Read The Venetian Mask by Rosalind Laker Online


Enduring friendships and long-held vendettas come alive against the splendor and decadence of eighteenth-century Venice.In 1775 Venice–known to outsiders as “the brothel of Europe”–the tradition of mask-wearing has allowed adultery and debauchery to flourish. But Marietta and Elena, two dear friends at the Ospedale della Pietà, a world-famous orphanage and music school forEnduring friendships and long-held vendettas come alive against the splendor and decadence of eighteenth-century Venice.In 1775 Venice–known to outsiders as “the brothel of Europe”–the tradition of mask-wearing has allowed adultery and debauchery to flourish. But Marietta and Elena, two dear friends at the Ospedale della Pietà, a world-famous orphanage and music school for girls, know little of that milieu–until they come of age. Elena is forced to wed the head of the Celano clan, a jealous, brutal man, while Marietta marries Domenico Torrisi, whose family vendetta with the Celanos is centuries old. Tradition dictates that the friends should never speak again, but their bond is too strong to break. As the French Revolution unsettles all of Europe, Elena’s husband frames Domenico and he becomes a political prisoner. Marietta and Elena plot to save him, and the women discover that Venetian masks have noble purposes, too–but will their efforts put their own lives at risk?Embodying the glitter and the treachery of the city it portrays, The Venetian Mask will keep you turning pages long into the night....

Title : The Venetian Mask
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780307352569
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 464 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Venetian Mask Reviews

  • Amy Bruno
    2019-03-16 22:06

    My love affair with Rosalind Laker began after reading To Dance with Kings. What a wonderful novel! And while I liked The Venetian Mask, I do agree with other reviewers that her novels have a bit of a pattern to them. However we are also in agreement that it doesn't make the story less for it. The story starts off slow, but no worries, it does pick up.Laker transports the readers to 18th century Venice; see the majestic palaces that rise from the water along the Grand Canal, experience the decadence and licentiousness of The Carnival, and feel surrounded by the music...ahh...the sweet music. The gondoliers with their booming voices, often accompanied by violins or flutes, the street bands that played in the squares and the angelic voices of the Pieta girls. Obviously venetian masks feature heavily in the story; the making of them we see through the eyes of Marietta and the various misdeeds that can be done while hiding underneath were quite intriguing. All in all, The Venetian Mask is a good read.

  • Fran
    2019-02-24 21:55

    Great book about life in Venice cerca 1700. Teh book concentrates on two girls raised in an orphanage and schooled in music. They grow and marry two opposing families. The story is chock full of adventure and thick plots. Very good read especially if you enjoy descriptions of Venice the way it use to be.Merged review:I love reading historical fiction and since this is a far cry from that it does show you Venice in the late 1700s taking many liberties....the Pieta...does exist...or at least did as it was portrayed in the book. It is a very romantic historical account about a girl who was brought to an orphanage in Venice when her mask-making mother took ill and died. Marietta met and befriended Eleana in the orphanage and the two of them ended up marrying the "Hatfield adn MacCoys". The story takes you through Marietta's life in the orphanage to become a prima donna singer and then into her marriage into nobility in the Venice of the 1700s...very good book and it kept my interest even through the romantic nonsense entwined with the historic viewpoints of that era...

  • Rusty
    2019-03-16 00:50

    This is a wonderful read about two friends in 1775 Venice. Both are singers who must marry wealthy men. Remember that women have few rights and privileges in this era. However, the men the friends marry are vicious enemies. For Elena whose love dies from illness just prior to their marriage, marriage to his brother, Filippo, is a nightmare. He is cruel, abusive and jealous. For Marietta who loses her first love to another through deceit, her marriage to Domenico Torrisi is all she could ever hope to have. The two friends find it difficult to keep in touch because of the feuding of their husbands' families yet the friendship perseveres. Life for both becomes very complicated as the tale moves on. I truly enjoyed this book.

  • Tahsina Syeda
    2019-02-26 16:49

    Read this novel in a Reader's Digest Condensed collection when I was a kid, and it left a lasting impression. A Gothic novel set in the glittering, glamorous, ugly world of Venice.

