“But when nothing spiritual remains, what is left to man but the worship of vanity? Lord Vanity rules our present world.”
Richard Morandi (also known as Richard Hammond) is the illegitimate son of an English lord who lives in Venice with his ballerina mother. He makes his living as an actor and musician, but when he stabs a Venetian of greater rank in self-defense – an act considered both cowardly and unmannerly – he is condemned to life as a galley slave and is severed from all he knows. When unexpectedly freed, he begins a new series of adventures first in London and later Bath, the American colonies, Canada, and Paris. Unclear about who is he and what he wants to be, he dabbles in many guises – a soldier, a gentleman, an opportunist seeking power and position – all the while feeling dissatisfied with his life and struggling to find a unifying principle.
Samuel Shellabarger was raised by his grandparents and traveled extensively, later drawing a goldmine of material from his travels to use in his novels. The portrait he paints of mid-eighteenth century Europe is so authentic that the reader may become frighteningly immersed in the customs of the times – unconsciously making sweeping bows to surprised guests, reaching for a jeweled snuff box and adjusting a hose buckle, or imagining French and Italian phrases rolling around the tongue longing to be expressed.
A great escape. A satisfying love story. Educational. Historical fiction at its finest.