Wednesday, August 03, 2011 Posted by Dina N
In glittering 18th-century Venice, music and love are prized above all else—and for two sisters coming of age, the city’s passions blend in intoxicating ways.
Chiaretta and Maddalena are as different as night and day. The two sisters were abandoned as babies on the steps of the Ospedale della Pietà, Venice’s world-famous foundling hospital and musical academy, where they soon came to wear the “P” for “Pietà” branded on their heels.
High-spirited and rebellious, Chiaretta develops into a dazzling singer, rising quickly in the ranks of the renowned Pietà choir to become a celebrated soloist. Her more reserved older sister, Maddalena, takes up the violin as her life’s calling and forms a dangerous bond with her violin instructor, the controversial red-haired priest — and suspected womanizer — Antonio Vivaldi. The Pietà’s resident composer, he is inspired by their female musicians to create his famous masterpiece, The Four Seasons. As Maddalena becomes a violin virtuoso and Vivaldi’s muse, Chiaretta marries into a great aristocratic Venetian family and eventually becomes one of the most powerful women in all of Venice.
I fell in love with Ms. Corona's writing when I read Finding Emilie in April. I put Four Seasons, The: A Novel of Vivaldi's Venice on my to-read list because it combines three of my favorite things: good fiction, classical music, and the city of Venice. To me, Venice is one of the most magical places I've ever seen. I was enchanted by the story of two orphaned sisters, Chiaretta and Maddalena, and by 18th century Venice. The two girls grow up among the nuns of the Pieta, the famous musical academy where their talents are nurtured and developed. The sisters are expected to devote their lives to music with all the limitations of living in a convent. They have very different personalities but are alike in their extraordinary talent for music. Music is what ultimately determines their fate. One of them remains at the Pieta while the other falls in love and leaves the sheltered life to marry a Venetian aristocrat. Despite the limitations of their times, Chiaretta and Maddalena manage to find love and fulfillment, albeit in very different ways.
Ms. Corona's vivid portrayal of life in 18th century Venice presents a perfect background to the memorable characters of two remarkable women. I was completely under her spell until the last page and I can't wait to read her future novels.
Disclaimer / Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book with no obligation for a positive review. No compensation - monetary or in kind - has been obtained for this post. Cover art and book description courtesy of the author, publisher or PR firm.