  • Kelly
    2019-03-20 21:55

    The Venetian Mask by Rosalind Laker is a dramatic and romantic novel about two orphaned girls, who reside in the famous Ospedale Della Pieta. The Pieta is renowned for its beautiful and innocent girls, who are presented to society through their music and artistic talents. Marietta and Elena, as they reach adulthood, each engage in personal and often devastating pursuits for love, all the while maintaining that cherished and long-lasting friendship that they have created.Like many other romance novels, I am left feeling utterly confused by this book. I both love and hate it. I love the sweeping romances, the implausible plot-lines and the daring schemes which occur. However, I did not enjoy the writing, nor did I find the characters particularly believable. Rosalind tends to narrate the book in the viewpoint of whomever is most important to the plot. However, as these perspectives are not segmented into chapters, there is often a quick and random switch to other characters, which can not only get incredibly confusing but also annoying. By knowing other characters thoughts, an element of mystery is also lost, as key moments are divulged to the reader without a focus on suspense. The characters also could have been written with more flaws. Although that may sound bitter, especially as all females are explained as being impossibly beautiful, there is something to be said about being normal. However, all four of the main characters are popular for their beauty or their hair or some other characteristic which has men dying over them. With the knowledge that they are beautiful, it's difficult to see any real personal development occur about their bodies, as everything is always connected to a lover's opinion on beauty or a tragedy of sickness. As these are young girls, it was strikingly odd to read about characters who felt absolutely convinced that they were beautiful.I also thought that her portrayal of them was really strange. Rosalind definitely tries to make them seem quite individual, feminist and strong willed. However, a lot of what happens and the way that they interact with others around them does not seem to encourage this view point. The women's dependency on male attention is incredibly evident, especially as their inability to refuse attention from higher classed men often leads them into horrifying situations. While I understand that they are repressed and such, being women in that time period, their endless pursuit for love and attention by men makes them seem almost needy and desperate. The plot-lines were also very familiar territory and I did not really feel that the authoress took a chance with her story. It was very much the unhappy wife, the barren woman, the disappointed lover or the pinning young gentlemen. While she pulled these stories off quite well, it would have been interesting to have included the rawer side of Venice, as in the prostitutes, smugglers and thieves. By focusing so intently on the nobility, it was almost a disconnect from the fact that there were other sides to the floating city. While she made it very clear that the nobility were heavily flawed, she did not venture past that class and into the poorer regions, which would have been really interesting. However, as a lover of Venice who had just returned from the city, I was really drawn into the book by the authoress's ability to create atmosphere or really enrich the scene with her explanations of scenery. She quite romantically builds a scene of the city. Although I really enjoyed her explanations of the city and the plot-lines that, although predictable, were entertaining, I don't think I can give this book any higher then a two star rating. As the rating states, 'it was okay,' but I can definitely see the flaws in it.

  • Liz
    2019-02-27 22:42

    Set in 18th-century Venice, this novel is about three orphaned girls who grow up together at a special charity music school called the Ospedale della Pieta. They are all brilliant musicians, but instead of pursuing their careers they decide to try their chances at love and making babies. In the process many Tragic and Dramatic Things happen (including, but not limited to: blood feuds, sudden and inexplicable deaths, false imprisonments, treachery and treason, pregnancy cover-ups and dungeons) and they must rely on their bond with each other to carry on.This book had just about every over-used melodramatic trope it possibly could have had. You could see the "plot twists" coming from a mile away, and the characters left a lot to be desired. The good ones were all strong, gorgeous/handsome and could do no wrong, and the bad ones were all bad just for the sake of...being bad. The three women were very much put upon merely because they were women, and I think the author was trying to make a point about the unfairness of society at that time (which is a valid point), but it got old. There was sex scene fail here, too. I believe at one point there may have been reference made to a "golden stallion", but I have blocked it from my mind.In other words it was pretty much a typical romance novel. It was very sappy.At the same time, I kept reading it, although I can't exactly say why. It was an entertaining kind of bad. And the setting was interesting. I think if the characters had been more complex, the overall tone of the book had been less saccharine, and the author had actually thrown in something unpredictable every now and then it could actually have been pretty good.

  • Tamara
    2019-03-03 16:58

    The plot described in the jacket copy of this novel doesn't even come into play until past the half-way point. I felt that it was much more "romance" than historical fiction, so I felt I had been misled. I was disappointed and felt that it was simplistic.

  • Emma
    2019-02-25 22:44

    This novel takes place in Venice, Italy during the late 1700s. Venice, known to outsiders as "the brothel of Europe" due to its excess in hedonism and debauchery, is also known for its many festivals including the infamous Carnival with its merry-making and masks and elaborate costumes. Marietta is only twelve years old when her mother died of illness and is left at the Ospedale della Pieta as an orphan. The orphanage is only for orphan young girls to be trained in singing and music. She befriends another orphan her same age, Elena. They go through the ups and downs of first love together that ends tragically for both. Elena is forced to see the head of the Delano clan, a jealous, brutal man, while Marietta marries Domenici Torrisi, whose family vendetta is centuries old. Tradition dictates that the friends should never speak again, but their bond is too strong to break. As the French Revolution unsettled all of Europe, Elena's husband frames Domenico and he becomes a political prisoner. Marietta and Elena plot to save him, and the women discover that Venetian masks have noble purposes, too - but will their efforts out their own lives at risk? Embodying the glitter and the treachery of the city it portrays, this novel will keep you turning pages long into the night.

  • Kathleen DuVall
    2019-03-11 00:54

    I'm not sure why I kept passing this on my reading list at the library but I did for several months. Previously having read and enjoyed The Golden Tulip it just didn't make sense. Maybe I just needed a break from historical fiction. Regardless, I finally cracked open the ebook and started and once I got into it, I realized I should never have passed it over. It was a wonderful story of intrigue, deceit, pain, love, longing and happy endings. It highlighted the strength of bonds formed through difficult times and the power of love to sustain. Interestingly, I also learned a lot about The Carnival of Venice and the practice of wearing different kinds of masks in normal society of the 1700's. In doing Google searches as I read about things in the book, I found some of the most beautiful masks and costumes that are still being made today. If ever I make it to Venice (still on my bucket list), I would love to see Carnival.

  • Thom Kay
    2019-03-07 23:55

    I have enjoyed the other books by Rosalind Laker and this one is no exception! Having visited Venice multiple times, I can easily picture the various places she describes throughout the story. She does a fantastic job developing the characters and weaving the plot but unlike some of her other books it is more focused on the fiction than on the history. All the same, the story draws you into the struggle between these characters as they grow up in the Pieta. I would heartily recommend this book for anyone that enjoys Italian travel or culture.

  • Marie Winger
    2019-03-14 18:02

    I thought this would be an historical novel but it is more of an historical romance. (I have to stop buying books from Book Bub.). I probably wouldn't have enjoyed it so much if I hadn't recently visited Venice and knew exactly where much of the action took place. Not a reader if romances I don't have much basis of comparison but it was engaging read. Well written, interesting characters, plot good enough to keep me going. It was a good travel book.

  • Cici Gordon
    2019-03-08 20:46

    Excellent book - great story, great glimpse into life in Venice at that time. Keeps you very engaged.

  • Nichola
    2019-02-24 00:42

    Mills & Boon meets a plot.

  • Clarissa Sadowsky
    2019-03-12 22:42

    Great story! Had a odd writing style, to me, where from paragraph to paragraph the author could change perspective view from characters. Enjoyed the culture of Venice, cir early 1800's.

  • Kim
    2019-03-07 17:39

    When you are spending 2 days in Venice it seems like a good idea to read historical fiction & this well-written gem was a delight. I found myself thinking of the locations described in the story ...

  • Chanelle
    2019-02-27 17:49

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and towards the mi.le, it was hard to put down.

  • Vaun Healey
    2019-02-26 20:56

    Behind the masks.Such a lovely story. I found it hard to put this book down. The characters are well developed. I enjoyed reading right to the end. Looking forward to more from this author.

  • Lucy Pollard-Gott
    2019-03-19 16:50

    Rosalind Laker is fast becoming one of my favorite historical fiction authors. I have also read her novel The House by the Fjord and I just started two others, To Dream of Snowand This Shining Land.The Venetian Mask tells the story of two friends, Marietta and Elena, who grow up together in the Ospedale de la Pieta, an orphanage and music school. Their romantic lives entangle them in feuding families. The story follows them over several decades as their personal trials and struggles intersect with the political life of Venice in the late 18th century through the arrival of Napoleon's forces during the Directory period in France.A unique feature of the book is the detailed information about the business of making ornate masks that truly concealed identities, not only at Carnival time, but all through the year. This practice of mask-wearing facilitated the intrigues that were already common to Venetian life, and Marietta, who came from a family of skilled mask-makers, is ideally suited to playing a pivotal role among the nobility and bureaucrats who wished to buy them and hide behind them.The prose is smoothly and skillfully written and the story is well-paced and suspenseful, with plenty of risk and danger. The two women's friendship is a constant emotional thread binding their disparate fates.

