Casanova: Actor Lover Priest Spy
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Casanova: Actor Lover Priest Spy

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  154 ratings  ·  30 reviews
In Casanova, noted author Ian Kelly traces the life of Giacomo Casanova, a man whose very name is synonymous with sensuality, seduction and sexual prowess. But Casanova was more than just a great lover. A businessman, diplomat, spy, and philosopher, he authored more than twenty books, including a translation of The Iliad. Confidant to many infamous characters—including Mad...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published October 16th 2008 by Tarcher (first published 2008)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Casanova, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Casanova

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 375)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jul 31, 2011 Jessica rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jessica by: Myself, book club
I liked this's a 3.5 rounded down to a 3 just because it wasn't written as a story...I'd much rather have read it from the first person. I saw this book as I was browsing the book aisle at Costco, which I do once a week and the title caught my eye. I love historical fiction and I thought to myself I don't know anything about Casanova...besides the obvious. I had no idea he was so many things...or that a person in that time could travel so much. Just reading about him moving around from...more
Like most people, when I hear the name Casanova, I think of sex. Ian Kelly offers a more rounded view of a fascinating man who has come to be defined by a single facet of his complex life.

Casanova’s autobiography, “The History of My Life”, offers more than the story of one man’s life. It allows us a unique glimpse into the life of people from all walks of life during the eighteenth century. He mingled with prostitutes and kings, actors and bishops, a Tsarina and famous courtesans, nobility and t...more
The name Casanova comes with a lot of baggage. After reading this book, it turns out Giacomo Casanova was not that different than the others guys in his time, he just took the time to write it all down. He did not sugarcoat it most of the time either, if he messed up, he wrote about it. Casanova's life reads like an 18th century travelogue. There were not many travellers back then, so when an individual visited the staggering amount of cities he did, people can learn many things from his writing...more
This book was an assignment to create a report for a study group to which I belong. It was fascinating! The amount of traveling Casanova did in the 1700s is alone remarkable. Add to this his adventures, both sexual and otherwise, and you can't help but have an interesting read.
I got through this by listening to Benedict Cumberbach read it to me and it was probably a lot better that way.
Just a lovely, well written, thoughtful, informed and impressively researched book. Casanova will charm you.
Leigh Roberts
Excellent, best historical biography I've ever read
There are at least two aspects of this book to recommend it.
The first is its recreation of life in the gilded cities of 18th century Europe--Venice, Paris, London, Rome, St. Petersburg. The second, of course, is the account of all the romantic adventures, with all the salacious details one would hope, that made Casanova the lover of legend.

The story opens in the most serene republic of Venice, a city filled with actors, singers, dancers, and masked revelers, and the author claims that while Casa...more
This book follows the life and sexual escapades of Giacomo Casanova, using Casanova's own memoirs as Ian Kelly's main primary source, often backed up or enhanced by other contemporary letters, memoirs, diaries, etc.

Casanova's charm immediately shines through on the page, and it's hard not to like him almost instantly. He is the ultimate lovable rake, who doesn't just use and throw away women, but falls a little in love with all the women he beds and often cares for them and protects them along t...more
Note: I don't know if the version I read is abridged or not.

I only heard the audiobook version because of Benedict Cumberbatch. I honestly had no interest in this type/genre of books, but once in a while a random book may come in my way and when I read it, I fall in love with it, and wants more.

However, if this was read by any other person I may have lost interest in it from the first chapter. It wasn't as appealing as I thought. There's not much to say. But it's just so.. overdramatic. It's as...more
This is hard to rate. While is had elements that I respect and enjoy: great writing and meticulously executed research, it also faced the challenge of condensing a whole life full of adventure into one mere volume. On this, I would have preferred a different approach. It simply had too much detail in places to read non-stop. I read this over a few weeks.

