Sofia

Ann Chamberlin, Author
Ann Chamberlin, Author Forge $23.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-312-86110-0
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
Mass Market Paperbound - 368 pages - 978-0-8125-5386-4
Paperback - 372 pages - 978-0-595-30278-9
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Chamberlin's latest novel (after Tamar) blends absorbing historical detail with a lively, romantic plot about two Italian teenagers sold into slavery in the Ottoman Empire. In 1562, Giorgio Veniero, a 15-year-old orphaned sailor who narrates two thirds of the novel (the middle section is written in the third-person), sneaks inside a Venice convent to deliver a message from the Doge of Venice to Sofia Baffo, the feisty 14-year-old daughter of the governor of remote Corfu: she must go to Corfu and wed the man chosen by her father or the Doge will ""turn you over his knee and thrash you as he would his own daughter."" Infatuated with this beautiful yet calculating girl, Giorgio thwarts Sofia's elopement with a young nobleman and soon sails for Corfu with Sofia as a passenger. The ship is eventually overtaken by a band of Turks, and Giorgio willingly accompanies Sofia to Constantinople, where they are sold as slaves. Now a member of the Sultan's harem, Sofia learns that she has been chosen to divert the Sultan's heir from his opium habit. Giorgio and Sofia reunite in a rousing, bittersweet climax, but it's the fascinating descriptions of Islamic culture, including Giorgio's painful transformation into a slave, that make this story compelling. (Apr.)
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