A portrait of Venice, but with a twist

Mary Hoffman Stravaganza (Bloomsbury, October, &#163;10.99, 0747555338)</p><p>
Mary Hoffman writes for older readers in her latest novel, which describes how Lucien, a young boy seriously ill with cancer, finds himself travelling in time and space to Bellezza, a strange city that seems to echo 16th-century Venice. In this parallel world he befriends a girl, Arianna, and discovers a circle of danger and intrigue surrounding the beautiful but ruthless ruler, the Duchessa.</p><p>
"I have a long love affair with Italy; my family joke that I have Italian DNA secretly hidden in a fair-skin...

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