  • Conner Wolfe
    2019-03-14 20:54

    Finished the book yesterday but forgot to post my goodreads comment. I thought it was an average book.I would recommend this book for anyone who likes romantic novels. This book was mainly about two girls struggles in 18th century venice, italy, while the war was going on. The two main characters grow up together in an orphanage and both girls marry. But the two families they wed into are mortal enemies. throughout the book the girls make an effort to see each other. then later in the book one of the girls has an affair with a man from florence. the husband had no idea about the affair. then even later in the book, the other husband is framed and put in prison by the other girl's husband. then the two girls band together to rescue him out of prison. i cant say how because that would give away the ending. the culture is different from american culture because italian culture is mainly opera, architecture, and music and pasta as their signature dish. where as american culture is a mix of all cultures from all different backgrounds. i think the reason the author wrote this was to show the hardships of two women in 18th century italy and how they overcame that, even with a war going on. the theme of the text is that anyone can overcome hardships or trials even in the worst of times.

  • Sx
    2019-02-25 17:39

    This was a book where the blurb was more interesting than the content itself. The actual saving and plotting of Marietta's husband took up less than 10% of the entire content. Too many pages were devoted to describe the sweeping opulence and decadence of Venice in the 18th century shortly before its fall, that the characters failed to come alive completely. All of the women were selfless, perfect and courageous. Not one was flawed. Of the men, of course there were defects but very little else was said about them.Love was the central theme of the story, touching on the first flush of love, love lost and love found again. Yet the characters all fell so swiftly into the throes of love it was slightly bewildering for the reader to read. Almost all of them fell in love at first sight and the gradual love between Marietta and her husband wasn't expounded upon but just dropped into the story so suddenly I thought there had been missing pages.More of a historical romance than historical fiction, I'd recommend it to anyone with a love of masks, the richness of Venice in the 18th century and in love with love itself. Just don't expect any complicated plotting or intricate setting behind the lush descriptive.

  • Cassi
    2019-02-24 00:01

    I love historical fiction, and was interested to read it after just returning from a trip to Venice. While I think the story line - of young girls raised in the Ospedale as musicians - has been used a few too many times in recent fiction, I did think this story provided some interesting twists to the theme. I appreciated the attempt to introduce historical political struggles and the depths of rivalry between Venetian families. I also liked the author's lovely descriptions of La Serenissima, the history behind the masks - from the Bauta to the Columbina, etc. However, about halfway through the book, it became a bit boring to me. How long would it take to get the husband out of prison? How long before the two women could openly resume their friendship?In the end, it was very predictable and dragged on longer than I would have preferred ... but it did provide some lovely descriptive narrative of my favorite city in the world.

  • Karen
    2019-03-23 00:06

    Two orphaned girls are raised in a special place called the Pieta in Venice run by the church. This orphanage is known for its great choir and Marietta and Elena are both talented singers who enjoy performing at various events in Venice. These two girls form a life-long friendship at their time at the Pieta. The girls at the Pieta are protected from Venice society and are kept away from the seedier side of life in Venice in the 1770s which leaves the young women little prepared for life outside of the protection of the Pieta.The girls marry men who belong to two families with a centuries old history of feuding and hatred. How will they remain friends even though they are forbidden by their families to associate with one another?This is a well written book with good character development and a colorful historical background of Venice in the late 18th century.

  • Chiara Bizzotto
    2019-03-23 18:01

    Fino ad ora ho letto questo libro due volte perchè mi sono innamorata dei protagonisti, il fatto poi che tutto si svolgesse a Venezia ha reso il libro ancora più affascinante ai miei occhi.La maschera veneziana è la storia di due amiche cresciute all'Ospedale della pietà, una sorta di orfanotrofio e scuola di musica assieme, dopo diverse vicissitudini le due amiche si troveranno sposate con due potenti uomini della Repubblica Veneziana appartenenti a due fazioni opposte ma mentre Marietta troverà l'amore e il rispetto Elena si ritroverà sposata ad un uomo che non ama e che la tratta brutalmente tanto da rinchiuderla in casa.Sullo sfondo una Venezia che dall'era della repubblica passa sotto al dominio napoleonico.Assolutamente un romanzo da leggere.

  • Coleen
    2019-03-06 19:46

    10/23/08 - I quite enjoyed this book for the most part, although my biggest complaint would be that it could've been perhaps half the length that it was. Some readers might find it slow-moving, but I did enjoy the attention to Venetian detail and it was an enligtening read as far as masking and Carnival were concerned. I enjoyed the storyline; however, the flow seemed a little abrupt nearer the end. After a fairly slower-moving pace for the majority of the novel, the ending seemed rushed & wrapped up a bit too neatly. It was predictable, but not in a totally expected way. This may have appealed to more readers had the first three-fourths of the novel been condensed and the last fourth expanded.

  • Sarah
    2019-03-19 19:38

    A sweeping, magnificent story of two young women whose lives intertwine and diverge in endlessly intriguing ways. Laker's rich historical details and colorful descriptions bring this fascinating chapter of Venetian history to life while drawing us ever more deeply into the tangled lives of the two orphans who are the story's centerpiece.The story begins at the Pieta, the legendary home for foundling girls where Vivaldi taught music for most of his life. Although "The Venetian Mask" takes place some 30 years after the famous Red Priest's death, the lingering shadow of his music seems to penetrate the institution's very walls, lending an element of enchantment to this totally absorbing and delightful historical saga.

  • K
    2019-03-09 00:46

    ugh...chick lit disguised as historical fiction. i must confess, i could not finish this book. in fact, i couldn't get past the second chapter, which skips several years with no explanation. (ie the character is several years older and there's no development during that time). i think i might've enjoyed this book more when i was younger; its descriptions of eighteenth century venice were well done, and might've taught me something years ago, when i would've not have minded the insipid plot. the characters did not ring true, and were just too perfect, the type who always say and do the right thing at the right time...the author "told" me more than "showed" me!

  • Dr.J.G.
    2019-02-23 20:55

    Two friends who were resident pupils in a convent in Venice and had more spirit than could be tamed by the convent begin in this story by going to the festivities using masks, which everyone does of course, so they are not detected, and thus begins this story, a story of friendship of the two for life, while they find love and marriage - not necessarily always found together - and challenges in life that they face with courage and always manage to overcome with help of each other. Sounds glib, but the story is quite serious, and one gets very close to the characters, especially the two women, going through their travails with them as one reads this.

  • Katie
    2019-02-23 21:41

    I feel like I start every review of a book club book as "not a book I would normally read..." and that continues to be true for this book. The book is listed as fiction-historical. I guess that term can be used as loosely as one wants. I probably would have coined it more of a fiction-romance with a few historical events. Is that a genre? It's basically a story of two friends who marry enemies and how their relationship changes through the years. I found the writing a little weak, and the plot a little long, but it wasn't a bad read, but I wouldn't say it was a good read either. If you like stories with a lot of romance and long plots, I would highly recommend the Venetian Mask.

  • Peggy
    2019-03-22 23:54

    I read this just after high school. My parents love this author and many of her books have graced their bookshelves for as long as I can remember. I think this is the first of hers that I read. My mother is a history buff and therefore eschews any historical fiction without clearly impeccable research. Rosalind Laker's books land you right into the time, place and people of which she writes. She tends to focus on professions, in this case the mask maker's for carnival in Venice. I could not put this book down and read it in one night (finished at 3 AM). It is still my favorite Rosalind Laker.

  • Natalia Ch
    2019-02-24 21:07

    No spoilers. What a beautiful and magnificent story!! :-) And beautifully written. With enough detail to imagine yourself in Venice 18th century. I LOVED IT!! Random quote: "Cruelty thrives in Venice! When I was a boy I often saw condemned prisoners dying in cages suspended from the Campanile. The torture chambers are less busy than they were years ago, but they have not been closed up. At times, a criminal convicted of a violent crime is still slung up by his thumbs between those two deeper rose columns of the Doge's palace. Have you never heard their screams?"