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A Venetian Affair: A True Tale of Forbidden Love in the 18th Century
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A Venetian Affair: A True Tale of Forbidden Love in the 18th Century

3.44 of 5 stars 3.44  ·  rating details  ·  770 ratings  ·  121 reviews
In the waning days of Venice’s glory in the mid-1700s, Andrea Memmo was scion to one the city’s oldest patrician families. At the age of twenty-four he fell passionately in love with sixteen-year-old Giustiniana Wynne, the beautiful, illegitimate daughter of a Venetian mother and British father. Because of their dramatically different positions in society, they could not m ...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published December 18th 2007 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,727)
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Barb
This is a non-fiction work about the long lasting love affair between Andrea Memmo and Giustiniana Wynne who are forbidden lovers unable to marry because of their very different positions in society in eighteenth century Venice.

I expected a story of romance and unfortunately I didn't find anything about this story romantic. I thought the lovers in this historical tale were crazy, lying, obsessive lunatics and if they lived in America in present time they would have had restraining orders filed
...more
Carolyn
This novel, based on recovered letters between young Venetian lovers, is an interesting illustration of the social and political nuances of eighteenth-century Europe - Venice in particular.
The lovers meet at the respective ages of 24 and 16...the girl is an "inappropriate" choice for a future political leader of Venice. Their relationship drives the plot, yet I couldn't muster sympathy for them. They were young, passionate, stubborn enough to take risks that would ruin their future...yet I was n
...more
Virginia
I would really give this book 2.5 stars. I choose this book to read on a trip to Venice. It worked well for being on vacation on that part of the world, but I wouldn't have loved it if I wasn't traveling there.
The other author does a great job with the materials as it's a true story and it's really interesting to read his family's connection to the story.
It was fun to read about the 18th century in Venice as it was the last hay-day before Napoleon invaded. The author talks fairly extensively abo
...more
Ana T.
When Andrea di Robilant's father found a stash of letters in the old family Palazzo in Venice a journey of discovery began. The discovery of an 18th century doomed love affair between their ancestor Andrea Memmo and Giustiniana Wynne, a half English young woman.


This book is the compilation of those letters with di Robilants explanations and contextualisation of the period and the political incidents and social customs of the time. As a love story I must confess that reading some of the letters m
...more
Allison
The Venetian Affair by Andrea Di Robilant is one of those rare pieces of historical writing that reads like one of the great works of fiction. The book contains excerpts from the love letters exchanged between Andrea Memmo, a descendent of one of the founding fathers of Venice, and Giustiniana Wynne, whose background and claims to nobility were slightly questionable. Di Robilant uses the heart-wrenching love letters that were exchanged for over a decade as a foundation, and he fills in the deta ...more
Elizabeth
I can't think of anything as romantic as owning your own palazzo on the Grand Canal in Venice. But that is surpassed by finding a stash of love letters in the palazzo that partially chronicle a love affair between Venetian nobleman Andrea Memmo and half-English beauty , Giustiniana Wynne. That is just what the author's father did discover. The author generously sprinkles this book with excerpts from the letters and then fills in all the historical gaps so that we know the political, social, & ...more
KJ Lipkey
LOVED it! It was such a fun glimpse into the life of the wealthy and powerful in the 1700's in Italy. I love anything that shows the 'problems' of today are nothing new. If anything they seemed more risque back then then now! I would give examples but that will give away what happens in the book. It starts out slow but gains momentum. About 3/4 of the way through it suddenly hit me, "They are never going to be together!" and I felt so sad for them! At the end it sounds like they both lead very i ...more
Cathy
I really enjoyed reading this true love story as it unfolded even though it was sad. It put you in Venice" during Casanova's time. Makes me want to go back.
Amanda
interesting, but rather long and drawn out
Sean
A Venetian Affair tells the story of Andrea Memmo, a young 18th-century Venetian nobleman and Giustiniana Wynne, the young English woman that he falls in love with. The novel is based on letters between the two lovers that Robilant's father, descended from Memmo, discovered in the ancestral family palazzo. The story is structured around actual excerpts from these letters, as well as Giustiniana's letters, which have also been preserved.

