In the Company of the Courtesan, by Sarah Dunant. I've been less than inspired by anything I've read lately, even when the books are pretty good. I've been picking things that are simple, often YA, plot-driven--usually what I need when I'm having trouble concentrating. But a couple of weeks ago I was at the library, and this book that had been on my list for a while happened to be sitting out, so I picked it up.
I was really hopeful about this book, but I really don't know anything about the author or much about the story. Mostly I liked the cover design, which included the Venus of Urbino. And, as it turns out, it's richly written, descriptive, and takes place in 16th century Venice. The latter is not a problem, but the former sound like qualities I would not be looking for in a book right now.
But this book is amazing. It's full of wonderful detail about what is involved in being a fabulous courtesan, how the rich and the poor live in Venice, how to escape a marauding army, and so on. The story is simple, but engaging, and the narrator is a wonderful character. I'm so glad I'm reading it--I really needed something that I could dig into and love right now. So pleased!
It's not a fast read, exactly, though, and the baby was due today, so we'll have to see if I finish it. Oh, everyone wish me luck.