The Glassmaker US cover

glass beadsVenice in 1486 is a wealthy, opulent centre for trade. Across the lagoon lies Murano. Time flows differently here — like the glass the island’s maestros spend their lives learning to handle. Women are not meant to work with glass, but Orsola Rosso flouts convention to save her family from ruin.  She works in secret, knowing her creations must be perfect to be accepted by men. But perfection may take a lifetime.

Skipping like a stone through the centuries, we follow Orsola as she hones her craft of Murano and its maestros to the transformation of the city of trade into a city of tourists. Orsola’s glass beads will adorn the necks of empresses and courtesans from Paris to Vienna — but will she ever earn the respect of those closest to her?



A man came up to me after a reading once and said, “You should write about Venetian glass trade beads. There are wonderful stories about them.” He handed me some booklets and disappeared. I glanced briefly at them, then put them on my bookshelves and forgot about them…until years later I was thinking about what I would write next, and his words came back to me. I dug out the booklets and began reading. Once I discovered that Venetian beads were made primarily by women at kitchen tables in their spare time, I knew I would write about them.

In 2020 UNESCO gave glass beads Intangible Cultural Heritage status. The 2 videos below — a short one in English, a longer one in French — illustrate the many aspects of beadmaking.



Tracy Chevalier’s exceptional novel hopscotches through five centuries of a glassblowing family in Murano, Italy. Time moves forward, but the characters age very little. Chevalier’s descriptive prose on glassmaking artistry, together with her delightful characters, creates an entrancing tale. —Christian Science Monitor

Chevalier weaves a tapestry of character and conflict, change and stability, to create a story that elegantly glides along the line between historical drama and something more experimental, while never losing sight of the tactile humanity that gives her work such pure, invigorating life...a potent, bewitching bright spot in a stellar career." —

Un régal [A delight]—Le Parisien

Un roman très réussi, romanesque, et d'une grande richesse historique [very successful, romantic, and with an historical richness] —Le Matin Dimanche

Elle dessine une fresque étincelante de l’industrie de la verrerie et de l’histoire de Venise. Et brosse le portrait d’une héroïne universelle et intemporelle [Chevalier draws a sparkling fresco of the glass industry and of the history of Venice, and paints the portrait of a universal, timeless heroine]—Le Figaro

 n texte évocateur et merveilleusement écrit, qui donne envie deflâner dans les ruelles de Murano à la recherche d'Orsola! [Evocative and beautifully written, it makes you want to wander through the passageways of Murano in search of the heroine Orsola]—teleZ

Son nouvel opus, sensible et fascinant, est un bijou [sensitive and fascinating...a jewel]—Femina

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Site design: Kim Chevalier