Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Orphan of Florence by Jeanne Kalogridis


In this irresistible historical novel set in the turbulent world of the Medicis, a young woman finds herself driven from pick-pocketing to espionage when she meets a mysterious man.
Giulia has been an orphan all her life. Raised in Florence's famous Ospedale degli Innocenti, her probing questions and insubordinate behavior made her an unwelcome presence, and at the age of fifteen, she was given an awful choice: become a nun, or be married off to a man she didn't love. She chose neither, and after refusing an elderly suitor, Giulia escaped onto the streets of Florence.
Now, after spending two years as a successful pickpocket, an old man catches her about to make off with his purse, and rather than having her carted off to prison he offers her a business proposition. The man claims to be a cabalist, a student of Jewish mysticism and ritual magic, who works for the most powerful families in Florence. But his identity is secret—he is known only as "the Magician of Florence"—and he is in need of an assistant. She accepts the job and begins smuggling his talismans throughout the city.
But the talismans are not what they seem, and neither is the Magician. When Giulia's involvement with him ends with his murder, she's drawn into a treacherous web of espionage and deceit involving the forces of Rome, Naples, and a man known as Lorenzo the Magnificent. Accused of the Magician's murder, Giulia is pursued by the handsome policeman Niccolo, Lorenzo's henchmen, and foreign spies, and in order to survive, she must not only solve the mystery of the mystery of the Magician's murder, but that of her own past.

REVIEW

Giuliana is a 15 year old orphan living off the streets of Florence after being released from an orphanage. She takes responsibility for another young orphan named Tommasso who is 6 years old. As a pickpocket, it was safer for her to dress as a boy, hence she called herself Giuliano. One night, she picks the pocket of an old man who turns out to be the Magician of Florence. Instead of turning her in, he takes her into his fold, promising to teach her the secrets of Magic. It is there she meets Niccolo who was also raised by the Magician. It is then she is thrust into a world of intrigue, murder, dark secrets, and treachery at its worst.

Jeanne Kalogridis has once again spun an enthralling tale filled with enthralling characters who are unpredictable and ever evolving. Some are lovable and some are despicable. With detailed descriptions of city of Florence, its culture and politics, and the colourful dress of its inhabitants, an authentic, genuine setting was brought to life. The story moves along at a fast pace with plenty of twists and turns along the way. Expect the unexpected! Beautifully told, wonderfully creative, this is another lovely novel by one of my favourite authors of all time. Highly, highly recommended.