Sections were fascinating, particularly about the political and thought culture at the time, however I could rarely read a whole chapter withou...more
I really enjoyed this - was fascinating. As soon as I finished it, my friend took it from me to read!
It's a miracle! I'm finally finished with this book. Although I liked parts of this book it was dense and long. I chalk it up as good for me because of the history, which I'll admit was very interesting. I did learn quite a bit about life in the 1700s - like how they traveled, lived, and a little about the food. It was also fascinating to learn about the use of condoms back then and some of the names for them. I'm excited for some fiction!
I came to this book full of pre-conceptions about what would be contained within the pages. I felt I already knew what I'd read, however I was wrong. It turns out that he was no different to most of the men of that period; he just took the time to write down his escapades. A surprisingly good read!
Elly Sands
It's not quite fair to give a rating to a book you could only get halfway through. The most interesting part of the book was the history of Venice during the 18th century. Unfortunately,and to my surprise, I found Casanova to be an unlikeable man so I got bored reading about him.
Joann Spears
The book is very readable and very interesting. I think I differ from the author on the point at which oversexed and adventurous bleeds into creepy pathology when it comes to Casanova's seamier side. The old psych nurse in me gives me a clinical point of view, I suppose.
Michelle M.
Really quite difficult to read. Very boring. I know it's a biography and all, but the actual memoirs are by far more interesting to read. The intermezzos although were quite fullfilling and informational about 18th century history in a general perspective.
Great book but it lost its charm near the end unfortunately. However I stuck it out and over all it was a good read and interesting. I would still recommend this to anyone with an interest in Giacomo Casanova and his antics.

Still worth the 5 stars.
This is a very well-written biography of Casanova. The author places him squarely in his time and gives the reader some background about the times in which he lived. This was an easy and very interesting book to read - not the lesat bit boring.
Not a bad read, more interesting then i originally thought, but super sexual overall. He was a priest, a spy and over all just very good with blending in with society, but he was also a man-hoe.
Again, the rating reflects my appreciation for the text as if I'd read it, not the fact that I listened to it being read by the heavenly voice of Benedict Cumberbatch.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ian Kelly's fascinating biography of the world's most famous lover and libertine.

Published by Hodder & Stoughton on 26 Jun 2008.

Blurbification - Giacomo Casanova: one of the most beguiling and controversial individuals of his or any age. Braggart or perfect lover? Conman or genius? He made and lost fortunes, founded two state lotteries, wrote various plays, philosophical and mathematical treatises, opera libretti, poetry, and forty-two books. His 3,600 pages of memoirs recorded hundreds of m...more
May 12, 2009 Lauren rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2009
So good. Well-written and entertaining. A more truthful look at the man behind the myth!
Casanova was a very interesting man. And gross. He slept with his daughter. Voluntarily. Ew.
Engaging biography of one of history's most interesting men.
You know, this guy is my hero.
Pretty fascinating so far - am about 3/4 done - and, yes, he actually started out on the road to priesthood!!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 12 13 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Secret Wife of Louis XIV: Françoise d'Aubigné, Madame de Maintenon
  • Cleopatra: A Biography
  • Stalin's children : three generations of love and betrayal
  • Antony And Cleopatra
  • England's Mistress: The Infamous Life of Emma Hamilton
  • The Spartacus War
  • Virgins of Venice: Broken Vows and Cloistered Lives in the Renaissance Convent
  • Mr. Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream
  • Venezia è un pesce. Una guida
  • How to Be a Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood
  • The Venetian Years
  • Betsy Ross and the Making of America
  • The Red Prince
  • The Devil's Broker: Seeking Gold, God, and Glory in Fourteenth- Century Italy
  • Plato: A Very Short Introduction
  • The Life and Death of Mary Wollstonecraft
  • Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane
  • Byron: Life and Legend
Ian Kelly is a multi-award-nominated actor, writer and presenter of TV documentaries. He is the Sunday Times Biographer of the Year 2008-9 (Casanova). He is currently filming the last of the Harry Potter films as Hermione's father, he transfers in the National Theatre's production of The Pitmen Painters to Broadway in 2010.
More about Ian Kelly...
Cooking for Kings: The Life of Antonin Careme, the First Celebrity Chef Beau Brummell: The Ultimate Man of Style Mr Foote's Other Leg MR Foote's Other Leg. by Ian Kelly Mr Foote's Other Leg: Comedy, tragedy and murder in Georgian London

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »