Saturday, June 27, 2009

Review: The Rossetti Letter by Christi Phillips

Book Info:
The Rossetti Letter by Christi Phillips
Paperback: 480 pages
Publisher: Pocket (February 19, 2008)
ISBN-13: 9781416527381
Genre: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5

Claire Donovan always dreamed of visiting Venice, though not as a chaperone for a surly teenager. But she can't pass up this chance to complete her Ph.D. thesis on Alessandra Rossetti, a mysterious courtesan who wrote a secret letter to the Venetian Council warning of a Spanish plot to overthrow the Venetian Republic in 1618. Claire views Alessandra as a heroine and harbors a secret hope that her findings will elevate Alessandra to a more prominent place in history. But an arrogant Cambridge professor is set to present a paper at a prestigious Venetian university denouncing Alessandra as a co-conspirator -- a move that could destroy Claire's paper and career.

As Claire races to locate the documents that will reveal the courtesan's true motives, Alessandra's story comes to life with all the sensuality, political treachery, and violence of seventeenth-century Venice. Claire also falls under the city's spell. She is courted by a handsome Italian, matches wits with her academic adversary, bonds with her troubled young charge, and, amid the boundless beauty of Venice, recaptures the joy of living every moment....

I've always enjoyed historical fiction, but up until this year I've never really made the time to read it. With some of the challenges I'm doing this year I've made the time and have discovered some great books, and The Rossetti Letter is one of them.

I actually started this book before my vacation, got about halfway through, and then left it behind as it was a hardback and I prefer to travel with paperbacks. I wish I had made an exception and taken it with me though. I couldn't wait to see how it ended and missed the story the entire time I was gone.

Claire Donovan is a wonderful character. She is honest, hardworking, smart, but still completely believable. Things don't always go like she planned. Sometimes she puts her foot in her mouth and embarrasses herself. This lack of pretension really endeared her to me.

I also love historical fiction that alternates from the past to present and The Rossetti Letter was no exception. Usually, though, I have a favorite time period and this time I couldn't decide between the past or present. Each time the perspective would change I would think it was my favorite. Then it would change back and I would change my mind again.

The Rossetti Letter pulled me in right from the beginning and I loved it all the way through. I've already started The Devlin Diary and can't wait for more Claire Donovan. 4.5 stars


Literary Feline said...

This does sound good! I really like historical fiction too; and, like you, tend to not make as much time to read it as I do other types of books. I'll have to add this one to my wish list. Thanks for the great review!

Tina said...

I'm almost finished my 999 challenge, and decided to do a 2nd one. I have a category for historical fiction, and this author sounds like one I want to check out. Thanks for such a good review. Tututhefirst on LT.

Cindy said...

Sounds like a good book :)

teabird said...

I'm also fond of fiction that goes back and forth between present and past - like People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks -
Your review makes this book sound irresistible!

Harvee said...

I plan to read this book; have read good things about it. Hope you stop by for an interview with the author Christi Phillips.

Teddy Rose said...

Wonderful review. This book is on my TBR.

Anonymous said...

Great review! This looks like an interesting read, and I'm always looking for more historical fiction suggestions! :)

Zibilee said...

This one sounds great! I haven't read much about Venice during that time, but I have a feeling that there is a lot of period detail in this book, which is one of the main reasons I love historical fiction. And onto the wish list it goes!