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Daughter of Venice
Cover of Daughter of Venice
Daughter of Venice

In 1592, Donata is a noble girl living in a palazzo on the Grand Canal. Girls of her class receive no education and rarely leave the palazzo. In a noble family, only one daughter and one son will be allowed to marry; Donata, like all younger daughters, will be sent to a convent. Donata longs to be tutored like her brothers and to see the Venice she has glimpsed only on the map. What is the world beyond her balcony, beyond what she sees when she glides, veiled, in a gondola down the canal? She dresses as a boy and escapes the palazzo on the Grand Canal to see the world before she is shut away, and to try to find a way to escape her fate. Donata risks everything; she changes her life, and her family's life, forever when she walks through the door and encounters a Venice she never knew existed.

From the Hardcover edition.

In 1592, Donata is a noble girl living in a palazzo on the Grand Canal. Girls of her class receive no education and rarely leave the palazzo. In a noble family, only one daughter and one son will be allowed to marry; Donata, like all younger daughters, will be sent to a convent. Donata longs to be tutored like her brothers and to see the Venice she has glimpsed only on the map. What is the world beyond her balcony, beyond what she sees when she glides, veiled, in a gondola down the canal? She dresses as a boy and escapes the palazzo on the Grand Canal to see the world before she is shut away, and to try to find a way to escape her fate. Donata risks everything; she changes her life, and her family's life, forever when she walks through the door and encounters a Venice she never knew existed.

From the Hardcover edition.

Available formats-
  • OverDrive Read
  • EPUB eBook
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Copies-
  • Available:
    0
  • Library copies:
    1
Levels-
  • ATOS:
    4.9
  • Lexile:
    720
  • Interest Level:
    MG
  • Text Difficulty:
    3

Recommended for you

Excerpts-
  • Chapter One MORNING LIGHT

    A big fruit boat passes, rocking our gondola hard. Paolina tumbles against me with a laugh. I put my arm around her waist and hug her.

    Paolina squirms free. "It's too hot, Donata." She pulls on one of my ringlets and laughs again.

    Yes, it's hot, but it's a wonderful morning. The Canal Grande is busy. That's nothing new to us. From our bedchamber balcony my sisters and I watch the daily activity. Our palazzo stands on the Canal Grande and our rooms are three flights up, so we have a perfect view. But down here in the gondola, with the noise from the boats, and the smell of the sea, and the glare of the sun on the water, not even the thin gauze of my veil can mute the bold lines of this delightful chaos.

    Our Venice, called La Serenissima, "The Most Serene," is frenzied today.

    My feet start to tap in excitement, but, of course, they can't, because of my shoes. Whenever I go on an outing, I wear these shoes. They have wooden bottoms thicker than the width of my palm; I have to practice before venturing out, or I'll fall. And even then, I go at Uncle Umberto's pace--a blind man's pace. I look in envy at Paolina's zoccoli, her sandals with thin wooden bottoms. Paolina is only nine and she hasn't been subjected to high shoes and tight corsets yet.

    "Can I take my shoes off, Mother? Just for the boat ride, I mean."

    "Of course not, Donata."

    "But I hate these shoes. They keep me from doing what I want."

    "That's exactly why you should wear them." Mother reaches across Paolina's lap and gives a little yank to my wide skirt so that it lies flat over my lap. "High shoes make sure young ladies behave properly."

    "Because we're afraid of falling? But you always say proper behavior comes from proper thoughts."

    "Keep your shoes on, Donata. And don't make remarks like that when we arrive." Mother sits tall herself. "We're almost there now. Be perfect ladies, all of you."

    Laura, my twin, sits facing me, with our big sister Andriana beside her. Laura stretches out her right foot so that her shoe tip clunks against mine. She's grinning under the white veil that hides her face, I'm sure of that. The very idea of my being a perfect lady is absurd. I grin back, though, of course, Laura cannot see my face, either.

    Andriana's hands are in her lap, the fingers of one squeezed in the other so hard that her knuckles stand out like white beads. Mother's words make her throw her shoulders back and stretch her neck long. Underneath Andriana's veil, she is far from laughter; I bet her lips are pressed together hard.

    Mother grew up the daughter of a wealthy artisan--a citizen, not a noble. There are three kinds of Venetians: plain people, who cannot vote and whose needs and rights must be protected by the nobles; citizens, who can vote but not hold office; and nobles. Mother was lucky to marry into Father's noble family. We all know that, but Andriana is the one who worries about it. She worries that our questionable breeding casts doubt on her worthiness as a bride. But she needn't. Andriana is sixteen, two years older than Laura and I. She's ready for a husband. And she'll get one easily. The oldest daughter in any noble family marries, even if she's ugly. And Andriana, with her wide-set, hazel eyes and delicate, pointed chin, is stunning. The mothers at the garden party today will all want her as a daughter-in-law.

    If Andriana is lucky, she'll marry someone young and handsome. How I wish that for her. There are too many old widowers around looking for brides. The breath of decrepit Messer Corner, his exaggerated limp, the gray hair from his ears pollute my thoughts. That can't happen to...

About the Author-
  • Donna Jo Napoli is the author of Crazy Jack, The Magic Circle, Stones in Water, and many other books, and is the chairperson of the linguistics department at Swarthmore College.


    From the Hardcover edition.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 19, 2004
    A 14-year-old girl in the late 16th century wants to see Venice and receive the same education as her brothers. So she disguises herself as a boy and leads readers on a tour of historical Venice and its complex society and government. Ages 12-up.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from March 1, 2002
    Gr 7-10-As the daughter of a Venetian nobleman in 1592, 14-year-old Donata lives a sheltered and prescribed life. According to custom, her oldest sister will marry, either she or her identical twin Laura will stay home as the maiden aunt to care for her brother's children, and the other will go to a convent with their younger sisters. The girls spend their days doing chores, winding yarn onto giant bobbins for the family's wool trade, studying music, or going to parties where their oldest sister is examined as a marriage prospect. All that changes the day Donata dons boy's clothing and goes exploring outside the walls of the family's palazzo. Evading a bully, she ends up in the Jewish ghetto where she befriends a young man, No, who makes her question the privileges of her class, and at the same time she gains permission from her father to start studying with her brothers' tutor. When her parents announce a surprise betrothal that will curtail her studies and leave Laura convent-bound, Donata takes an action that drastically affects the whole family. While a current trend in historical fiction presents a girl with modern sensibilities chafing under the strict rules of her time, nothing about Donata seems forced. Even when acting rebelliously, her actions and thoughts feel authentic to the time and world that Napoli portrays. Even Donata's love for No is tempered by the knowledge that she could never convert to Judaism. Napoli's many fans will not be disappointed by this engrossing and exotic novel.-Lisa Prolman, Greenfield Public Library, MA

    Copyright 2002 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • School Library Journal, Starred

    "Napoli's many fans will not be disappointed by this engrossing and exotic novel."

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    Random House Children's Books
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