There are many good reasons to choose a book, but doing so because the author shares his name with one of my favourite fictional characters is probably not one of them. Nevertheless, in this case it had a happy outcome. I stumbled across Stradella (1909) about a week ago, while looking for historical novels set in Venice to complement my visit to the Carnevale. I knew nothing about Francis Marion Crawford (although he was evidently very distinguished in his day) and so wasn’t expecting much. What I discovered was a charming historical romance which proved to be perfect material for holiday reading: undemanding, easy to dip into, and full of Baroque swashbuckling, love and intrigue.