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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Rossetti Letter by Christi Phillips book discussion

Claire Donovan always dreamed of visiting Venice, though not as a chaperone for a surly teenager. But she can’t pass up this chance to complete her Ph.D. dissertation on Alessandra Rossetti, a mysterious courtesan who wrote a secret letter to the Venetian Council warning of a Spanish plot to overthrow the Republic in 1618. Claire views Alessandra as a heroine and harbors a secret hope that her findings will elevate Alessandra to a more prominent place in history. But an arrogant Cambridge professor is set to present a paper at a prestigious Venetian university denouncing Alessandra as a co–conspirator—a move that could destroy Claire’s paper and career.

As Claire races to locate the documents that will reveal the courtesan’s true motives, Alessandra’s story comes to life with all the sensuality, political treachery, and violence of seventeenth–century Venice. Claire also falls under the city’s spell. She’s courted by a handsome Italian, matches wits with her academic adversary, bonds with her troubled young charge, and amid the boundless beauty of Venice, recaptures the joy of living every moment…

Layering wit and warmth into her portraits of two very different yet equally dynamic heroines, Christi Phillips shifts effortlessly between past and present in a remarkable novel that is at once a love story, a mystery, and an intriguing historical drama. Filled with beautifully rendered details of one of the world’s oldest and most magical cities, The Rossetti Letter marks Phillips’s debut as a writer of extraordinary skill and grace.

Tonight from 8-9 pm. EST Royal Reviews will be discussing The Rossetti Letter by Christi Phillips. So please feel free to stop by and join the discussion. If you are unable to do so, please feel free to leave your thoughts, comments, and/or questions.


Jenny Girl said...

Sounds like a riveting read. I'll have to get to this soon and come back read what everyone has said. Have fun tonight Ladies.

Renee said...


Welcome to the discussion of the Rossetti Letter. Please let me know when you have arrived.

-The Queen of the Quill

Renee said...
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Renee said...

Remember to hit the refresh button so that you can see the new comments

Crystal - Princess of Pop Culture said...

I'm here :)

Jenny Girl - you'll definitely have to read it and let us all know what you think!

Renee said...

Hi Crystal,


Crystal - Princess of Pop Culture said...

I pretty much liked everything about this book. The format really worked for me, I only wish we had gotten more of Alessandra!

Renee said...

While reading this novel did you find that you had a favorite character or one that you were drawn to?

Renee said...

Me too. I loved Alessandra, I would have loved to have seen her story play out more than was shown. It would be a nice touch if the author would write a book strictly about her.

Crystal - Princess of Pop Culture said...

I was drawn to Claire for sure, she reminded me of myself in many ways, and I especially loved her dedication to her work. I get that immersed in things I'm doing as well.

Gwen really grew on me throughout the novel too, I loved seeing how her tough exterior wasn't really what it seemed and she had a lot of vulnerabilities to work through and things to learn.

I kind of want to visit Venice now too, if for no better reason than those men, lol.

Crystal - Princess of Pop Culture said...

Yes, a book just about Alessandra would be awesome!

Renee said...
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Renee said...

found that I liked Alessandra, but being a historian I connected with Claire as well as her research.

Gwen was really fun to read. She reminds me of my cousin who happens to be the same age. So I while I read her part I visualize my cousin.

A trip to Venice would be amazing. A friend of mine had the opportunity to study abroad and she said that both the view & the men were lovely.

Renee said...

Do you think that story would have worked in another setting other than Venice?

Crystal - Princess of Pop Culture said...

I think that so much of the story was dependent upon Venice itself that I'm not sure it would have worked anywhere else, at least not in the same way. There was so much love coming from the characters for Venice itself, especially Alessandra as she's living there and thinking about her options for the future.

I think the idea at its core - a historical fiction about a controversy - would work in other settings. This novel reminded me a lot of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, which is about the Salem Witch Trials. I highly recommend that novel as well, and it had a similar feel and dynamic to the way the story played out.

Renee said...

