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The Madman of Venice Hardcover – Deckle Edge, August 10, 2010


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Hardcover, Deckle Edge, August 10, 2010
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 740L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers; 1 edition (August 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385738439
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385738439
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,905,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 6-9–An exotic setting and delicious intrigue combine to make intense historical fiction in this tale of missing persons, murder, and, of course, romance. English merchant Master Ashby heads to Venice in 1602 to investigate the murder of his agent Salerio and the strange disappearance of a young Jewish girl accused of witchcraft by the cruel, conniving wife of the Count of Montemaro. Accompanied by his sister Bess; his daughter Celia; and Ned Fletcher, his clerk and orphaned charge, Ashby and his alchemist friend Dr. Leone soon find themselves entangled in a morass that involves Venetian pirates, mistaken identities, and the poisoning of the Count. At the same time, Ned and Celia discover not only the truth behind the sinister events, but also their love for one another. Cleverly plotted, the novel is filled with accurate historical details of both the cultural and legalistic aspects of 17th-century Venetian life. Seemingly disconnected developments eventually meld into a reasonable whole, although some parts lean a bit heavily toward contrivance. Celia and Ned are well-developed as characters–she the feisty, adventure-loving beauty and he the loyal-to-the-core romantic. Short declarative sentences advance the plot, and sophisticated and sometimes-obscure vocabulary permeates the prose. There are a few too-contemporary expressions, which mar the flow of the text. In addition, the scene in which Ned finally confesses his affection for Celia seems overly gushy and not in keeping with his earlier reserve. Still, the story is engaging and will appeal to readers who might be too young for Donna Jo Napoli's Daughter of Venice (Random, 2002).Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, The Naples Players, FL
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Inspired by both The Merchant of Venice and Romeo and Juliet, Australian author Masson offers an intricate historical mystery. In 1602 London, Ned, a young clerk, is thrilled when his employer, Master Ashby, decides to take his daughter, Celia, and Ned with him to Venice, where he seeks information about a piracy ring that has hobbled his business. The trip’s mission expands after Ashby is asked to investigate the disappearance of a friend’s daughter, and once in Venice, Celia (an almost stereotypically plucky heroine) endeavors to find the missing girl, a search that unwittingly leads her, Ned, and an assorted cast of brave young people into a web of intrigue spun by a murderous countess. Numerous contrivances link the tangled story line all the way to an overcrowded ending, and purposeful passages of dialogue that fill in plot clues and characters’ motivations may slow some readers. Still, the vivid setting includes rare views of life for Venetian Jews, and tense action scenes and several blossoming romances, including Ned and Celia’s, will help keep readers engaged. Grades 7-10. --Gillian Engberg

Customer Reviews

I must admit I'm a sucker for historical fiction.
Whatcha Reading Now?
Why spend half the book making a big deal of the fact that the guy is too shy to declare himself and then blow all the dramatic possibility of that like this?
Miz Ellen
It's very natural sounding, and this helped the flow of the story.
Ellen W.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Miz Ellen VINE VOICE on September 16, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I wanted to like this well-meaning YA novel, but whenever the author had successfully engaged my interest she would cut to another scene and proceed to tell her story in the most uninteresting way possible rather than to show us her characters in action.

My other complaint is that despite the historical setting there was little effort to make the characters congruent with the time. In that era, teenagers were regarded as adults, rather than children.

My breaking point came at the middle of the book. Rather than allow the girl character to discover that the boy/young man loves her, the author has a minor character tell the girl all about it. Why spend half the book making a big deal of the fact that the guy is too shy to declare himself and then blow all the dramatic possibility of that like this?

And could it be that continually asking questions might not be the best way to create dramatic tension in the reader? Why not allow your heroine to ask dozens of them before breakfast and engage in hokey theorizing about the investigation without a shred of evidence? Could it be some readers will actually stand for this? Should I?

This book features well-meaning characters and a plot about pirates, abductions and the Jewish community in Venice. It's kinda sorta okay. I'm not a big fan of "okay" in literature for young people. Seems to me they deserve only the best.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Betty K VINE VOICE on October 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Set in the early 17th century, this young adult novel is the story of Ned Fletcher, an orphan taken in by a wealthy English merchant as a clerk and bookkeeper. In love with his patron's daughter, Celia, Ned is a dreamer who loves to write plays and poetry. He's managed to see several of Shakespeare's plays at the Globe Theatre and is therefore delighted when his benefactor decides to include both Celia and himself on a trip to Venice to investigate a couple of mysteries. The novel is inspired by two of Shakespeare's plays and may very well act as an introduction to the bard's writings to the target group.

