12 Nov 2011


In 158, twenty-one-year old Shiloh ben Gozan flees the Spanish Inquisition to live openly as a Jew in Venice. He brings with him a baby daughter and an oddly made turquoise ring, crafted by a strange Moor in Toledo and given to him by a woman he cannot forget.

In Venice, as this ring is hidden, stolen, traded, lost, and finally found again, it shapes not just Shiloh's life but that of his great enemy and business rival, Antonio di Argento, whom he finally - and horrofyingly - confronts in a Venetian courtroom. The ring also becomes entangled in the fortunes of five women who deeply affect Shiloh's life: Leah, his first love; Nerissa, an irrepressible maidservant; Portia, an outrageously rich and alarmingly intelligent heiress; and lastly Xanthe, a Spanish refugee who alone can unlock the secret of his past.
...... Inner front cover.

FIRST SENTENCE (Chapter 1): The ring lay on the back corner of one of the swordmaker's shelves.

MEMORABLE MOMENT(Page 208): Her mind craved puzzle and challenge like a man craved a woman's kiss. Portia would torture her mind and rack her brain to bend the world to her desire, and find pleasure in the struggle.

KEEP IT OR NOT?: My mam would like to read this. I have no intention of rereading it let alone keeping it.

A difficult novel to review as if I'm totally honest I don't know quite what to make of it myself. Obviously well researched and well written, I'm not too sure that I liked the authors style though. Hmm, though written using modern language it still seemed a bit of an old fashioned read, somehow (and yet somehow not) written in a kind of Shakespearean way that I found, if not exactly difficult to read, than strange.

Slightly Shakespearean in tone eh? Well, I was warned as as Joel Gross (author of The Books Of Rachel) stated on the front cover The Turquoise Ring was .......

A passionate and evocative reinterpretation of Shakespeare's The Merchant Of Venice.

Not something I could possibly comment on never having seen a theatre production of The Merchant Of Venice let alone read the play.

Anyway, concentrating mainly on the stories of five very different woman all of whose lives are connected in one way or another made extremely interesting reading - very nearly, but not quite, as fascinating as reading about the Jewish communities living in Spain and Venice during the 1500's.

And now, if I may, one final thought.

Generally speaking I'm one of those readers who enjoys a good, well written character almost to the extent that they are more important to me than a good plot BUT, on thinking about it, this may be, just may be, one of the things that just didn't do it for me in this book as re-reading this review, it occurs to me that the author perhaps went for over-kill on character development to the cost of any real, meaningful plot.

Ex-library stock, the 86th book  read for my 100+ Reading Challenge.


Betty Manousos@ Cut and Dry said...

i'm sorry this book didn't meet your expectations.
thanks for another great review!

betty xx

Heather said...

The title of this book drew me here. I read most of your post and I do think that If I saw this in the store, it would draw me to it again. I'd probably buy it even if you had said it was aweful. Something about the colour is very attractive.

Mary (Bookfan) said...

I need good balance between plot and characters so this probably would not be the book for me. And that's too bad because I enjoy historical fiction. Thanks for your honest impressions.

Alexia561 said...

Not a big fan of historical fiction, so think I'll give this one a pass. Great job on the review!

And congrats on reading 86 books towards your 100 book challenge! You're almost there!

The Golden Eagle said...

I like strong plot in the books I read--though characters are important--so I don't think I'll be reading this one. Thanks for the review.

Kelly said...

What a shame you didn't enjoy this one. I love Historical Fiction and the plot sounds so interesting!

Arti said...

The plot seemed very interesting to me but if it is in Shakespherian English then it will be difficult for me to grasp...
Have a nice Sunday Tracy:)