98 books like The Gondola Maker

By Laura Morelli,

Here are 98 books that The Gondola Maker fans have personally recommended if you like The Gondola Maker. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Silent Water

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?

One lingering effect of the Cold War is that many people in Europe and North America have little sense of the close ties that linked all parts of Europe in the sixteenth century. This well-written mystery set during the Polish Renaissance begins with the wedding of Bona Sforza to King Zygmunt of Poland and is told by Lady Caterina Sanseverino, a widow from Bari charged with keeping Bona’s ladies-in-waiting in line. A courtier is murdered at the royal family’s Christmas feast in 1519, and as the bodies pile up, Caterina becomes increasingly drawn into the hunt for the perpetrator. The mystery is well handled, but what sets this novel apart is the author’s gift for recreating a long-ago and little-known world. 

By P.K. Adams,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

It is Christmas 1519 and the royal court in Kraków is in the midst of celebrating the joyous season. Less than two years earlier, Italian noblewoman Bona Sforza arrived in Poland’s capital from Bari as King Zygmunt’s new bride. She came from Italy accompanied by a splendid entourage, including Contessa Caterina Sanseverino who oversees the ladies of the Queen’s Chamber.

Caterina is still adjusting to the life in this northern kingdom of cold winters, unfamiliar customs, and an incomprehensible language when a shocking murder rocks the court on Christmas night. It is followed by another a few days later. The…


Book cover of The Ringed Castle

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 book was my introduction to Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles. I picked it up at a library sale and was immediately caught up in its portrayal of Francis Crawford, a Scottish adventurer who ends up at the court of Ivan the Terrible. Based loosely on the diary of Sir Jerome Horsey, it represents an older understanding of how Muscovite Russia operated, but it’s a great adventure told with vivid details and remarkable characters, still my favorite among the six books in this series.

By Dorothy Dunnett,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

For the first time Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles are available in the United States in quality paperback editions.

Fifth in the legendary Lymond Chronicles, The Ringed Castle leaps from Mary Tudor's England to the barbaric Russia of Ivan the Terrible. Francis Crawford of Lymond moves to Muscovy, where he becomes advisor and general to the half-mad tsar. Yet even as Lymond tries to civilize a court that is still frozen in the attitudes of the Middle Ages, forces in England conspire to enlist this infinitely useful man in their own schemes.


Book cover of Faint Promise of Rain

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?

If Eastern and Central Europe are often ignored in historical fiction in the sixteenth century, that’s even more true of lands east of the Ural Mountains. This gorgeous study of Mughal India in the reigns of Emperor Humayun and his son Akbar charts the story of Adhira, a temple dancer in Rajasthan. Born during one of her homeland’s rare rainstorms, Adhira bears the weight of her father’s expectation that she will carry on the kathak tradition to which he has devoted his life. Through the story of Adhira and her brother Mahendra, Duva—herself a practitioner of kathak—plunges us into the highs and lows of temple life and reveals a deep understanding of the religious dance she portrays.

By Anjali Mitter Duva,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Faint Promise of Rain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shortlisted for the 2016 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing

It is 1554 in the desert of Rajasthan. On a rare night of rain, a daughter is born to a family of Hindu temple dancers just as India’s new Mughal Emperor Akbar sets his sights on their home, the fortress city of Jaisalmer, and the other Princely States around it.

Fearing a bleak future, Adhira’s father, the temple’s dance master—against his wife and sons’ protests—puts his faith in tradition and in his last child for each to save the other: he insists that Adhira is destined to “marry” the temple’s…


Book cover of Voyage to Muscovy

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 is the sixth book in a series that mostly does take place in Tudor England and even includes occasional glimpses of Elizabeth I and Will Shakespeare. But it mainly focuses on Christoval (Caterina, nicknamed Kit) Alvarez, the daughter of a Portuguese Jewish medical doctor who masquerades as a man so that she can practice medicine. In this adventure, set in 1590, Kit accompanies a group of English merchants to the court of Boris Godunov in Moscow and treats Prince Dmitry Ivanovich—the last son of Ivan the Terrible, who died suddenly at the age of nine, reputedly on Boris’s orders. I acted as historical consultant for this novel, and I can recommend it wholeheartedly as an engaging, well-written tale that can be enjoyed as a stand-alone.

By Ann Swinfen,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Voyage to Muscovy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An agent sent to Muscovy to investigate suspected treason amongst employees of the Muscovy Company has disappeared without trace on the way to Astrakhan. Sir Francis Walsingham, who began the investigation, is dead, but the directors of the Company know that the agent must be found, dead or alive.

The perfect opportunity comes when the Tsar, Emperor of All the Russias, asks for an English physician to treat his young half brother. Christoval Alvarez, physician and former Walsingham agent, is the obvious choice, but is loathe to travel to this violent and barbarous land. However, there is no withstanding some…


Book cover of Marriage Wars in Late Renaissance 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 accessible academic work brings to life the inner workings – and breakdowns – of marriages at a time when annulment was the only option. Through court and ecclesiastical proceedings and petitions written by both sexes, the lives of ordinary women – including sexual relations, domestic abuse, cheating, and financial problems are made even more real by the voices of friends, neighbors, and in-laws.

By Joanne M. Ferraro,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Marriage Wars in Late Renaissance Venice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Based on a fascinating body of previously unexamined archival material, this book brings to life the lost voices of ordinary Venetians during the age of Catholic revival. Looking at scripts that were brought to the city's ecclesiastical courts by spouses seeking to annul their marriage vows, this book opens up the emotional world of intimacy and conflict, sexuality, and living arrangments that did not fit normative models of marriage.


