100 books like Marriage Wars in Late Renaissance Venice

By Joanne M. Ferraro,

Here are 100 books that Marriage Wars in Late Renaissance Venice fans have personally recommended if you like Marriage Wars in Late Renaissance Venice. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of In the Company of the Courtesan: A Novel

Kathleen Ann Gonzalez Author Of A Beautiful Woman in Venice

From my list on undaunted Italian women to inspire you.

Why am I passionate about this?

Since 1996 when my first trip to Venice rearranged my interior life, I have been visiting the city and learning everything I can about it. Most of my reading led me to men’s history, but with some digging, I uncovered the stories of Venice’s inspired, undaunted, hardworking women. Their proto-feminism motivated me to share their stories with others in an attempt to redefine beauty. I’ve also created videos showing sites connected to these women’s lives, and I’ve written four books about Venetians, including extensive research into Giacomo Casanova and two anthologies celebrating Venetian life. Reading and writing about Venice helps me connect more deeply with my favorite city.

Kathleen's book list on undaunted Italian women to inspire you

Kathleen Ann Gonzalez Why did Kathleen love this book?

In prose that is engrossing and rich in color, culture, and voice, Dunant’s historical fiction novel incorporates stories of two of the women that I included in my own book.

The courtesan Fiammetta, loosely based on the life of Veronica Franco, and her healer La Draga, inspired by Elena Crusichi, pulled me into eighteenth-century Venice and its opportunities and dangers for enterprising women. Paired with reading Franco’s actual poems and letters, edited and translated by Ann Rosalind Jones and Margaret F. Rosenthal, I developed a deep admiration and compassion for Franco and Crusichi during Venice’s heyday.

Dunant has again written a page turner that I read more than once.

By Sarah Dunant,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked In the Company of the Courtesan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

My lady, Fiammetta Bianchini, was plucking her eyebrows and biting color into her lips when the unthinkable happened and the Holy Roman Emperor’s army blew a hole in the wall of God’s eternal city, letting in a flood of half-starved, half-crazed troops bent on pillage and punishment.

Thus begins In the Company of the Courtesan, Sarah Dunant’s epic novel of life in Renaissance Italy. Escaping the sack of Rome in 1527, with their stomachs churning on the jewels they have swallowed, the courtesan Fiammetta and her dwarf companion, Bucino, head for Venice, the shimmering city born out of water to…


Book cover of Virgins of Venice: Broken Vows and Cloistered Lives in the Renaissance Convent

Gina Buonaguro Author Of The Virgins of Venice

From my list on women in Renaissance Venice.

Why am I passionate about this?

My goal as a writer is to revive lost women’s stories through historical fiction. After co-authoring several historical novels, our last mystery set in Renaissance Rome, we decided to set the sequel in Venice. When we decided to split amicably before finishing that novel, I had spent so much time researching Renaissance Venice that I instantly knew I wanted to set my first solo novel there and focus on girls and women whose stories are so frequently lost to history. So began a quest to learn everything I could about the females of 15th and 16th-century Venice, leading me toward both academic and fictional works of the era.

Gina's book list on women in Renaissance Venice

Gina Buonaguro Why did Gina love this book?

Mary Laven’s readable academic book Virgins of Venice is the definitive resource on the topic of nuns in Renaissance Venice. She explores every aspect of what it was like to be and live as a nun during a roughly two-hundred-year period, when most convents were filled with high-status women of no religious calling, forced to live there by their fathers and the strict social conventions of the time.

By Mary Laven,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Virgins of Venice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A portrait of 16th and 17th century Italian convent life, set in the vibrant culture of late Renaissance Venice. Early 16th century Venice had 50 convents and about 3000 nuns. Far from being places of religious devotion, the convents were often little more than dumping-grounds for unmarried women fron the upper ranks of Venetian society. Often entering a convent at seven years old, these young women remained emotionally and socially attached to their families and to their way of life outside the convent. Supported by their private incomes, the nuns ate, dressed and behaved as gentlewomen. In contravention of their…


Book cover of The Midwife of Venice

Gina Buonaguro Author Of The Virgins of Venice

From my list on women in Renaissance Venice.

Why am I passionate about this?

My goal as a writer is to revive lost women’s stories through historical fiction. After co-authoring several historical novels, our last mystery set in Renaissance Rome, we decided to set the sequel in Venice. When we decided to split amicably before finishing that novel, I had spent so much time researching Renaissance Venice that I instantly knew I wanted to set my first solo novel there and focus on girls and women whose stories are so frequently lost to history. So began a quest to learn everything I could about the females of 15th and 16th-century Venice, leading me toward both academic and fictional works of the era.

