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stevenlight has commented on (5) products.

In the Company of the Courtesan: A Novel by Sarah Dunant
In the Company of the Courtesan: A Novel

stevenlight, August 18, 2006

Set in Venice and Rome, In the Company of the Courtesan is Dunant's second book about Renaissance Italy. In this book, a Roman courtesan, Fiametta, and her dwarf, Bucino, are victims of the sack of Rome in 1527. Barely escaping with their lives, they end up in Venice where they have to live off the gems they swallowed to ensure their fortune when arriving in Venice.
Hopeful about coming home, Fiametta is devastated to learn that her mother had recently passed away. From this point forward Fiametta, Bucino, Meragosa (their house servant) and La Draga (the healer) are wrapped in a series of events that eventually lead to one's disappearance and one's death.
In the Company of the Courtesan is a good book. The writing is captivating and the story is very interesting. I couldn't wait for my daily reading time to find out how things were going to progress. The story is told from Bucino's perspective, so we have a first-person account of the life of a dwarf and the pains--both physical and emotional--that he endures as a result of his deformity. Intrigue, sexual politics, and the mystery of Venice supply ample setting for a fulfilling read.
Also recommended: Conversation with Spinoza by Goce Smilevski, Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier.
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(19 of 33 readers found this comment helpful)



In the Company of the Courtesan: A Novel by Sarah Dunant
In the Company of the Courtesan: A Novel

stevenlight, August 18, 2006

Set in Venice and Rome, In the Company of the Courtesan is Dunant's second book about Renaissance Italy. In this book, a Roman courtesan, Fiametta, and her dwarf, Bucino, are victims of the sack of Rome in 1527. Barely escaping with their lives, they end up in Venice where they have to live off the gems they swallowed to ensure their fortune when arriving in Venice.
Hopeful about coming home, Fiametta is devastated to learn that her mother had recently passed away. From this point forward Fiametta, Bucino, Meragosa (their house servant) and La Draga (the healer) are wrapped in a series of events that eventually lead to one's disappearance and one's death.
In the Company of the Courtesan is a good book. The writing is captivating and the story is very interesting. I couldn't wait for my daily reading time to find out how things were going to progress. The story is told from Bucino's perspective, so we have a first-person account of the life of a dwarf and the pains--both physical and emotional--that he endures as a result of his deformity. Intrigue, sexual politics, and the mystery of Venice supply ample setting for a fulfilling read.
The only complaint I have about the book is that the characters are not as rich and inviting as they could have been. It isn't until the end that I really feel sympathy or notice a complexity to the characters. Having enjoyed the characters so much in Birth of Venice, I was a bit disappointed in this aspect of the book; however, it is not so distracting that I wouldn't highly recommend it to readers interested in historical fiction.
Also recommended: Conversation with Spinoza by Goce Smilevski, Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier.
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(9 of 17 readers found this comment helpful)



Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier
Girl with a Pearl Earring

stevenlight, August 18, 2006

This gifted author weaves a mesmerizing tale around Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer's most famous painting, creating an incandescent and luminous work of her own. His painting is a simple, though enigmatic, portrait of a girl with a pearl earring, about which little is known. The author, however, a born storyteller, creates a living, breathing story around it, using a singular, first person narrative. Told in spare, elegant prose, the author leaps into literary renown with this book.
The events in the book are viewed through the eyes of Griet, a sixteen year old Dutch girl, whose changed family circumstances force her into taking a position as a maid in the home of a renowned painter, the taciturn Johannes Vermeer. There, the painter resides with his tempestuous wife, Catharina, their brood of unruly children, his commanding and shrewd mother-in-law, Maria Thins, and their loyal housekeeper and cook, Tanneke. The author lovingly details seventeenth century life in the Dutch city of Delft. It is here that Griet's story unfolds.
Sensitive and perceptive, Griet is attuned to the under currents in the Vermeer household and, at first, takes care not to draw attention to herself. Still, she, the daughter of a tile painter, is curious about Vermeer's artistry and is drawn to his work and his methods. Vermeer, sensing a kindred artistic spirit in Griet, draws her into his world of paint, color, light, and beauty, creating an intimacy of the spirit between the two.
Still, Griet, a girl on the brink of becoming a woman, finds herself confused and breathlessly desiring more than she may have. Her longing for more than a communion of the spirit with Vermeer is palpable. It is, therefore, not surprising that the undercurrents in the Vermeer household should come bubbling to the surface and engulf Griet, much to her consternation.
This is a stunning literary work that fully realizes the promise that the author showed in her debut novel, "The Virgin Blue". She is an author that understands the less is often more, and she makes every word count. Deliberate and spare, her prose is lyrical in its simplicity, weaving a tale that will keep the reader spellbound. This is historical fiction at its finest.
Also recommended: Conversation with Spinoza by Goce Smilevski, In the Company of the Courtesan
by Sarah Dunant.
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(12 of 25 readers found this comment helpful)



Conversation with Spinoza: A Cobweb Novel (Writings from an Unbound Europe) by Goce Smilevski
Conversation with Spinoza: A Cobweb Novel (Writings from an Unbound Europe)

stevenlight, August 18, 2006

"Conversation with Spinoza" is an imaginary conversation using Spinoza's work as a way into his scantily documented life. The great rational philosopher meets his interlocutor whom, it seems, he essentially missed his whole life.
Prizing ideas above all else, Spinoza left little behind in the way of personal facts and furnishings.
Through the conversation with Spinoza, there are two constant and parallel streams ? two voices, two characters of the same person; Spinoza narrates his life twice through the eyes of his two portraits with a 20-year distance, separate as two worlds in one soul.
The space between the two parallel stories, the same as the one between two parallel lines, stays unmarked, with the absence of touch or a real encounter.
Spinoza tells his life story: the early death of his mother, his rejection of all romance, the books he wrote and the ideas he cultivated ? it's a life free from emotion or desire, lived according to his ideals.
Coming to life at the end of the novel, being dead at the beginning, Spinoza is being born in as many ways as there are different worlds of the readers who, talking to him, knitted the threads of the spider-web, which is included in the game of philosophy and the game in philosophy ? a game in which the stakes are nothing less than life itself.
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(14 of 26 readers found this comment helpful)



The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Alchemist

stevenlight, August 18, 2006

In `The Alchemist," Paulo Coehlo weaves a story that is a figurative biography of the life fulfilled, of a fearless human being, and of and a emotional state to which many of his readers will undoubtedly aspire. Using a dreamy, almost transcendental writing style, Coehlo creates an experience for the reader that is not quite like that provided by any other contemporary author.
`The Alchemist' is the story of a man's life journey. The moral is an oxymoron of the simplicity of a warm wind blowing on one's face and the impossible complexity of the web of life that touches each one of us and the thousands of others whose lives we affect through our daily interactions. Yes, love is a part of that journey - an important part, but it is only still just a part. `The Alchemist' is much more. It is the story of realizing one's purpose on this earth. In his self-actualization, Santiago becomes so much more to the world and much more to the people around him.
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(28 of 52 readers found this comment helpful)



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