The Violinist of Venice: A Story of Vivaldi by Alyssa Palombo
- Characterisation - something I only fully appreciated at the end of the novel
- Pacing is a bit off... read the review for more details
Rating: 3.5 stars
Palombo's The Violinist of Venice reminded me of the book Mozart's Sister by Nancy Moser (one of my all time favourite books), from the synopsis below, as both stories share elements of historical fiction, music, love and loss.
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.
I definitely found this book a bit hard to get into. The start was difficult for me - it ran too quickly. The romance between Vivaldi and Adriana felt forced, and rushed, and didn't appeal to me. It was only at the halfway point of the novel, where I started to feel more comfortable with the pacing. Furthermore, the plot development improved after the halfway mark for me as well. I especially loved how Palombo showcased the coming of a full circle with Adrianna's children.
I really liked how Palombo constructed her characters too. Adriana, at first, was a naive child, one that I couldn't help but distaste because of what I saw as petulance. However, as the novel progressed, Palombo weaves more into Adrianna's character, and by the end of the novel, there is a true character development. Adrianna transforms from a naive child into a confident, self-assured woman.
"I genuinely enjoyed his company. But this only made me want to push him further away" <-- Adrianna at 29% of the book
"It is my inheritance to give away" <--- Adrianna at 76% of the book
Another aspect of this novel that particularly appealed to me was Palombo's use of imagery and figurative language. Now, this probably sounds really analytical right now... but Palombo'a words swept over me, and I loved Palombo's use of different ideas, ranging from music to nature, to express Adrianna's thoughts. See below for an example:
"My youth was spring and my affair with the man I loved was summer, with all its heat. And autumn came as we began to come apart and winter when we were undone, and I was forced to give up our child. And yet surely that winter has ended long since. Then spring came again with the births of my children and this peace and contentment I know now is like the beautiful sun of summer once again"
- 88% of the book, in relation to The Four Seasons and how it related to Adrianna's life - it's beautiful, isn't it?
The Violinist of Venice: A Story of Vivaldi by Alyssa Palombo is not a story of Vivaldi, in my opinion. It is a story of maturity, of growth. Romance and the historical and geographical aspect features heavily, but ultimately, I feel like this book is about the ability of people to move on and change, not necessarily for the better, but to adapt to their surroundings. For anyone who loves romance novels, historical fiction, music, I would 100% recommend this book.
Keep reading and loving books,
This review copy was provided to me in exchange for an honest review on Netgalley.