Thursday, 13 July 2017

Descendants of an old trade route

'She crossed over to the shelf where her father kept the dragon vase.  He had placed it there when they first arrived in Venice.  She took it down carefully, feeling it cool and comforting under her shaking fingers.'

Venice 1441: Maria and her brother Daniele arrive in the birthplace of their father, Niccolo dei Conti.  An Italian merchant who had travelled far and wide, Niccolo has brought spices from India, lengths of silk and damask from the lands east of India and porcelain; a vase of pure white, its surface decorated with a cobalt blue dragon, the Chinese symbol of good fortune.

Maria settles in her new home, watching the magnificent and bustling city come to life each morning from her bedroom window.  But while her father is away travelling, she soon finds herself and Daniele in terrible danger.  She must protect her brother at whatever cost, and she must guard the delicate vase.

London 2015:  Single mother Miranda is struggling to make ends meet and build a new life for her and daughter Georgie.  When Miranda meets the charming but mysterious Charles. she is intrigued. Could he be her second chance at love?  And why is he so fascinated by the old vase sitting on her hall table ...

This is a wondrous historical novel that is well researched.  This is a multi-generational tale with multiple time lines yet the main pivotal character is a Ming Vase, much revered by past generations yet loathed by the current generation.

I personally loved the interplay between the two main stories, one told in back story and one told in the current/future time line.  Each timeline had different issues in the past there was trouble, in the present/future there is tension and mystery.  Both stories include the journey of the vase from its origins in China to its current location.

The novel was written in the third person, as though we were an observer to all the action.  The description of historic events was fairly precise and although the characters were well researched and reasonably well written it was difficult to form an emotional bond with them.  I thought that the modern day characters were unaware of the value of the vase, not least its historical value but also its monetary value until it was potentially too late although it caused some exciting intrigue for a while.

One lovely aspect was that Miranda followed the journey of the vase and ended up in Venice.  The description of Venice was spot on and it felt as though the story had come full circle and yet it felt a bit empty.

If you like a bit of fact with your historical fiction then this novel, with its family saga elements and intrigue, may well be up your street.

Thank you Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I rated it 5 stars on Netgalley, 4 stars on Amazon and Goodreads.

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