On seeing that the book is based in Napoli in 1564 I couldn’t wait to lose myself in the virtual pages of my Kindle. However on reading the first few words I was disappointed to say the least.
There was I expecting language of old, instead it would appear that Francesca could seem right at home in our modern world of the twenty first century. Also it would seem that the author would have liked to have added “…and she breathed then she sighed then humming she went to the toilet.” It seems every step is documented, which is unnecessary, yet we know nothing of the smell of the street, the texture of the buildings. The general feel of the area; does it feel dangerous? Dirty, dank, suffocating? We know not how she truly feels about being a courtesan. Is there anything in her that is disgusted by the situation? Even though she may be good at it, does she actually truly enjoy it? If so what does she enjoy about it? The act itself, the power over men? Or does she close her eyes and think of Italy until it’s over?
We know practically ever step she takes, every ache, pain and incident that she goes through. There is absolutely no mystery to her story.

However having said all that because it is written in modern English with only the very odd word in Italian it is very easy to fall into. Her problems seem a joy to follow through, it’s almost as if reading an instalment of a favourite soap. You the reader in this case are aware of a trial the character is about to undertake even before they do. You are ready for the imminent fall out and tears. You know without doubt what is about to happen. I believe that is why it has been so easy to read during my lunch breaks at work and at night time before dropping off to sleep.
The book is despite the subject quite a light read and quite if you’ll excuse me for saying so, enjoyable. Just as the inevitable Christmas day tragedy story line of soap land.

Francesca seems very two dimensional, even though I wanted to know how the story turned out I just didn’t care much for her. Her daughters though they are very important to the story and are beautifully child like I feel that their innocence and purity could have been expanded on. To me they seem mere shadows of children dancing across the page.

Carlo and Gianni two very different brothers and suffering an inner turmoil was hardly touched upon. You know of their family tragedy but not how it happened, or their continuing feelings of that situation. We know Carlo is the “bad guy” but we do not know his motivation behind this. Or how Gianni turned out to be so different to his brother.

For me the story of Maria and Fillipo is the one that seemed real, I really felt for Maria who wanted to come out of her shell but was unable to do so. And for Fillipo who didn’t want to hurt anyone but felt he had no choice in the actions he had taken. Something in me wants to know about Marias sisters story, and how Marias and Fillipos life turned out. However the way that their story ended feels right for this particular book. I only hope that Gabrielle Kimm feels a need to write a short story or novelette for these particular characters and finish their story properly.

This book felt like it would have made an amazing novel if only the story had started a lot sooner than it did, and if the language was of the time. Also if only more detail had been added, I enjoyed the story for what it is. But it could have been so much more.


                                                The Courtesan's Lover