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Vivaldi's Virgins

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  1,364 ratings  ·  147 reviews
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, bringin ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 29th 2008 by Harper Perennial (first published June 26th 2007)
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Mary E
Antonio Vivaldi, one of my very favorite composers, taught for years at a foundling school in Venice, Italy. The story is of one of the foundling girls, who really existed historically. The author is a historian, and this is her first novel. The book is well written and engrossing. The foundlings in this school are not orphans, but abandoned as babies by the very poor, or many times, are the illegitimate children of the very rich. Boys and girls were raised together in the school until age ten, ...more
This was a wonderful piece of historical fiction, exploring the musical, spiritual, and emotional development of one of the foundlings of the Pieta, a student of Vivaldi's, set against the background of 18th century Venice. The author creates a vivid setting; it is easy to envision the cold stone corridors of the church, the poverty of the Jewish ghetto, and the careless flamboyance of the aristocracy. It is another type of "coming of age" story, in a world where children may be discarded for co ...more
I would really give this book 3.5 stars if I could. It captivated me from the first page (which I always like in a book), and the first 2/3(ish) of the book were very good, but the end was lacking. It's a coming-of-age-type story of an orphan (Anna Maria) in a foundling home in early-18th-century Venice (and, she happens to be a student of Vivaldi's). But there's also a bit of a mystery as to the main character's parentage; she particularly seeks to find who her mother is. For me the book starte ...more
Jean Marie
This was a beautiful, fast read about a young girl, an orphan in a convent who was one of the many musicians taught by the maestro Vivaldi. The novel tells of the narrator's, Anna Maria's, life and times growing up in such an institution and how her and her friends dealt with it all. Anna Maria's primary goal is to not only be a great violinist but to find out where she came from. Her search is seamlessly woven into the drama of the time, sneaking out of the convent walls, boys, and chaos among ...more
Oct 24, 2007 Karren rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: music lovers, poets, travelers who love Venice
This novel is based on the real life composer Antonio Vivaldi who taught in an orphanage where there were tremendously gifted girls who sang and played musical instruments such as the violin. The story is told poetically through the voice of an orphan who plays violin and who is searching for her mother.

When you finish reading the book, you will want to start over because the orphan's mystery is solved.

Read more about this book from at and my blog The Dressing on Scene4 Maga
I desperately wanted to enjoy this book as much as I did The Four Seasons: A Novel of Vivaldi's Venice. Unfortunately, it just wasn't as good.

In this tale, our protagonist is Anna Maria del Violin, who was left at Venice's Ospedale de Pieta as a foundling. She is writing from her perspective as one of the ospedale's music instructors, looking back at past events. The novel is semi-epistolary; part of the action is told via Anna Maria's letters to a mother for whom she is constantly searching.

I am interested in stories set in Venice so this book was intriguing for me, loosley based on real life events of the young musicians who were taught by Vivaldi. Their is a bit of mystery involved with the orphan trying to find out her parentage but having read many novels which use this as a plot device I find it less interesting than the descriptions of the setting which is brought vividly to life here.
As a mystery it fails to draw me in and I couldn't keep track of the characters in the conf
Meh. Don"t read this book if you actually want to learn about Vivaldi. It's more a novel about life growing up as a musician in an orphanage. The most interesting bit about Vivaldi (I won't give spoiler) that is revealed at the end of the book, is denied by the author in the notes.

