There might be a spoiler in this review, depending on how you look at it.
It is 1755. Jacques Casanova escaped from prison in Venice and finds himself in Paris with his valet, Petrine. As much as he loves Venice, filled with his favourite childhood memories, he knows he can’t return, so he seeks refuge from his brother, Francesco. His escape is not his only cause for concern, but he is also in debt and can barely afford to pay his valet, yet Petrine stays by his master. Is Petrine loyal or is there another reason why he stays put?
Casanova, at least the cliché that we are aware of, is a word we bestow on a man who loves his ladies, has various affairs with different women and by all means that is the same Casanova we find in this book. However, Jacques Casanova in this book, has been portrayed as much more than that. In the beginning of the novel you do get to read about that part of him. Jacques starts an affair with his brother’s wife, Dominique and the love scenes I find was tastefully done. You won’t get any 50 Shades of Grey from this (I haven’t read it, but based on what I heard it’s rather kinky), but you will get to read about the sensuality of their sexual encounters.
Jacques met several people through his brother who led him on an adventure throughout Europe for “a treasure of inestimable value”. This is where the adventure and mystery aspect of the novel comes in. As they set out to discover the treasure, by means of a finding clues and a treasure map, they meet with many misfortunes. In the end, Jacques is the only one that’s left to discover the treasure that was spoken of. It was not what he expected, but what he found served as his spiritual awakening.
Jacques I find to be an interesting character in this book. I myself had the clichéd view of who he was, but I saw growth in him throughout the novel, which I loved. Especially the part where Jacques falls hopelessly in love, maybe for the first time in his life? He is an adventurer, a lover and a philosopher. For most parts I enjoyed the book and “most parts” include the beginning of the novel and towards the ending of the novel. Somewhere around the middle I lost interest, but that picked up when we got closer to finding the treasure. I wanted to know what it was! The ending might not be what the reader would want, but it was what I expected. Overall, I’d say if you like historical fiction and adventure novels, this one gives you both and you’d probably enjoy it.