Caprice and Rondo
The Seventh Book of the House of Niccolo
By Dorothy Dunnett
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780375706127, 576pp.)
Publication Date: July 27, 1999
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With the bravura storytelling and pungent authenticity of detail she brought to her acclaimed Lymond Chronicles, Dorothy Dunnett, grande dame of the historical novel, presents The House of Niccolò series. The time is the 15th century, when intrepid merchants became the new knighthood of Europe. Among them, none is bolder or more cunning than Nicholas vander Poele of Bruges, the good-natured dyer's apprentice who schemes and swashbuckles his way to the helm of a mercantile empire.
Winter 1474 finds Nicholas exiled in the frozen port of Danzig, Poland. His Machiavellian exploits in Scotland have cost him friends and family--not to mention countless riches. As the ice melts, temptations arise. Will he assist the Muslim Prince Uzum Hasan against the Turks? Will he lose himself among the secret, scented gardens of the Crimea in the arms of a close friend's bride? As Nicholas pursues his future, his estranged wife, Gelis, seeks the truth about his past, only to discover the secret identity of his latest comrade in arms--a tantalizing ghost from the past poised to deal him the crowning death blow.
Shimmering with detail, alive with intrigue, Caprice and Rondo is Dorothy Dunnett's quicksilver evocation of a world where joy is fleeting, love is unexpected, and truth the rarest commodity of all.
Dorothy Dunnett was born in 1923 in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland. Her time at Gillespie's High School for Girls overlapped with that of the novelist Muriel Spark. From 1940-1955, she worked for the Civil Service as a press officer. In 1946, she married Alastair Dunnett, later editor of The Scotsman.
Dunnett started writing in the late 1950s. Her first novel, The Game of Kings, was published in the United States in 1961, and in the United Kingdom the year after. She published 22 books in total, including the six-part Lymond Chronicles and the eight-part Niccolo Series, and co-authored another volume with her husband. Also an accomplished professional portrait painter, Dunnett exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy on many occasions and had portraits commissioned by a number of prominent public figures in Scotland.
She also led a busy life in public service, as a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Library of Scotland, a Trustee of the Scottish National War Memorial, and Director of the Edinburgh Book Festival. She served on numerous cultural committees, and was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In 1992 she was awarded the Office of the British Empire for services to literature. She died on November 9, 2001, at the age of 78.
"Dazzling--dense, intelligent and subtle--Dunnett has fashioned a vast tale firmly set in her grasp of the early Renaissance world." --Newsday
"Tantalizing--fascinating--a remarkable variety of situations present the reader with complex and volatile imaginings.....The finest living writer of historical fiction." --The Washington Post Book World