Also, the author used many Italian words without explaining them. I found this very frustrating, even tho some terms could be deciphered by the context. At the end of the book, I discovered as I finished it, is a gloss
Oct 04, 2009 Tiffany rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of historical epics
Recommended to Tiffany by: the library
Shelves: fiction, historical, music
I loved this story. Vivaldi is at the top of my favourite composers list, along with a select other few, and I had never read anything about his life before. I really knew nothing about these convents in Venice, where music is taught with such reverence, nor do I know enough about Venice in this time period. So I found the setting very engaging. As well, having spent much of my youth in music lessons, violin included, I had first-hand knowledge of how music is felt and played.
The whole time I
Shonna Nelson-Williams
This was a beautiful book. I would love to read it all over again, after learning who Anna's mother was. It captivated my attention from the beginning to end. It's a book you don't want to put down. Barbara Quick writes from actual historical events, that makes it even more compelling. Her discriptions, are a visual delight for any imagination. I wanted to paint every chapter! Vivaldi's Virgins, is full of different emotions. And what makes a great book, is when what you read creates a reaction. ...more
Eva Laginha
Para mim, este é um livro encantador ... merecedor de cinco estrelas de louvor, sem favor! ... e não é por rimar que deixa de ser verdade! ...
É um texto delicado, elegante, que desde o início, nos prende às suas páginas. Repleto de momentos de ternura que nos emocionam, aproxima-se, em muitas das suas passagens, dos princípios da narrativa poética.
Os factos desenrolam-se, no século XVIII, em Veneza, e retratam muito da realidade da época, tanto ao nível social e político, como no plano religios
This was an excellent book. This starts at the Ospedale della Pietà, an orphanage that really did exist (& still exists to this day). Babies & children were either left on their doorstep or taken by the parents who could not support their children. They were all taught a trade or music. This story is narrated by one of these children, Anna Maria dal Violin. They were taught music by Vivaldi, known as The Red Priest due to his bright red hair. He actually WAS a priest, but his music was s ...more
Kate Forsyth
Another book set at the Pieta, the founding school which trained abandoned children to sing and play musical instruments. Antonio Vivaldi is a key character in this book, but the spotlight is mostly on Anna Maria dal Violin, a true life girl whose musical virtuosity was lauded in the early 18th century. And even though she is locked up behind the Ospedale’s walls most fo the time, Venice itself comes vividly to life. A really wonderful read.
Jennifer (JC-S)
I really enjoyed this novel. I've been in search of escapism this week, and this novel served the purpose well, The novel is set in 18th Venice at the height of the splendour and decadence of the dying republic.

Anna Maria dal Violin is one of the musicians at the Ospedale della Piete where Antoni Vivaldi is maestro.

Readers of 'Marrying Mozart' will possibly also enjoy this novel.
Heidi Doreika
Too much decadence and sex, not enough music and Vivaldi.
Judy Higgins
A bit of good entertainment, "Vivaldi's Virgins" gives a tiny glimpse into the life of Vivaldi as seen through the eyes of a young Venetian woman. Abandoned as an infant and raised in a foundling home, Anna Maria dal Violin is a fictional character who studies violin with Vivaldi. The backdrop of Venice in the early 1700s is fascinating, as is the description of the cloistered life of Anna Maria. A few of the incidents occurring within the walls of the convent run orphanage beggared my imaginati ...more
Also posted on my blog at The Humble Book Nerd

Oh my goodness gracious...I had to read this one twice. I raced through it the first time and realized I hadn't paid enough attention to give it a decent review, I was so caught up in the poetry of the narrative. No exaggeration, I've never read prose this lyrical. I doubt I've read anything written with such detail, either. This is how you write historical fiction, painstaking research woven in so seamlessly t
I knew nothing about this book or the author when I bought it, I just loved the cover and the title. Then before reading it I visited the author's website and fell in love with the inspiration for the book - a combination of a found piece of art, a smattering of intriguing historical facts, and a beautiful time and place in history (18th century Venice). Many of the places and key people described did exist, though the details, including most relationships and letters, are of the author's imagin ...more
Nicely written, never dull. I particularly enjoyed the way Ms. Quick created a vibrant image of Venice in this time period. So many historical novels are set in Britain, it was refreshing to be transported to a city so unusual and mysterious.

The story centers around Anna Maria, a foundling of the Ospedale della Pietà. The plot line concerning the "mystery" of her parentage was not hard to decipher, no real surprises. It would have been nice if the novel had brought the personal life of Antonio V
Book Concierge
In 18th century Venice, Anna Maria dal Violin has lived her entire life in the orphanage where Antonio Vivaldi is maestro and composer. Like most of the other girls, all elite musicians, she was abandoned at the Ospidale de la Pieta as an infant. Maria exhibits great talent – even genius – on the violin and is personally tutored by the maestro himself. Still, she cannot rest until she finds out the truth of her parentage, and her continued efforts in this regard keep her from being promoted to t ...more
Vivaldi’s Virgins is told from two view points. The first are the letters that Anna Maria is writing to her mother. These letters are written within the span of one year, when Anna is 14. The rest of the book is told from the view point of Anna Maria as a 40 year old woman, filling in the gaps that the younger Anna’s letters leave blank. I really enjoy this method of story telling, because not only do we get the passion-filled words and ideals of the younger Anna, we also get to see how her choi ...more
In Vivaldi’s Virgins, Barbara Quick brings to life Renaissance Venice from the perspective of a cloistered coro violinist, student of Vivaldi, and later a maestra herself.

