Friday, July 13, 2012

Review of: Vivaldi's Muse

Singing in the opera was Annina Giro's dream, even as a small girl. Singing in one of Antonio Vivaldi's operas would be heaven to Annina. When she is sponsored by a wealthy Count to travel to Vienna and study music, Annina is sure her dreams are about to come true. The opera life proves much more difficult than Annina expected. Vicious singers, politics, Counts wants more from her than her voice, and unexpected feelings for her mentor complicate Annina's journey. 

Vivaldi's Muse is a beautifully written historical novel that chronicles the life and Annina Giro and her relationship with Antonio Vivaldi. This novel is filled with history, tragedy, revenge,and romance. No matter what you're looking for in a book, there is something for just about everyone in Vivaldi's Muse

During my interview with the author, Sarah Kelly, she talked about her own musical history, both as a professional musician and a historian. Kelly's academic background certainly shows through in this novel. The scenes are expertly crafted, letting the reader fully experience the cities, gondolas, operas, and even the attitudes of the time period. I felt like I was immersed in every aspect of the book. Kelly's detailed writing built a realistic setting on every page. This carried over into the interactions between the opera performers, composers, teachers, and even the family members. The way the characters spoke about the opera and the financial and business aspects showed Kelly's familiarity with the workings of theater and politics during this time. Her own musical background lent believability to conversations about arias, assignment of roles, contracts, and composing. I never had any reason to doubt that Kelly's scenes could have unfolded exactly as written. 

The characters themselves were obviously based off actual people, but just having a real person to write about doesn't always ensure believable or interesting characters. I have seen plenty of movies and read books based on real life people or experiences that were not engaging in the least. Vivaldi's Muse does not fall into that category. Antonio and Annina both were incredible characters. The emotion they displayed, and even more importantly, held back, brought them to life. They both struggled with their personal aspirations and their desire to make each other happy. Antonio was a Catholic priest dedicated to his faith, but he could not ignore the love he felt for Annina. Knowing his faith's importance to him and respecting her mentor made Annina's struggle to control her own emotional attachment to Antonio a challenge she never expected to face. On top of all of this is the ruthless business of the Venetian opera threatens to tear everything apart. 

Vivaldi's Muse is a book well worth reading. I found the history fascinating, the characters likable and interesting, the romance hard to pull away from, and the overall story thoroughly enjoyable. This definitely ranks as one of my favorite historical novels. 

Would I recommend this book? Yes, definitely. There is so much to like about this book. Beautiful writing, engaging characters, and a captivating story. 

Who would I recommend this book to? Even though this story had been previously written for young adults (The Red Priest's Annina), I think adults and teens alike would enjoy this book. The language was very clean. There is mention of relationships and a few advances made, but there are very few sexual intonations in this book. Anyone interested in musical/opera history, especially Vivaldi, will also love this book. If you're looking for a love story that will pull at your heart, this book is for you. 

So head over to Amazon today and get your copy of Vivaldi's Muse in Paperback or Kindle. 

And stay up to date on Sarah Kelly's writing by visiting Bel Canto Press and connecting with her on Facebook..