Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Violinist of Venice: A Story of Vivaldi by Alyssa Palombo Review

"A sweeping historical novel of composer and priest Antonio Vivaldi, a secret wealthy mistress, and their passion for music and each other 

Like most 18th century Venetians, Adriana d'Amato adores music-except her strict merchant father has forbidden her to cultivate her gift for the violin. But she refuses to let that stop her from living her dreams and begins sneaking out of her family's palazzo under the cover of night to take violin lessons from virtuoso violinist and composer Antonio Vivaldi. However, what begins as secret lessons swiftly evolves into a passionate, consuming love affair.

Adriana's father is intent on seeing her married to a wealthy, prominent member of Venice's patrician class-and a handsome, charming suitor, whom she knows she could love, only complicates matters-but Vivaldi is a priest, making their relationship forbidden in the eyes of the Church and of society. They both know their affair will end upon Adriana's marriage, but she cannot anticipate the events that will force Vivaldi to choose between her and his music. The repercussions of his choice-and of Adriana's own choices-will haunt both of their lives in ways they never imagined.

Spanning more than 30 years of Adriana's life, Alyssa Palombo's The Violinist of Venice is a story of passion, music, ambition, and finding the strength to both fall in love and to carry on when it ends."

The movie, Shakespeare In Love, is what I'm instantly reminded of thanks to this book. (The movie has a rating of R, so younger kids, please don't watch it unless parents are okay with it.) It's Romeo and Juliet basically. Adriana and Antonio Vivaldi are the star-crossed lovers in this case, and they are absolutely forbidden to be together. Vivaldi is a priest, bound by the very vows of priesthood. Adriana is a wealthy heiress who is to be married off to the next rich suitor at her father's wishes. 

Adriana lives in a world where a woman doesn't have choices. She has to listen to her husband, father, etc. When she disappears to seek Vivaldi for violin lessons, she no longer listens to anyone and has her own agenda. It's her secret, and she makes choices (for perhaps the first time in her entire life). The book covers more than 30 years of her life, and Adriana changes from the quick and gifted teenager in the beginning of the story to a more wise and patient lady in the end of the book. I guess you can call this the ultimate Coming of Age (and Beyond) story. 

The plot is largely driven by two plots. The romance is much stronger and demanding in the beginning of the novel while Adriana's own character arc and arising maturity gives into the limelight around the middle of the book and continues onto the ending. I enjoy the romance plot with its fire, chemistry, forbiddenness, and longing. It's so beautiful, and I'm severely tempted to write a fix-it fanfiction. But like Romeo and Juliet, readers know the ending and these two lovers will never be together in the end. The subtleness of the romance later in the book... It's so gorgeous. You have to read it to understand it, but I'll try to paint a picture. 

Just imagine two violins across the room, having a duet together. Even though they are far apart, they are singing together, just trying to be together in some way. That is Adriana and Antonio. (Now you see why I'm wishing they got together?) 

The world building takes us back to the olden days. Though the book doesn't dive too deeply into the world of the 18th century (unfortunately), there's enough to get some feelings of Romeo and Juliet and Venice and romance and music all rolled into one. Still, it would be nice to know a little more about the context. On the other hand, we have Antonio, who is actually a real person in that time, and the author has a very interesting take on his character. It's also nice to see a light lit on Vivaldi. (Mozart has always been more popular.)  

In conclusion, The Violinist of Venice is a wonderful story that encourages readers to fall in love with the book. Romance, music, and the taste of the forbidden. This is definitely for those who love the story star-crossed lovers with a bittersweet ending. 

Rating: Four out of Five

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