Gina's book list on women in Renaissance Venice

Gina Buonaguro Why did Gina love this book?

This evocative novel tells the story of a Jewish midwife making her way in a very Christian Renaissance Venice. Along with all Jews confined to the ghetto at night by doge’s decree, Hannah is not permitted to help Christians with her medical knowledge. However, when her husband is taken to Malta and sold as a slave, Hannah finds that certain laws can be broken, for the right price.

By Roberta Rich,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Midwife of Venice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Not since Anna Diamant’s The Red Tent or Geraldine Brooks’s People of the Book has a novel transported readers so intimately into the complex lives of women centuries ago or so richly into a story of intrigue that transcends the boundaries of history. A “lavishly detailed” (Elle Canada) debut that masterfully captures sixteenth-century Venice against a dramatic and poetic tale of suspense.

Hannah Levi is renowned throughout Venice for her gift at coaxing reluctant babies from their mothers using her secret “birthing spoons.” When a count implores her to attend his dying wife and save their unborn son, she is…


Book cover of Ciao, Carpaccio! An Infatuation

Gina Buonaguro Author Of The Virgins of Venice

From my list on women in Renaissance Venice.

Why am I passionate about this?

My goal as a writer is to revive lost women’s stories through historical fiction. After co-authoring several historical novels, our last mystery set in Renaissance Rome, we decided to set the sequel in Venice. When we decided to split amicably before finishing that novel, I had spent so much time researching Renaissance Venice that I instantly knew I wanted to set my first solo novel there and focus on girls and women whose stories are so frequently lost to history. So began a quest to learn everything I could about the females of 15th and 16th-century Venice, leading me toward both academic and fictional works of the era.

Gina's book list on women in Renaissance Venice

Gina Buonaguro Why did Gina love this book?

A beautiful little book that showcases the paintings of early Renaissance painter Vittore Carpaccio, we see many women in his works. Some of saints, some bordering on the fantastical, a few quite realistic – all the women in Carpaccio’s art would have been inspired by real women living and working in Venice in the late 1400s and early 1500s.

By Jan Morris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ciao, Carpaccio! An Infatuation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the course of writing Venice, her 1961 classic, Jan Morris became fascinated by the historical presence of a sometimes-overlooked Venetian painter. Nowadays the name of Vittore Carpaccio (1460-1520) suggests raw beef, but to Morris it conveyed far more profound meanings. Thus began a lifelong infatuation, reaching across the centuries, between a renowned Welsh writer and a great and delightfully entertaining artist of the early Renaissance. Handsomely designed with more than seventy photographs throughout, Ciao,Carpaccio! is a happy caprice of affection. In illuminating the life of the artist and his paintings, Morris throws in digressions about Venetian animals, courtesans, babies,…


Book cover of The Gondola Maker

C. P. Lesley Author Of The Golden Lynx

From my list on the 16th century that don’t involve Tudors.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with Russian history as a college sophomore, when I realized the place was like a movie series, all drama and extremes. I completed a doctorate at Stanford in early modern Russia and later published The Domostroi: Rules for Russian Households in the Time of Ivan the Terrible. Because so few people in the West know about the contemporaries of the Tudors and Borgias, I set out to write a set of novels, published under a pseudonym, aimed at a general audience, and set in sixteenth-century Russia. I interview authors for the New Books Network, where I favor well-written books set in unfamiliar times and places.

C. P.'s book list on the 16th century that don’t involve Tudors

C. P. Lesley Why did C. P. love this book?

This novel, set in sixteenth-century Venice, reminds us that the Italian Renaissance was a great time to be a devotee of the pictorial arts. And it does so without getting caught up in the scandals surrounding the Borgias, who are almost as overdone as the Tudors. Luca Vianello is the heir to Venice’s premier gondola maker, until tragedy sends him off on a journey through poverty and hard work that ends when he becomes the personal boatman of the painter Trevisan. Morelli, who trained as an art historian, is intimately acquainted with the former Italian city-states, and like the other novels on my list, hers immerses you in Renaissance everyday life at a very personal level.

By Laura Morelli,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Gondola Maker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Award-winning historical fiction set in 16th-century Venice
Benjamin Franklin Digital Award
IPPY Award for Best Adult Fiction E-book
National Indie Excellence Award Finalist
Eric Hoffer Award Finalist
Shortlisted for the da Vinci Eye Prize

From the author of Made in Italy comes a tale of artisanal tradition and family bonds set in one of the world's most magnificent settings: Renaissance Venice.

Venetian gondola-maker Luca Vianello considers his whole life arranged. His father charted a course for his eldest son from the day he was born, and Luca is positioned to inherit one of the city's most esteemed boatyards. But when…


Book cover of Everyday Renaissances: The Quest for Cultural Legitimacy in Venice

Nicholas Scott Baker Author Of In Fortune's Theater: Financial Risk and the Future in Renaissance Italy

From my list on exploring what what Renaissance Italy was really like.

