The Virgins of Venice

by Gina Buonaguro

In this engrossing novel set in 16th-century Venice, one young noblewoman dares to resist the choices made for her: a marriage of strategic alliance or the convent

Venice in 1509 is on the brink of war. The displeasure of Pope Julius II is a continuing threat to the republic, as is the barely contained fighting in the countryside. Amid this political turmoil, noblewoman Justina Soranzo, just sixteen, hopes to make a rare love marriage with her sweetheart, Luca Cicogna. Her hopes are dashed when her father decides her younger sister Rosa will be the one to marry; Justina will instead be sent to the San Zaccaria convent. Lord Soranzo is not acting only to protect his family. It’s well known that he is in debt to both his trading partners and the most infamous courtesan in the city, La Diamante, and the pressure is closing in.

Arriving at the convent, Justina takes solace with her Aunt Livia, one of the nuns, and in the growing knowledge that all is not strictly devout at San Zaccaria. Justina is shocked to discover how the women of the convent find their own freedom in what seems to her like a prison. When secrets, family scandals and a threat from La Diamante erupt, Justina turns to Luca in ways she never expected to protect the ones she loves. Will Justina risk her noble status, her family’s good name, and the purity of her soul to follow her heart?

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Image credit: Wikipedia for cover; LookandLearn for image of San Zaccaria