Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Review: The Rossetti Letter by Christi Phillips

Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2007

Venice - city of secrets, masks, romance and danger!

In the early 17th century a Venetian courtesan, Alessandra Rossetti, becomes embroiled in a dangerous political intrigue. She alone has the power to reveal a Spanish plot against the Republic. But to do so would threaten the life of the one she loves.
Centuries later, postgraduate student, Claire Donovan is writing her dissertation on the young courtesan. She knows Alessandra wrote a secret letter to the Venetian Council exposing the Spanish Conspiracy but until now, no one knows how Alessandra learned of the plot or what happened to her once it was revealed.

When Claire is asked if she will chaperone rebellious teenager, Gwen, on a trip to Venice, it's an opportunity she can't turn down. A chance to continue her research and attempt to locate vital documents and to attend lectures at the University on her subject. Until she discovers that a Cambridge professor will be presenting a paper on the Spanish Conspiracy asserting that Alessandra was a co-conspirator. If he can prove his theory all of Claire's work, and her academic career, will be ruined.

17th century Venice is vividly depicted and rich in obviously well researched period detail. Alessandra's story is told from her early life as the daughter of a wealthy merchant to being orphaned and trained in the life of a courtesan. Despite the beauty of Venice her world becomes one of darkness and fear where political intrigue is always present and threatening and reading these chapters one can constantly feel an atmosphere of impending tragedy .
For the second time this month the inclusion of Tarot into the story added an extra interest for me.

The modern day sections aren't as interesting but I do think the author did well by creating a much lighter atmosphere to contrast with Alessandra's story. Some of the dialogue between Claire and both Gwen and Andrew is very amusing. I didn't really care for the extra romantic interests which seemed a bit unnecessary but enjoyed the central plot development and sharing Claire's efforts to follow the clues and discover the truth of the Rossetti Letter.

Extras that are always appreciated include a list of characters, a list of sources and an author's note to help differentiate between fact and fiction.

The Rossetti Letter is one of those books that is a mixture of many things - history, mystery, romance and adventure - which when put together make very entertaining reading. I enjoyed it!

Historical Tapestry ABC Challenge

V is for Venice


  1. This sounds like a good one. Who can resist Venice? :)


  2. I don't believe I've ever read anything set in this time/place. This sounds like a good one to add to my list!

  3. I've only just recently discovered a love for historical fiction. This sounds like one I might just have to add to my TBR list!