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Vivaldi's Virgins

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  1,955 Ratings  ·  199 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, bringi

Paperback, 304 pages
Published July 29th 2008 by Harper Perennial (first published June 26th 2007)
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Mary E
Jan 07, 2010 Mary E rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 19, 2011 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 07, 2009 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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

¥150 at BookOff. I’m at it again.

It was a pleasant enough read, but so devoid of surprises! The most interesting part (part?) was Silvio. I waited to see whether he was going to get into some serious trouble, and worried for him, but no… suddenly he turned out to be your run-of-the-mill fashionable gay best friend. No secrets, no surprises. Everything went just too smoothly for everyone: Anna, Vivaldi, Silvio, Marietta (especially the latter). Now I hate the “rule” that the writer should heap up
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 it was amazing  ·  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
Heidi Doreika
Too much decadence and sex, not enough music and Vivaldi.
Classificação: 3,5 estrelas
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
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.

Jul 25, 2009 Selina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 06, 2013 Barbara rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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 it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of historical epics
Recommended to Tiffany by: the library
Shelves: historical, fiction, 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
May 23, 2016 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A poignant tale of a child prodigy of the violin raised in the Ospedale della Pietà of Venice at the beginning of the 18th century. Anna Maria's "maestro" was the red priest, Antonio Vivaldi. Written in the first person, author Quick makes excellent use of letters to describe the inner thoughts of Anna Maria's search for her lost mother, as well as the trials and tribulations of the life of a gifted violinist in an orphanage.

Even if you are not a fan of classical music, you'll be searching for a
Kate Forsyth
Mar 01, 2011 Kate Forsyth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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)
Jan 12, 2008 Jennifer (JC-S) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
S. Lang
Oct 20, 2016 S. Lang rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book about 4 years ago, and parts of it really stuck with me. Anna Maria's descriptions of communal life in the the Venetian orphanage make it sound like a much more comfortable than the stereotype- although, to be fair, this is no ordinary orphanage. Within a strict pecking order, these girls live to be instruments to the genius-and conveniently oblivious- Antonio Vivaldi.

What really stuck out to me were the somewhat scandalous and and even progressive moments in the book. Anna Mari
Interesting if you are visiting the church where he wrote
Dec 24, 2011 Caleigh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2012-fifty
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
I thought about giving this book one star but it seemed well-researched and I had to give some credit for that (though the author's notes suggest that someone else did a lot of that research)* (see below). At the start, I was also hoping to be able to give this book many more stars than two. I really enjoyed the idea of a story that highlights a female protagonist from a time and place where women were, often literally, hidden away and not considered at all. However, the promise of the book fell ...more
Sep 08, 2009 ✩Anna✩ rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-star
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
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
Jan 27, 2015 Eva rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 18, 2017 Joanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a fascinating book, especially when all the secrets come together at the end. It deserves a second reading with this knowledge. I think I will read this again in the future for this reason.
I loved the ambiance of Venice at this time in history and the various ways people got around the regulations of the day. A well orchestrated book.
Sep 07, 2008 Rebecca rated it liked it  ·  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
May 28, 2014 Garryvivianne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Paul Burnette
Jul 16, 2016 Paul Burnette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Insecurities warp personalities but truth sets us upright again. We find our purpose as we accept the truths about ourselves and the others around us. Anna Maria, Marietta, Guilietta, Bernardina, la Befana, Sister Laura, Rebekkah, Silvio – all are shaped by the insecurities that beset them. Most insecurity in these characters arises from secrets kept from them by their mothers and by the orphanage they find themselves in as they are either divided into the privileged musicians who play and sing ...more
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
Ashley Marsh
Apr 21, 2016 Ashley Marsh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, 2016
3.5 stars. While the story definitely picked up after the first 50 pages, it wasn't exactly a thrilling read. Overall, the whole thing was just anti-climactic. While the history of Vivaldi is interesting, and learning more about one of my favorite cities was a plus, this book left a lot to be desired. I was waiting for more intrigue, more feeling, just MORE in general. You didn't really get a sense of life in Venice at the time, or of the lives of these young girls. There was just very little de ...more
Vivaldi’s Virgins –Barbara Quick
3/5 stars….. maybe 4 stars
This is historical fiction about the eloborate Venetian society of the 1700’s. The story is told by Anna Maria da Violin who is an inmate of the Ospedale della Pieta . The Ospedale is a combination of foundling home, music academy and cloister. It is an extremely structured community with rigid rules and its own class structure based in some part upon musical talent. The narrative of the story jumps back and forth between the letters wri
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Well researched and very nice story.... 1 18 Dec 02, 2008 08:23PM  
  • The Four Seasons: A Novel of Vivaldi's Venice
  • Mozart's Sister
  • The Miracles of Prato
  • The Ruby Ring
  • The Venetian Mask
  • The Creation of Eve
  • Marrying Mozart
  • Leonardo's Swans
  • Signora Da Vinci
  • The Madonna of the Almonds
  • Liszt's Kiss
  • With Violets
  • A Venetian Affair: A True Tale of Forbidden Love in the 18th Century
  • Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper
  • The Pianist in the Dark
  • The Painted Kiss
  • I Am Madame X
  • For the King
Novelist and poet Barbara Quick is the author of VIVALDI'S VIRGINS, published in July 2007 (quality paperback edition in 2008) by HarperCollins and sold for translation in 14 countries, as well as the YA historical title, A GOLDEN WEB, published by HarperTeen in 2010. More information at"
More about Barbara Quick...

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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.” 7 likes
“I gauge the closeness of my friends even now by how helplessly they can make me laugh.” 5 likes
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