since the story is the main character’s (Luciano) remembrance of the past, those teasers fit right in. And as the story continued to unfold, I was drawn into the squalid life of the poor juxtaposed with the opulent life of the palatial rich. The Venice that I saw some years ago is not the Venice of the 15th century. Time has eroded what used to be and the palace halls are not filled with courtesans or majordomos. But had I read Ms. Newmark’s book before I visited Venice, I would have easily filled in the blanks with images from her story and made my tour of Venice all the richer.
Aside from the author's vivid characters and lush scenery and a beautifully moving plot, what fascinated me the most were the sprinklings of spirituality, the gentle proddings of the chef to Luciano to aspire to be more. Were I at a much younger age, I doubt those sprinklings would have made an impact. But as I search for my own higher levels of understanding, I appreciated and respected those concepts tremendously.
Read, and enjoy, and let your heart and mind expand. This is certainly worth your time.