Bianca

Bertrice Small. NAL, $16 trade paper (432p) ISBN 978-0-451-23795-8
Renaissance Florence and Ottoman Turkey collide in the overwrought first Silk Merchant’s Daughters historical. Bianca Maria Rose Pietro d’Angelo, the 15-year old jewel of Florentine society, is bewildered when her father marries her to Sebastiano Rovere, a prominent lawyer two decades her senior, to save the family’s reputation. Sebastiano rapes Bianca on her wedding night and displays other shocking depravities. She eventually escapes, staying hidden while demanding an annulment and becomes friends with Amir ibn Jem, an antiques merchant and the grandson of the Ottoman sultan. After Sebastiano’s death, Bianca and Amir want to marry, but the Pietro d’Angelos can’t accept a Christian woman marrying a “heathen” and separate them. The lovers run away to Constantinople, where Bianca adjusts (with superhuman speed) to harem life and Turkish politics. Exquisite historical detail brings every moment vividly to life. Small describes violence as intimately as passion, and readers may hurry past the scenes of brutality while lingering over Bianca and Amir’s tender love scenes. Agent: Ethan Ellenberg, the Ethan Ellenberg Agency. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/27/2012
Release date: 10/02/2012
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