Monday, December 14, 2009

REVIEW: Vivaldi's Virgins by Barbara Quick

FROM AMAZON “Abandoned as an infant, fourteen-year-old Anna Maria dal Violin is one of the elite musicians living in the foundling home where the "Red Priest," Antonio Vivaldi, is maestro and composer. Fiercely determined to find out where she came from, Anna Maria embarks on a journey of self-discovery that carries her into a wondrous and haunting world of music and spectacle, bringing eighteenth-century Venice magically to life.”

This was yet another book I picked up from the library to fulfill the requirements of a challenge. I was surprised with a decent fast paced historical fiction novel with a rather spunky protagonist. Anna Maria is orphaned as an infant and is brought up in the Pieta where her musical talent with the Violin is recognized and Vivaldi eventually becomes her Maestro. Even though many of the girls in the book have been abandoned here, some do know their parentage but were given up for a variety of reasons, from destitute mothers to those who are noble bastards. The highlight of this book are Anna Maria and the girls at the Pieta-spunky Marietta who uses her cleverness to attain a good marriage with a noble family, Guilietta-Anna Maria’s best friend who runs away and marries a painter, Bernardina-Anna Maria’s half blind rival. They all made for interesting reading. Throughout the novel Anna Maria constantly gets into mischief and delays her promotions in the Coro (choir) while trying to discover the identity of her mother and where she came from-a search which is inspired by a locket that comes into her possession.

I would call this book a bit predictable as I figured out who Anna Maria’s mother was way before the book ended but it was still an entertaining story. Unfortunately, as I know squat about Venice during this time period I can’t attest to the historical accuracy of this book so I don’t know if the purists will enjoy it or not.

As for Mr. Vivaldi, I like some classical music but have a VERY limited knowledge of it. I knew the name Vivaldi but couldn’t place any of his compositions so I googled “Four Seasons” which is his most famous work and recognized it instantly as it began to play. I dug up a little more information on the Italian Maestro and discovered that he was really underappreciated and didn’t become extremely popular until the 1960’s! Wow, was that a long time in coming. In any event, the book has inspired me to bone up on my classical music :)

If the FTC is wondering: I got this book from the library

1 comment:

  1. Hi Holly,

    What a lovely review! I'm so glad you enjoyed VIVALDI'S VIRGINS. Did you get a chance to visit my website? There's lots of background information and some music you can download there (in case you'd like to listen to some more of the compositions Vivaldi wrote for the orphans and foundlings of the Pieta).

    I have a new historical novel, A GOLDEN WEB, coming out from HarperTeen on April 6, based on a really beautiful, inspiring heroine who lived and studied in 14th century Bologna. Let me know if you'd like to do an author interview when the pub date gets closer.

    All best wishes,