The Zorzi Affair: A Novel of Galileo's Italy
Sylvia Prince, author
In the rich world of Renaissance Venice, daughters are valuable commodities. But Zaneta Lucia refuses to be bartered away on the marriage market. Instead, she flees to Padua to study science. The only catch: she has to disguise herself as a boy to enroll at the university. Her new life seems perfect, but it can't last forever.
Set in Renaissance Italy, this coming-of-age story follows a delightful heroine in Zaneta Lucia Zorzi, a beautiful 15-year-old with a desire to study science, who is being forced into marriage. Zaneta Lucia is the daughter of a once-illustrious Venetian family that is seeking to repair its fortunes with her prestigious marriage. After a glittering engagement party, Zaneta Lucia realizes she can’t give up her clandestine pursuit of learning to marry a controlling man with a hostile, pregnant mistress. She dons a boyish disguise, adopts the name Luca Manelli, and runs away to Padua, hoping to make a new life for herself at the university and meet Galileo. On her journey, she fortuitously meets Paolo, a University of Padua student who is a boarder in Galileo’s home. While maintaining her disguise, Zaneta Lucia rents a room from Galileo while studying for the entrance exams. Meanwhile, her infuriated parents have sent someone to Padua to find her and bring her back. Threats, a mystery, and the ever-present risk of exposure enhance a story already distinguished by Prince’s elaborate descriptions of people and towns, and by the portrayal of female subjugation in academia, in families, and, offhandedly, in conversation. The renderings of Zaneta Lucia’s inner life and journey of self-discovery make this romantic adventure a winner. (BookLife)