Bianca: A Novel of Venice

Robert Elegant, Author
Robert Elegant, Author St. Martin's Press $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-312-26127-6
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-7493-1407-1
Open Ebook - 352 pages - 978-1-4668-6327-9
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Sweeping through Medici palaces in Florence and Capello palazzos in Venice, Elegant imagines the years between 1564 and 1587 in Italy as a vivid swirl of events surrounding Lady Bianca Capello, a Venetian noblewoman who as a teenager boldly refuses to be sold into marriage by her spendthrift merchant father. Lured by the sweet proposal of handsome Florentine Pietro Buonaventura, Bianca Capello agrees to elope. But she soon finds herself pregnant, outlawed in Venice for defying her father and stuck with a scamp of a husband who lied about his finances. The beautiful and strong-willed Bianca catches the eye of Francesco de'Medici, prince regent of Tuscany, with whom she shares a passionate, decades-long affair; her position as royal mistress is tolerated by the prince's wife and Pietro. Bianca's cousin Marco Capello, an upwardly mobile Venetian navy captain and agent in the Secret Service, remains the only Venetian she can trust, however. His plan to inch Bianca closer and closer to Francesco, thus making her diplomatically useful to her home city, works stupendously well. Complications of the plague leave Francesco without an heir, and his devious younger brother, Ferdinando, a rumormonger who hates Bianca, is itching to grab the throne by any means necessary. Although richly detailed in the names and places of the Italian Renaissance, the novel is patchily paced, with scenes of military action less lively than the emotional drama. The story races toward its denouement in a confusing bid to save Bianca and Francesco's newborn twins, but Elegant (Dynasty; Manchu) does pull the narrative full circle to the prologue, providing a suspenseful ending to the historical intrigue. (Aug.)
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