Book Review: “The Silent Gondoliers” by S. Morgenstern (William Goldman) (1983)

“Luigi…had no real hopes of thrilling the world; all he truly prayed for was that it would stop laughing at him…” (p.70)

And such is the theme of this modern fable by the same author who wrote the timeless classic, The Princess Bride. Set along the waterways of Venice, The Silent Gondoliers is truly a refreshing story about a man whose biggest dream in life has been forever blocked by his own, unshakable faults. Despite his being the greatest gondola oarsman Venice has ever known, Luigi lacks the second most important skill that all gondoliers must absolutely possess: he cannot sing worth a dime. And so Morgenstern (Goldman) takes his readers on a journey of sorrow, hope, laughter, and disappointment–and even a little mystery–as Luigi chases his ultimate dream of singing his lungs out, singing his heart out, singing his soul out on the Grand Canal of Venice.

S. Morgenstern has a very unique writing style, at once for children, but then not really for children at all. He writes this fable as journalist who has traveled every length of the world in order to research the accuracy of his story, and the “facts” he discovers become the very heart of his story. Though he peppers his fable with the occasional “bad word,” Morgenstern has provided us with yet another little book some Peter-Faulk-like grandfather could easily read to his sick grandson, though this time with less kissing. With the occasional rabbit trail to keep his reader’s attention struck, Morgenstern proves that all it takes to make a great book is a good story and an absolute love for telling it.

©2011 E.T.

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