“Enchantress of Florence”

In one of the first print reviews of Salman Rushdie’s Enchantress of Florence, the Washington Post Book World‘s Michael Dirda makes it sound like a beach book:

…it may come as a surprise that he has produced a book that is the equivalent of a summer fling. Set during the 16th century, The Enchantress of Florence is altogether ramshackle as a novel — oddly structured, blithely mixing history and legend and distinctly minor compared to such masterworks as The Moor’s Last Sigh and Midnight’s Children— and it is really not a novel at all. It is a romance, and only a dry-hearted critic would dwell on the flaws in so delightful an homage to Renaissance magic and wonder.

Alan Cheuse, of the Chicago Tribune, waxes poetic over it:

…it’s fact that allowed Rushdie to construct this great dream-palace of a novel. To build his twin story of life in the grand city of Florence, his hero’s home, and Sikri, the Mongol capital to which he has traveled, the novelist had to digest a library wall of volumes (an extensive bibliography follows the story). In a world in which many readers seem to crave fact after fact after fact—the tiresome legacy of our Puritan ancestors—the novelist, the last alchemist, miraculously turns fact into something greater, and as if transforming clay bricks into gold, gives facts life.

In a separate story, the NYT reports:

In Britain, where it has already been released, most reviewers have been smitten. John Sutherland, who has twice been a judge for the Man Booker literary prize, wrote in The Financial Times that if it “doesn’t win this year’s Man Booker I’ll curry my proof copy and eat it.”

The article notes that while Rushdie was working on the book, he and his third wife Padma Lakshmi, host of the cooking reality show, “Top Chef” split and finds an echo in the themes of the book; “Beauty and betrayal are both elements of Enchantress.”

  • Hardcover: $26.00
  • Publisher: Random House (May 27, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0375504338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375504334
  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Recorded Books
  • Reader: Firdous Bamji
  • ISBN-10: 1436148707
  • ISBN-13: 978-1436148702
  • Large Print:
  • Publisher: Random House Large Print Publishing (May 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0739328158
  • ISBN-13: 978-0739328156

The book is currently at #69 on the Amazon Top 100. All libraries I checked have it on order, with comfortable holds to copy ratios.

Note: Title Confusion Alert. The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston releases in a couple of weeks. The Wall Street Journal highlighted it in their preview of the forthcoming books that publishers, authors and booksellers are most looking forward to.

The Monster of Florence
by Douglas Preston

  • Hardcover: $25.99
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (June 10, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0446581194
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446581196
  • Audio CD: Unabridged edition, $39.98
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio; (June 10, 2008)
  • Reader: Dennis Boutsikaris
  • ISBN-10: 160024209X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1600242090
  • Large Print, Hardcover: $27.99
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (June 10, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 044650534X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446505345

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