Review: The Venetian Mask


Enduring friendships and long-held vendettas come alive against the splendor and decadence of eighteenth-century Venice.

In 1775 Venice–known to outsiders as “the brothel of Europe”–the tradition of mask-wearing has allowed adultery and debauchery to flourish. But Marietta and Elena, two dear friends at the Ospedale della PietĂ , a world-famous orphanage and music school for girls, know little of that milieu–until they come of age.

Elena is forced to wed the head of the Celano clan, a jealous, brutal man, while Marietta marries Domenico Torrisi, whose family vendetta with the Celanos is centuries old. Tradition dictates that the friends should never speak again, but their bond is too strong to break.

As the French Revolution unsettles all of Europe, Elena’s husband frames Domenico and he becomes a political prisoner. Marietta and Elena plot to save him, and the women discover that Venetian masks have noble purposes, too–but will their efforts put their own lives at risk?
My love affair with Rosalind Laker began after reading To Dance with Kings. What a wonderful novel! And while I liked The Venetian Mask, I do agree with other reviewers that her novels have a bit of a pattern to them. However we are also in agreement that it doesn't make the story less for it. The story starts off slow, but no worries, it does pick up.

Laker transports the readers to 18th century Venice; see the majestic palaces that rise from the water along the Grand Canal, experience the decadence and licentiousness of The Carnival, and feel surrounded by the music...ahh...the sweet music. The gondoliers with their booming voices, often accompanied by violins or flutes, the street bands that played in the squares and the angelic voices of the Pieta girls.

Bauta Masks

Obviously venetian masks feature heavily in the story; the making of them we see through the eyes of Marietta and the various misdeeds that can be done while hiding underneath were quite intriguing. All in all, The Venetian Mask is a good read.

Other reviews in blogland...

Booking Mama
The Literate Housewife Review
medieval bookworm
My Journey Through Reading
Devourer of Books
Historical Novel Review


  1. Although I didn't love this novel, I did fall in love with the setting she created. The masks, the intrigue, the singing... It just came alive. I also have The Golden Tulip. Have you read it? I bought it because it's set in the Netherlands, the land of my "people." I'm hoping that at the very least Laker will do for the Netherlands what she did for Venice.

  2. Where did you find this one? You always come up with the best books!

  3. I'm going to have to find this one...

    I left you something at my blog btw :-)

  4. I read this last spring and really enjoyed it! My review is up on my blog somewhere.

  5. I actually have this on my wish list. I can't remember where I saw it the first time, but it caught my interest. I have so many books on my wish list, though, it might be quite some time before I get around to reading it!

  6. LH: I added Venice to my top list of places to visit based solely on this book!

    Michele: I can't remember where I found To Dance With Kings, but once I read that I had to own everything the woman wrote.

    Ana T: Wow! Thank you so much!

    Katherine: I'll find it and add to the post...thanks for letting me know.

    Kailana: can't wait to see what you think when you do get to it and I know exactly what you mean.


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