Read for the 2009 YA Reading Challenge.
Most of Donna Jo Napoli’s books draw from fairy tale or folklore backgrounds, but Daughter of Venice is a straight historical fiction story, something I tend not to run into as often in my young adult reading.
Donata, with her twin sister Laura, is the second oldest daughter of a noble Venetian family in the late 16th century. There are 12 children in all in the family, and while they are wealthy, it’s probable that only one of the sons, and one of the daughters, will marry. The daughter will probably be Donata’s older sister Andriana, but Donata wishes to marry too, and experience more of the life outside her family’s palazzo home.
This is the background to Donata’s decision to sneak outside the palazzo, dressed as a boy, which leads her to a series of adventures, and ultimately will shape the lives of her and all her sisters.
This is a fun read. Donata is full of modern spunk (I seriously doubt a real Venetian girl from that time period would have been quite that daring), and her adventures cover a surprising amount of ground in Venice. I think I would have enjoyed this had I read it when I was younger, and would have undoubtedly wanted to learn more about the city. Being older, and having actually traveled there (for a far too brief time), I enjoyed imagining the past in those charming alleyways and canals.