Luca Vianello's life has been set for him; as the eldest son of one of Venice's top gondola makers, he is destined to one day take his father's place. His father has also arranged a beneficial marriage for him. Luca is not sure that this is his destiny at all and when his mother dies in childbirth, Luca decides to tell his father exactly how he feels. While arguing with his father, the entire boathouse, and Luca's unwanted inheritance, goes up in flames. Luca flees, and creates a new life for himself while trying to find his own destiny. By way of fate, Luca finds a job as a gondoliere with a portrait painter who happens to have a dilapidated gondola made by his grandfather in his boathouse. Luca decides to restore the gondola and becomes enamored with a beautiful woman who is having her portrait painted.
Despite not having much action, The Gondola Maker draws you into 16th century Venice and makes you feel as if you are being rowed down the canals yourself. Much of this book is description of gondolas and the process by which they are made. There are also vivid descriptions of magnificent homes, luxurious costumes and grand parties that Luca encounters. I applaud the amount of research that went into this book. Luca's character is hard for me to describe. While this story is about him finding his destiny, I did not feel like I knew many of his motives surrounding women and would like to know what happened with his love interest. However, this is not really the bulk of the story and still ends well.
This book was provided as an Advanced Reading Copy for free in exchange for an honest review.