Why am I passionate about this?

I teach the histories of early modern Europe and European worlds at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. I developed a fascination for the period and, especially, for the Italian Renaissance as an undergraduate before going on to complete a PhD at Northwestern University in the United States. I love the contradictions and tensions of the period: a society and culture in transition from what we call medieval understandings and worldviews to what we see as more modern ones. These are some of the books that helped to fuel my passion for Renaissance Italian history and to answer some of my questions about what life was really like in Renaissance Italy.

Nicholas' book list on exploring what what Renaissance Italy was really like

Nicholas Scott Baker Why did Nicholas love this book?

When we think of the Renaissance, we often think of the names of famous artists or writers and the lives of governors of Italian cities.

In this book, Sarah Ross argues for the existence of "everyday renaissances," demonstrating that an interest in and concern of classical antiquity permeated far deeper into the social strata than we previously understood. She demonstrates how classical education and literature mattered to ordinary men and women of the artisanal and mercantile classes, perhaps even more than it did to members of the cultural elite.

She argues that even the most tangential association with culture and learning could help social mobility. I think this is a fascinating examination of how apparently elite cultural concerns can matter to ordinary people and be mobilized by them.

By Sarah Gwyneth Ross,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Everyday Renaissances as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The world of wealth and patronage that we associate with sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Italy can make the Renaissance seem the exclusive domain of artists and aristocrats. Revealing a Renaissance beyond Michelangelo and the Medici, Sarah Gwyneth Ross recovers the experiences of everyday men and women who were inspired to pursue literature and learning.

Ross draws on a trove of original unpublished sources-wills, diaries, household inventories, account books, and other miscellany-to reconstruct the lives of over one hundred artisans, merchants, and others on the middle rung of Venetian society who embraced the ennobling virtues of a humanistic education. These men…


Book cover of The Mask of Aribella

Nancy McConnell Author Of Into the Lion's Mouth

From my list on kids traveling to Italy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I fell in love with Italy when I traveled there with my family in 2013. While touring through this fascinating country, I felt inspired to write about it. When I came home, I threw myself into research. That research spawned my debut novel, Into the Lion’s Mouth, which is set in Renaissance Venice. I am always on the lookout for all things Italian, podcasts, TV shows, and definitely books. Since middle grade is my sweet spot, I am a sucker for a middle grade book set in Italy. Here are some of my favorites that will have you browsing airplane tickets to Italy and beyond.

Nancy's book list on kids traveling to Italy

Nancy McConnell Why did Nancy love this book?

Here’s another magical adventure that has such potential to be a series. Set in a Venice that is full of actual magic this book will appeal to the Harry Potter lovers in your life. Aribella must use her newly found magic to save the city from a grim future at the hands of the villain Zio. Although a fantastical Venice there are plenty of true-to-life details like the Lion’s Mouth, gondolas, and a ruling doge. I really loved the twists at the end. Middle grade readers will be captivated. 

By Anna Hoghton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Mask of Aribella as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Perfect for fans of The Thief Lord!

Aribella
lives in Venice, the daughter of an impoverished lace-maker.
But she has a deadly secret: when angered, sparks shoot from her
fingertips. Unable to keep her power hidden, she flees - but when
dark spectres rise from the lagoon, the fire in her hands saves
her life. A stranger witnesses the attack - and through him, Aribella
leaves her old life behind and discovers the world of the Cannovacci,
magical warriors sworn to defeat the strange spectres menacing
the city ...

WINNER of the North Somerset Teachers'
Quality Fiction Award 2020


Book cover of The Merchant of Venice

Cyril Demaria Author Of Introduction to Private Equity, Debt and Real Assets: From Venture Capital to LBO, Senior to Distressed Debt, Immaterial to Fixed Assets

From my list on private equity in practice and peek behind the scenes.

Why am I passionate about this?

The financing of private firms is fascinating and a bit mysterious. It remains misunderstood and regularly gives birth to hype and excesses. I started my career working for a venture capital fund at the top of the Internet financial bubble, in 2000. This experience has imprinted my career and derailed my ambitions. It also fueled my thirst for knowledge. I started from essentially a virgin theoretical and academic land. I developed a body of practical and academic knowledge. Writing and publishing my books seemed to be the next logical step. I enjoy reading books on the sector and recommending them.

Cyril's book list on private equity in practice and peek behind the scenes

Cyril Demaria Why did Cyril love this book?

It might seem odd, but there is no real better book than this one to illustrate the challenges of private equity. I use it as an example in my training sessions regularly.