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 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 Entrepreneurial Families: Business, Marriage and Life in the Early Nineteenth Century

Siobhan Talbott Author Of Conflict, Commerce and Franco-Scottish Relations, 1560-1713

From my list on early-modern business history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I began my academic career working on political history until a chance conversation and a serendipitous find in an archive changed the direction of my doctoral research. Since then, I have become increasingly enmeshed in Business History, interested predominantly in the people that were at the heart of commercial activity. It is my belief that the landscape of business was – and is – shaped more by the people directly involved in it than by those making policy and devising international treaties. My current work – funded by an Arts and Humanities Research Council Leadership Fellowship – explores the ways in which information was created, disseminated, and utilised in early modern business networks.

Siobhan's book list on early-modern business history

Siobhan Talbott Why did Siobhan love this book?

While perhaps a little late to be truly classed as ‘early-modern’, Andrew Popp’s Entrepreneurial Families is one of the books that sparked my own interest in a social approach to business history. Revitalising the exploration of the role of families in business after Davidoff and Hall’s seminal 1987 study Family Fortunes, this micro-study primarily employs correspondence as its source. This not only allows Popp to explore the validity of this approach, but it also helps him to realise his aim to ‘re-humanise the economic’. The focus on family makes this work appealing not only to those interested in business history, but to those interested in debates about the public/private spheres, gender history, and kinship.

By Andrew Popp,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Entrepreneurship is increasingly being recognized as an important facet of economic history. Popp examines the Shaw family business to present a study of entrepreneurism that puts the family centre stage.


Book cover of The Key to Happily Ever After

Zara Raheem Author Of The Retreat

From my list on the powers of sisterhood.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always had a soft spot for books on sisterhood. Perhaps it’s because I have a sister, but it’s partly because I’ve also lucked out on wonderful girlfriends who’ve taken the role of sisters at various stages of my life. There is an immense power in female relationships, and it’s a theme I often explore through my writing. Both my novels, The Marriage Clock and The Retreat center around strong women who consistently and generously show up for each other. I’ve compiled a list of books to celebrate the many sisters in our lives—through blood and friendship. I hope you find them as enjoyable to read as I have!

Zara's book list on the powers of sisterhood

Zara Raheem Why did Zara love this book?

As someone perpetually in search of a good romcom, I found this story of three sisters who have inherited their family’s wedding planning business delightful.

While there is no shortage of spats and disagreements as each sister attempts to define her role within the business and family, when disaster strikes, it’s lovely to see them rally together and help each other find her own happily ever after. 

By Tif Marcelo,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Key to Happily Ever After as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of BuzzFeed's "Books Coming Out This Summer That You Need to Seriously Read" * One of Bustle's "New Romance Novels to Make Your Spring Reading Even Dreamier Than You Imagined"

A charming romantic comedy about three sisters who are struggling to keep the family wedding planning business afloat-all the while trying to write their own happily-ever-afters in the process.

All's fair in love and business.

The de la Rosa family and their wedding planning business have been creating happily ever afters in the Washington, DC area for years, making even the most difficult bride's day a fairytale. But when…


Book cover of The Prince of Steel Pier

Jacqueline Jules Author Of My Name Is Hamburger

From my list on middle school reads with Jewish American characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the author of over fifty books for young readers including the Zapato Power series, the Sofia Martinez series, Duck for Turkey Day, Unite or Die: How Thirteen States Became a Nation, Never Say a Mean Word Again, Tag Your Dreams: Poems of Play and Persistence, and The Porridge-Pot Goblin. Many of my books were inspired by my students during my days as a school librarian. Other books were inspired by my work as a Jewish educator in synagogue settings. I read voraciously and review for the Sydney Taylor Shmooze, an online blog about Jewish books.

Jacqueline's book list on middle school reads with Jewish American characters

Jacqueline Jules Why did Jacqueline love this book?

The Prince of Steel Pier begins with a line which immediately grabbed my attention: “It’s nine o’clock on Friday morning and Mrs. Goldberg is definitely dead.”

Joey, the main character, is on vacation in Atlantic City and helping out at his grandparents’ hotel. He is a self-conscious boy who  wants to prove to his big Jewish family that he is more than a “squirt.” Along the way he gets himself into unexpected trouble with mobsters in Atlantic City.

Set during the 1970’s, this book features an endearing protagonist navigating adolescence to learn what family and Jewish tradition mean to him. I particularly enjoyed Joey’s honesty as he observes his own behavior and struggles to create a new self-image. 

By Stacy Nockowitz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A young teen falls in with the mob, and learns a lesson about what kind of person he wants to be


In The Prince of Steel Pier, Joey Goodman is spending the summer at his grandparents’ struggling hotel in Atlantic City, a tourist destination on the decline. Nobody in Joey’s big Jewish family takes him seriously, so when Joey’s Skee-Ball skills land him an unusual job offer from a local mobster, he’s thrilled to be treated like “one of the guys,” and develops a major crush on an older girl in the process. Eventually disillusioned by the mob’s bravado, and…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Italy, Venice, and the Renaissance?

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 the Renaissance.

Italy Explore 380 books about Italy
Venice Explore 68 books about Venice
The Renaissance Explore 93 books about the Renaissance