Sisters of Glass
I confess to being captured by the cover of this one. Well, the cover and the fact it is about a family of Venetian glassblowers. (I love Venetian glass, and stories of Italy in general in general, but especially glassblowing - ever since I took a glassblowing workshop a few summers ago. Fell. In. Love! I digress...) What I didn't realize when I requested the book on NetGalley was that it's a novel in verse -- talk about a happy surprise.
The story is simple: Maria, the youngest daughter, has been selected to marry into the nobility instead of her older (and the expected and socially accepted choice) sister Giovanna. Maria's love is the fornica, she loves the entire process of her family's glassblowing business and takes great pride in mixing the recipes to perfection. Giovanna on the other hand is perfectly suited to life among the nobility, and finds it very difficult to adjust to her sister taking her place. The family dynamics and sisterly love-and-tension are beautifully depicted, and it's easy to get a sense of the state of things. And then, the family hires a new glassblower to assist them in the fornicas. Luca is rough and sometimes rude, an orphan with no idea of his family, and incredibly gifted. Without realizing it, Maria falls for him -- just as her family arranges for a nobleman to marry her. What happens next is a testament to the bond of sisterhood, and proof that "love conquers all."
A note about the format of the book: the verses are not very structured. It actually took me a bit to realize that it was actually written in verse, as opposed to strange formatting on my Kindle. They're free verse, which I pretty much expect of a verse novel, but a bit prose-y at times. Some of them are fractured, or seem random out-of-the-sky, but it does work within the larger context of the novel. It helps build a contextual depth that would be missing otherwise: glimpses and tidbits of the family dynamics and Maria's personal struggles to balance who she really is with who her family expects her to be. It won't work for everyone, but it is a sweet story. And now I really want to be back at a fornica myself ...
eARC provided by publisher for review.