Book Three of the Grazia Trilogy
Written by Jacqueline Park with Gilbert Reid
House of Anansi Press, 2019
About the Book
Son of Two Fathers is a romantic adventure set in the Italian Renaissance, Venice, Rome, and Istanbul, in 1536-1443. Danilo del Medigo is the handsome, dashing son of an aristocratic Christian warrior, Pirro Gonzaga, and a beautiful Jewish intellectual, Grazia dei Rossi, secretary to the brilliant Isabella d’Este. Against all his best instincts, Danilo is swept up in the great political conflicts of the day. Navigating the turmoil, Danilo also finds himself delightfully but perilously entangled with some of the most accomplished, high-spirited, and seductive women of the 16th Century.
“A dazzling kaleidoscope of vivid characters and settings”
— David Calderisi
Son of Two Fathers can be read without reading the other two volumes of Jacqueline Park’s Grazia Trilogy which began with The Secret Book of Grazia dei Rossi, and continued with The Legacy of Grazia dei Rossi. In fact, Son of Two Fathers serves as an excellent introduction to the backstory of Danilo’s life as a boy and to the life of his extraordinary and heroic mother, Grazia dei Rossi.
In April 1536, twenty-year-old Danilo del Medigo arrives incognito in Venice, on the eve of Passover. Pursued by Ottoman assassins, the merciless Men in Black, Danilo fled Istanbul, leaving behind his secret lover, Princess Saida, the favorite daughter of Suleiman the Magnificent. When Danilo enters the Ghetto Nuovo — the first Jewish ghetto to be established in Venice — his new adventures immediately begin. The first person he casts eyes on is beautiful, mischievous, talented Miriamne Hazan, daughter of the Ghetto’s leader, Rabbi Hazan. Danilo is immediately divided — between his impossible love for Princess Saida, and his sudden attraction to this young Jewish beauty. But things quickly get more complicated. Still hunted by the Men in Black, Danilo is thrust into the intricacies of European and Ottoman politics; his story becomes entwined with the huge political and military events — the plots and counterplots, espionage and counter-espionage — of the violent, creative, libertine, religiously-obsessed world of the 1530s and 40s. Islam and Suleiman are poised to conquer Europe; Christendom is plunging into a Catholic-Protestant civil war; and the Catholic Inquisition and persecution threaten Jews and “New Christians” — Jews converted to Catholicism — everywhere. Danilo’s story is also the story of the great Republic of Venice, independent at this point for 1000 years, and its efforts to survive in a rapidly changing world, with threats on all sides. It is the story of the Jews and New Christians and their efforts to escape the Inquisition and persecution and death. And it is the story of the Ottoman Empire’s efforts, under Suleiman the Magnificent, father of Danilo’s lover Princess Saida, to conquer Europe and Christendom for Islam. Danilo is present at the birth of the Europe we know today.
Reviews and Criticism of Son of Two Fathers
“Gilbert Reid is the perfect collaborator on Son of Two Fathers, the final volume of the late Jacqueline Park’s bestselling Grazia dei Rossi trilogy. As Jackie’s friend and collaborator, Reid shared her passion for historical fiction and adds his own deep knowledge of Italian history and culture, while embellishing the story with ribald humor, scandalous intrigue, and page-turning drama.”
— Sandra Martin, author of A Good Death
“Danilo is a strong, forceful, complicated character. But he is not the dominant character in the book, nor even the main character. He shares the stage, so to speak, with a number of equally strong, exciting, resolute, courageous women who also dare to effect their own destinies. Indeed, despite its title, Son of Two Fathers is as much about the strength and wisdom of women as it is about him. … But other women of considerable humanity, idealism and courage play pivotal roles in helping Danilo navigate through the ubiquitous treachery, intrigue, deceit and violence. Son of Two Fathers offers readers a great deal. It has many thrilling moments laden with suspense, scalding tension, and unpredicted twists and turns of plot. It also provides thoughtful explorations and mini dissertations on subjects as diverse as visual art, theater art, philosophy, political history, and Jewish history. Readers interested in history will enjoy this book. Readers interested in Jewish history will delight in it.”
— Mordecai Ben-Det, The Canadian Jewish News | Read the full review
“This epic suspenseful love story set in the 1500s in Venice is filled with the dangerously wicked intrigue and counter-intrigue of the times seen through the eyes of our hero, Danilo, as he negotiates his perilous way through volatile political and cultural landscapes, between Venice, Rome, Istanbul, as all of Europe is under threat of the Catholic Inquisition, often meaning death or exile for Jews and ‘New Christians’ — Jews who had ostensibly converted to Catholicism but whose faith was questioned by the Church. This book is filled with delicious atmosphere, texture, and most importantly, historical context … It is a rich tapestry of history, intrigue, and, of course, love.”
— Lynne Deragon, actress
“The best thing about the best of historic fiction is the way it engages the reader in a great story while at the same time illustrating actual historic incidents and relationships with which the reader might not have been familiar. With that as a measuring stick, Son of Two Fathers is a major accomplishment. Gilbert Reid and Jacqueline Park have produced a dazzling kaleidoscope of vivid characters and settings that I most heartily recommend as the perfect summer companion for anyone with a taste for adventure and romance. This is a meticulously researched narrative that will both engage you as a great love story as well as throw new light on your appreciation of a stupendous period of human history — a pivotal time when East and West teetered on the boundary.”
— David Calderisi, director, actor