The Merchant of Venice is not only one of the best plays on finance and ethics, but also the perfect illustration of the challenges of start-up investing before it became a profession. This play illustrates how venture financing differs in practice from bank financing. It also conveys the uncertainties associated with entrepreneurship, and how some capital providers are not able to take such a risk.

Shakespeare masters the art of contrasting the perspectives of an entrepreneur and a banker in a short and powerful format. It is a masterpiece and a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the philosophy of start-up investing. 

By William Shakespeare,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Merchant of Venice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In The Merchant of Venice, the path to marriage is hazardous. To win Portia, Bassanio must pass a test prescribed by her father’s will, choosing correctly among three caskets or chests. If he fails, he may never marry at all.

Bassanio and Portia also face a magnificent villain, the moneylender Shylock. In creating Shylock, Shakespeare seems to have shared in a widespread prejudice against Jews. Shylock would have been regarded as a villain because he was a Jew. Yet he gives such powerful expression to his alienation due to the hatred around him that, in many productions, he emerges as…


Book cover of Venice Is a Fish: A Sensual Guide

Meredith Small Author Of Inventing the World: Venice and the Transformation of Western Civilization

From my list on Venice (non-guidebooks).

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an anthropologist who became attached to Venice after spending time in Italian language school there and returning over and over, often staying for months. What tourists see is the superficial beauty of the city. But Venice is a place of incredible depth and complexity, both historically and today. During my many visits, I began to hear (on the street) and read (in museums) of the many inventions that happened in Venice. I soon started making a list and, with additional reading, this list grew to 220 inventions—such as quarantine and the paperback book—and realized how much we owe to Venice for how we navigate the world today.

Meredith's book list on Venice (non-guidebooks)

Meredith Small Why did Meredith love this book?

Venice is a Fish is the book to carry to Venice so that you can sit in a campo somewhere (or at a café with a spritz) and read it during your stay. A funny, fun, and informative book about Venice as it is now, as well as over its long history. Then you can follow in the book’s footsteps and go for a walk and get lost.

By Tiziano Scarpa,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Venice Is a Fish as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Every year, hundreds of books on the city are published, but none resembles this one' - Independent

'This gem of a book offers practical advice but in a distinctly lyrical tone. If you are lucky enough to be going there, take Venice is a Fish and you will want for nothing' - Sunday Telegraph

Built on an inverted forest, paved with a tortoiseshell of boulders, Venice is a maze of tiny alleys, bridges and squares. Tiziano Scarpa wanders through the city, recounting the customs and secrets that only Venetians know. With everything from practical advice for aspiring Venetian lovers to…


Book cover of The Venetian Empire: A Sea Voyage

Roger Crowley Author Of Empires of the Sea: The Final Battle for the Mediterranean, 1521-1580

From my list on the Mediterranean world.

Why am I passionate about this?

The Mediterranean is in my family’s history. My dad was a naval officer who worked in the sea in peace and war and took us to Malta when I was nine. I was entranced by the island’s history, by an evocative sensory world of sunlight, brilliant seas, and antiquity. I’ve been travelling in this sea ever since, including a spell living in Turkey, and delved deep into its past, its empires, and its maritime activity. I’m the author of three books on the subject: Constantinople: the Last Great Siege, Empires of the Sea, and Venice: City of Fortune.

Roger's book list on the Mediterranean world

Roger Crowley Why did Roger love this book?

Jan Morris, who writes as elegantly as anyone about Venice, conducts us on a historical cruise through its maritime empire – both a history and a travelogue. It’s a beguiling evocation of the Mediterranean that we all dream of. Venice at one time or another held Constantinople, Crete, Cyprus, the dotted islands of the Aegean and the coast of Dalmatia – an empire of forts, harbours, and naval bases, all badged with Venice’s corporate logo – the winged lion. In Morris’s hands it’s an invitation to sail immediately. Her book on Venice itself is excellent too.

By Jan Morris,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Venetian Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For six centuries the Republic of Venice was a maritime empire, its sovereign power extending throughout much of the eastern Mediterranean - an empire of coasts, islands and isolated fortresses by which, as Wordsworth wrote, the mercantile Venetians 'held the gorgeous east in fee'.

Jan Morris reconstructs the whole of this glittering dominion in the form of a sea-voyage, travelling along the historic Venetian trade routes from Venice itself to Greece, Crete and Cyprus. It is a traveller's book, geographically arranged but wandering at will from the past to the present, evoking not only contemporary landscapes and sensations but also…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Italy, Venice, and marriage?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Italy, Venice, and marriage.

Italy Explore 370 books about Italy
Venice Explore 67 books about Venice
Marriage Explore 120 books about marriage