Anna Maria dal Violin is an orphan raised at the Pieta and trained in music from a young age. She excels in the violin and comes under the tutelage of Antonio Vivaldi. As she comes of age, Anna Maria struggles against the cloistered life the Church decrees for its choir girls. She longs for freedom and to find her birth parents
Sep 02, 2009 Rebecca rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: musicians and historical fiction fans
This is a very sweet, well-written novel. My only complaint is that the mystery surrounding the heroine’s parentage was rather transparent, and I guessed its resolution very early in the book. Otherwise, I enjoyed the vibrant descriptions of Venice, Carnival, and the inner workings of the Ospedale. In fact, what I liked most about the novel was learning about the Ospedale della Pietà and its musical school for the young women who were left in a niche of the outer convent wall as infants. What an ...more
The book, itself, was well researched and written well. The plot, though, was extremely slow moving. In fact, Vivaldi was absent for most of the novel and was more of a minor character. Instead the story circled around Anna, an orphan in Venice. Anna was the only character in the book who was developed-all the other characters seemed to be very flat and one dimensional. In addition to dull characters, it seemed as if every individual in the novel had at least three other nicknames in addition to ...more
Sherry Chiger
Consider this a 3.5-star rating. This is one of those books that I wish I could rate higher. The writing is evocative, graceful, and precise--in particular it captured what the ability to create music means to a true artist.What's more, the characters are well defined. Ultimately, though, it was a bit of a "so what?"--an enjoyable way to pass the commute and a painless way to learn more about Vivaldi, Venice, and the time period, but not a book that will stick with me long afterward. (And the ti ...more
In the crumbling waterways of Venice, the Ospedale della Pietà is a foundling orphanage that takes in children from all parts of society from the nobility to the homeless mother. In 1709, Anna Maria is the star of the coro, the musical ensemble of voices and musicians that are the jewel of Venice. Her violin master is none other than the priest, Antonio Vivaldi. And while Anna plays with the skill and emotion that makes her a star, her willful independence keeps her status low within the walls o ...more
It's been a long time since I've read anything about music. If nothing else, Vivaldi's Virgins brought back a spark of desire for me to sing and plan the piano again.

Set in Venice in the 18th century, this book is about the life of the orphans who were trained to play music in the Ospedale della Pietà under Vivaldi. What I liked most was hearing the main character's passion for music described in words. I think the author's ability of putting that passion and love into words is an art unto itse
This is what happens when you combine a love for the "idea" of Girl w/ a Pearl Earring and 7th-grade writing skills. It's almost as despicable a gesture to me as Tuesdays with Morrie: not everything has to be made purchasable by the public; some things are better left as private journal entries for your grandchildren to find in the attic, mistake for trash, and burn.

It really hurts my feelings as an advocate of good literary fiction when people mess with GWAPE, when a book's publishing team has
An interesting read because I knew nothing about the Ospedale della Pieta, an Italian orphanage and convent where Vivaldi taught and composed from 1704 to 1740. Left at the orphanage as an infant, Anna Maria longs to know her parents. With no family and few friends, Anna Maria channels her angst and loneliness into the music Vivaldi writes for her and her violin.
Overall, not a bad book. My interest in the historical setting made up for plodding plot. Eventually, I began to like Anna Maria and c
Sherrill Watson
A historical novel, from 1700. Not as engaging as I'd hoped. Maybe it was because I got ahold of a large print book, made for simple minds?

Anna Maria, "student of Maestro Vivaldi". Interesting story about a girls school student who is favored by Vivaldi, in Venice. Predictable. I figured out who her mother was early on.

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Well researched and very nice story.... 1 17 Dec 02, 2008 08:23PM  
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Novelist and poet Barbara Quick is the author of VIVALDI'S VIRGINS, published in July 2007 by HarperCollins and sold for translation in 12 countries. More information at"
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“The sky on a clear night is a living, pulsating thing. The stars are like musical notes turned to light, and, like notes, they shimmer and swell and fade and fall. The painters have never captured it—but they never will until some painter teaches his colors to dance.” 8 likes
“I gauge the closeness of my friends even now by how helplessly they can make me laugh.” 5 likes
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