A fantastic first novel in a potential trilogy, both romantic and thrilling. Set in a parallel world, called Bellezza, very similar to Venice, the narrative follows Lucien, who in our world is ill with cancer. Given a marbled notebook to help him communicate when his throat hurts too much to speak, the notebook is the means that transports Lucien to this magical, dangerous new world. This is a world which is still in the sixteenth-century, and thrills to the delight of adventure and political intrigue, including assassination attempts both foiled and successful. The parallel Venice is astonishingly evoked, with the silks and velvets, the sensuousness of the food and the elegance of the city and its waterways all beautifully and powerfully described. The final effect is both unforgettable and convincingly real. Follow Lucien as he finds out that he is in fact a Stravagante - a powerful magician who can travel in space and time - and as he becomes inextricably linked with the lives and fates of the people in Bellezza. A must-read book.
Mary Hoffman is a best-selling children's author and reviewer. She is the author of the picture book 'Amazing Grace' which is an international best-seller. Her last novel was Special Powers which has sold over 60,000 copies. She is a complete afficionado of Italy, and spends as much time as she can there - all her love for Italy has been infused into this book. She is currently doing an Italian literature course. Mary is also the editor of Armadillo, a children's revew magazine. She has three grown-up children and lives with her husband in Carterton, outside Oxford.