While reading the story, it felt like Venice itself was an actual character. So I think that it would have lost a bit of flavour placing in another setting.

I agree that the core of the story could work in any other setting. I haven't had a chance to read The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, but it is on my TBR List.

Have you has a chance to read The Devlin Diary.?

Renee said...

I meant to put have you had a chance to read The Devlin Diary. (It's been a long day)

What did you think about the character of Antonio?

Crystal - Princess of Pop Culture said...

Yes, Venice definitely felt like a character in itself. I loved that aspect :) I haven't read The Devlin Diary, but I immediately added it to my TBR pile when I finished this one! I wish she was writing something else set in Italy, but I love London as well so the setting sounds really appealing.

I really liked Antonio - dangerous, but so charming at the same time. I mean, I kept feeling like it wouldn't be a good idea to be involved with him, but he was so appealing, I'm not sure I could stop myself either!

Renee said...

You have to read the Devil Diary, it was my favorite of the two. Normally I am intrigued by the historical novels that are set in Scotland, Ireland, England- although I found that the Rossetti Letter peaked my interested in Venice.

I too liked Antonio- I think it's that bad boy appeal. I was hoping that he would have had a better ending- I hate it when one of my favorite characters dies in the end. It was the same as when I read Here Burns My Candle, you get connect to the characters only to find that they die in the end.

What did you think of Andrew?

Crystal - Princess of Pop Culture said...

I agree, very similar to Here Burns My Candle! I was very disappointed that Antonio died, my heart broke for Alessandra, especially since it felt so unnecessary.

Andrew irritated me for much of the novel, and I became even more bothered when it seemed like Claire was getting interested in him, since I liked Giancarlo a lot better! I liked him as a scholar, just not as a love interest for Claire. I guess that's why we're just the spectators :)

Renee said...

I agree with you about Andrew. When I discussed this book with my local reading group, I was the only one who could not stand him. I found him quite annoying, and wanted him as far away from Claire as he could possibly get. Giancarlo seemed to hold my attention-he was by far a better match for Claire. I would have liked to have seen her go back to Venice after dropping off Gwen.

Would you have changed anything about the story?

Crystal - Princess of Pop Culture said...

What you said - I definitely would have had her going back to Venice! I'm pretty sure that's what *I* would have done - go back to Venice, then prepare for the job in London later :) Giancarlo seemed so eager to experience more than what he had, just like Claire, and it would have been great to see them try it out.

Otherwise, I really liked the story, especially how things developed with Gwen and the real story came out about her parents marriage situation. Loved that the mom meant to hit the golf cart!!!

I love this discussion, I need to book more time in the future, lol. We should totally pick back up later or via email - it's great to hear what other people think about the book :)

Renee said...

I would have headed straight back to Venice as well!! I felt as though they lacked something because of not going, but then again I was not the writer.

Overall it was an amazing story that will stick in my mind.

Thanks for joining-I love hearing what other have to say. I will send an email out regarding future discussions. Maybe we can try to do The Devlin Diary.

Until We Meet Again
Best Wishes & Happy Reading

Cat said...

Sorry I missed the discussion - I thought I had the time difference figured out but forgot to allow for daylight saving and tuned in as you were winding up. :(

Really enjoyed reading your thoughts. I liked the book very much. Quite often with these past/present stories I find one part,usually the historical, appeals more (Deliverance Dane was one) but I thought Christi Phillips had a great balance between the two.
Alessandra's time was full of intrigue, danger and death while Claire's had a much lighter tone with plenty of humour. I loved the dialogue between Claire and Andrew and Gwen.

I have to put in a good word for poor Andrew. Underneath that prickly defensive attitude is a good guy and overall with their shared interests probably the ideal man for Claire.

I was interested in the Tarot references - picked up early on some of the chapters were titled with the names of cards from the Major Arcana and had some fun trying to work out why.

Very sad when Antonio died but glad Alessandro found happiness with Paolo.

Great historical fiction and I look forward to reading The Devlin Diary.