This book tells the story of George Cautley, a painter seeking to make his fortune in 17th century London. In the course of his London adventures, Cautley encounters the mysterious, veiled Lady Beauclair who, while posing for him, tells the story of Tristano, an Italian castrato. The two stories have points of intersection leading toward a surprise ending.
This report prepared by Deidre Woollard
Walker, Nov 2002, 26.00, 448 pp.
Almost seventy and needing a walking stick to stay erect, artist George Cautley finds the attention of the eighteen year old boy he dubs Ganymede quite interesting even when the lad is more astonished at the portrait of Lady Beauclair. George tells the lad that the beauty was also dubbed “monstrous crime”. Ganymede needs to hear her story so an amused George agrees to tell all he knows about the lovely lady he painted several decades ago.
George explains that his fortune dramatically improved when he painted a portrait of sophisticated Lady Beauclair, who remits payment by telling him the tragic story of Tristano, who performed years earlier as a member of the Handel Opera Company. As Cautley meets others through his acquaintance with Lady Beauclair, he hears their stories. As he learns about the secret world of the Milan opera houses, George realizes that he might be the modern Tristano as his life begins to parallel that of the singer.
Fans of eighteenth century European historicals will fully relish the depth of detail provided by Ross King in DOMINO. The plot loosely ties together the stories narrated by several characters while providing strong look at high society following the "South Sea Bubble" financial scandal that destroyed many fortunes. Though quite revealing of a world filled with duplicity and well written the over packed story line feels at times like standing room only at a Milan opera house or sardines in a can as there is no breathing room. Still sub-genre fans will appreciate this powerful period piece that makes the latter half of the eighteenth century come vividly alive.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner