Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Book Review: The Orphan's Song by Lauren Kate @laurenkatebooks

The Orphan's Song by Lauren Kate. Book cover and review
The Orphan's Song is a beautiful story of a strange and interesting time and place in history.

Venice, 1736. Violetta is an orphan who lives at the Hospital of the Incurables. Not only does it house syphilitic people, but it is an orphanage that trains singers for the coro, a famous group that sings at the church. Mino is an orphan who lives on the boys' side. Girls and boys never see each other. Boys are kept until a suitable apprenticeship can be found.

Weird things:

1.  During this period of time in Venice, people almost always wore masks in public. Which, of course, is sometimes very convenient. Or dangerous. Or inconvenient.

2. If Violetta is chosen for the coro, she will sign an oath to never sing anywhere else in Venice--ever. Coro singers, after their time in the group, will either be married or sent to a nunnery.

3. People leave orphaned children on a wheel, so no harm comes to them. They put the child on the wheel, and turn it so they are inside until someone in the hospital finds them.

Violetta and Mino both take solace on the roof of the hospital, and eventually meet and begin a relationship. Mino plays a violin that he has repaired himself. Violetta sings. What Mino doesn't know is that Violetta witnessed, from this rooftop, Mino's mother dropping him off on the wheel. The song she sings to Mino is the song his mother sang when she left him. Mino has half a token with a picture on it. His mother has the other half. Mino vows to find his mother once he leaves the hospital.

Mino does get an apprenticeship building gondolas that float on the canals of Venice. He builds a life and a solid future for him and Violetta. On one of the few outings that the females are allowed, he steals Violetta and asks her to marry him. To his shock, she says "no."

This begins Mino's demise into poverty. He becomes a beggar, living day to day. Violetta becomes the premier singer in the coro. But she isn't happy either and begins to sneak out at night. She finds a gambling house and meets the owner who convinces her to sing once a week. She becomes famous. (Remember, all of this is under her mask.)

Mino's fortunes eventually begin to improve. And both of our main characters seem like they will be happy in their separate lives, even though they never forget each other. Happiness is fleeting.

I was mesmerized by the setting and characters in The Orphan's Song. Such a different and bizarre world. It seems they will never find each other. How can they -- even if they were looking for each other -- they are always under masks! It makes for an exciting tale. My only complaint is that the story really dragged for a while in the middle. Lots of setup before things really start happening. A minor complaint. Since I enjoyed the world Kate had created, I was patient.

If you are at all interested in history, especially historical romances, The Orphan's Song is a wonderful example.

Published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, June 25, 2019
eARC obtained from NetGalley
336 pages

Rating: 4/5

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  1. The masks sound like they add an interesting dimension to this story--anything can be hidden behind them!

  2. Sounds interesting. And the cover is gorgeous!


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