I think if I were a girl of 12 or 13, I would love this book. It has romance, mystery, travel and adventure. The arc of the plot is cleverly carried through to the end and the settings are very well done. I've visited Venice and the descriptions of both exteriors and interiors of the fabled architecture of that city are well portrayed. So are the wonders of gliding through the canals. As well there are the subtle lessons of tolerance versus "man's inhumanity to man." So for the early teenager, the book is both entertaining and educational.

For the older, more sophisticated teenager or the adult reader, not so much. A more critical, advanced reader would definitely pick up on a few problems. For example there are many anachronisms such as "she's a piece of work," "small time crook," and "dead in the water." Also both the narration and dialogue are often overly simplistic and sound almost childish. And yet, I found myself eager to finish the book to see where it goes. So perhaps these things are deliberate by the author because she knows the genre and I really don't.

Based on these thoughts and a readership of ages 11 to 15, I am going to give it a good rating.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Grandma Books VINE VOICE on August 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
You don't have to know Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice to follow this story, but it does add a deeper layer to the story ( as does knowing Shakespeare's Twelfth Night).

It is a fun, light tale of true love, jealousy, plots, intrigue, revenge, and discovery, set in Venice in the Elizabethan era. It's heavy on the fiction part of the historical fiction, but no less enjoyable if you remember not to take it too seriously.

A merchant of England and his household, including his daughter and his apprentice, go to Venice to seek to discover why so many of his (and his partners) ships are being captured by pirates, and also to see if he can uncover what has happened the daughter of a Jewish doctor, who has a friend who is a musician in the Queen's court and has sought the Merchant's help.

The young apprentice loves his master's daughter, but is too bashful to say so and fears he will not be seen as good enough for her father.The girl is a headstrong young miss, rather slow to notice his devotion.

The young pair decided to work together to find the doctor's missing daughter, secretly visiting the Jewish quarters to look for information and bringing themselves into danger of discovery- or worse, for the Jewish familiy they seek to help.

There are other characters- an alchemist, a soldier or two, a madman, a duchess, and a few unsavory souls just to name a few.

Good, lighthearted escape fiction with a seasoning of history.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Aviva and Avi Rosenberg on August 31, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I was not at all impressed. Weak, contrived storyline, overdone dialogue, wooden and predictable characters. The mystery was melodramatic and shallow. Honestly, this book was just stupid, and I don't say that lightly. There are much better historical mysteries, and much better novels set in Venice, if that's what you're looking for. DOn't bother with this one.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I was led to believe from what I'd read about this book that it took Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice and wove another story into and around it, which sounded interesting. I've read several books recently that do that trick, or that take two disparate characters or sets of characters and blend them into a new tale. However, that's not exactly what we have here. This is a rather convoluted story of a young English couple, sparring partners from childhood, who travel to Venice with the girl's father and aunt to check up on piracy in the Mediterranean. The Englishman is traveling on behalf of others who need to find out what's going on. But there's another plot about the daughter of a Jewish alchemist who may or may not have been kidnapped. And there are other ingredients floating around in this stew, as well, including an ex-soldier who slips in and out of madness (hence the title, I would assume, though he's a decidedly minor character), and a Count who is beaten down into submission by his harridan of a wife, who wants to get rid of the daughter of the alchemist, etc. It's all somewhat hard to follow. In fact, I believe I've already forgotten much of what I just finished reading. This does not make it a bad book. This just makes it a book I'm somewhat sorry I devoted so much reading time to. I will say this in its favor: the author doesn't attempt to replicate the spoken language of the place and time. Pretty much all of the book takes place in Italy, but the author refrains from peppering the text with Italian words -- unlike a recent book I reviewed that takes place largely in Cuba and in which the author feels it necessary to throw the occasional Spanish word into an English conversation that would in fact be entirely in Spanish if this were to be accurate.Read more ›
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More About the Author

Born in Indonesia of French parents, Sophie Masson was sent to live with her paternal grandmother in Toulouse, France, when she was just a baby and lived there till she was nearly five, when her parents came back from Indonesia and took her to Australia. All the rest of her childhood, the family stayed in Australia, with frequent trips back to France, and this dual heritage underpins a good deal of Sophie's work.
Sophie's first book appeared in 1990 and since then she has published more than sixty novels, mainly for children and young adults, but with several for adults as well. her books have been published in Australia, the USA, UK, France, Germany, Italy, and many other countries. She has also had many short stories and articles published in newspapers, magazines, and online journals. She is a regular contributor to the writing blog Writer Unboxed(www.writerunboxed.com)
Sophie Masson lives in the high, cool New England tableland area of Northern New South Wales, Australia, with her husband. She has three grown-up children and one little grandson. She holds a BA and M.Litt in French and English literature, and is on the Board of the Australian Society of Authors, the New England Writers' Centre, and the committee of the New England and North West sub-branch of the Children's Book Council of NSW.
Sophie's website is at www.sophiemasson.org
She has a writing blog at www.firebirdfeathers.com