Rich in history, color, and imagination, a remarkable novel that pairs the seductive lost world of a creative legend with the coming of age of a young girl guided by an artistry all her own
In Barbara Quick’s luminous novel, 18th-century Venice comes to life in all its splendor and decadence. The Grand Inquisitor’s spies lurk everywhere, and yet the city’s inhabitants abandon themselves to the revelry and masques of Carnival for half the year. This is the world as seen beyond the barred windows of her cloister by 14-year-old Anna Maria dal Violin, one of the orphan musicians of the Ospedale della Pietà, where Antonio Vivaldi is resident priest and composer.
Anna Maria is inspired to ever greater musical achievement by Vivaldi, who is as famous for his flouting of the rules as for his flaming red hair. Both the adolescent Anna Maria, writing letters to her unknown mother – and her older self, looking back – unfold the tale of her personal and artistic awakening. Extraordinary musical talent, determination, and not-always-trustworthy friends allow Anna Maria to discover Venice in all its danger and glory, from the palaces of the elite to the impoverished alleyways of the Jewish ghetto. The story penetrates the heart of what it means to be a musician, as well as what it means to long for love.