Wednesday, February 22, 2012
"Vivaldi's Virgins" is a daring historical novel set in the 18th century in Vivaldi's Venice. It is the story of Anna Maria Dal Violin, an orphan whose amazing voice and talent mesmerize Vivaldi, known as "The Red Priest", who starts composing just for her.
Anna Maria struggles to find the identity of the mother that abandoned her at Ospedale della Pieta, writing letters to her from the convent, without knowing if she is alive or not. These letters offer us a glimpse into the Venice of the 1700s, with its mysterious people hidden behind masks, cruel nuns, naughty girls who escape from the convent just to go to the opera and who feel enthralled just to ride in a gondola.
“The sky on a clear night is a living, pulsating thing. The stars are like musical notes turned to light, and, like notes, they shimmer and swell and fade and fall. The painters have never captured it—but they never will until some painter teaches his colors to dance.”
If you are interested in knowing if Anna Maria finally discovered who her mother was, then you must read the novel. What is more appealing is the fact that Anna Maria actually existed, and Barbara Quick spent a few weeks in Venice back in 2005 doing research on her. If you want to read more about her experience, go here.
I enjoyed the story quite a lot, since it depicted Venice in a daring way, just as I see it and it also reminded me of Sarah Dunant's "In the Company of the Courtesan", a book I simply loved.
Read for Venice in February Reading Challenge, European Reading Challenge and New Authors Challenge.
P.S. Santa Maria della Pieta is now open to accommodate pilgrims, in case you wish to visit Venice :)