The two lovers begin a torrid love affair soon after they me
...more
Elaine Dowling
One of the best parts of this book is the story behind why it was written. The author's father found a stash of old letters in an old house that had belonged to his family but no longer did. The letters added a significant part to the story of two 18th Century Venetian lovers. The affair, itself, and its participants were well known -- in large part due to mention by Casanova in his memoirs.

Anyway, the author's Father was fascinated by their story. He talked and worked at writing their story, a
...more
Tori
2004- What if your father brought home some letters found in your ancestral palazzo in Italy that seemed to reveal a forbidden love affair? Would you tuck the letters away without a second thought? Or, like the author of this amazing book, would you decide to research the story further and write a book about the lovers' lives? If this sounds like the foundation of a great story, you should definitely pick up this book. The author is related to Andrea Memmo, a son of a prominent ancient Venetian ...more
Patrick
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
ladywallingford
The true story of the love affair between Andrea and Giustiniana in Venice before its decline was very compelling. However, for me the more interesting bits were the mentions here and there of Giacomo Casanova in their love story, which probably stems from my recent viewing of the Masterpiece Theater production of Casanova.

I particularly liked the format in which the author presented the story. In between the telling of the story, he used the couple's letters in order to give them a voice. It re
...more
Susanna
This book is so much filled with...how should I start? It is filled with the history of the 18th Century in Venice, filled with all the morals in that time, filled with the feelings and love of two young persons for each other... knowing,(but a time long fighting for it) there is no future for that love. He, the son of one of the first families in Venice, descendant of venetian Doges, she a beautiful girl with... no background...in worst case an illegitimate born doughter of a not so well repute ...more
Marsha
Mr. Di Robilant’s father was extremely taken with the nobility that lay in his family line and in the love affair that enraptured one particular Venetian nobleman. In a world engaged in war, Andrea Memmo has his career to make and Giustiniana Wynne needs to find a husband. Because of her background, he is not free to marry her but that doesn’t prevent them from a love affair that would last the rest of their lives. Even separated from him, she could not keep from exchanging letters and those let ...more
Julie
I think Venice is the most romantic city in the world. So, when I heard this book documented a true, Romeo-and-Juliet-style affair that took place in Venice in the mid-1700's, I knew I had to read it. In some ways, the tale of how the author discovered the story was just as interesting as the tale of the young lovers. After his father found and translated moldy old love letters in the attic of the family palazzo in Venice, the author pulled them together into a full picture of life there at a ti ...more
Mark
For me, this book was a total page-turner. I found the author's presentation of the story a bit academic (the book includes extensive footnotes) but I was totally taken by the underlying true tale of forbidden love. I also enjoyed learning about the mores and behaviors of 18th-century Venetian nobility. I literally couldn't put this book down until I fell asleep at 1 am, and then finished it the next day in my second session. I found myself shaking my head with incredulity at the sheer volume of ...more
Louise
We have romantic notions about the balls, the masques, the outings, the houses and the art of this period. We don't often consider how little personal freedom the the young nobles attending those balls in the ornate palaces had. Young people could not enjoy their youth. They had to navigate double standards set by society. How did they cope with the emotions and hormones of youth?

With power and money at stake, romantic love was considered indulgent and selfish. In Venice, matches needed not only
...more
Laura
This review from Amzaon is pretty accurate although I kept waiting for more to happen in terms of 'plot' between the two lovers. For that reason, I only gave it 3 stars. "It's hard to imagine a more romantic real-life story than the long, forbidden love affair of the 18th-century Venetian nobleman Andrea Memmo and a half-English beauty named Giustiniana Wynne. Andrea Di Robilant's A Venetian Affair is drawn in part from a cache of letters discovered by the author's father in his ancestral palazz ...more
Sheree
Jan 06, 2009 Sheree rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone with a passion for watching paint dry or grass grow
I had high expectations for this book based on the glowing reviews but only finished the book through sheer stubbornness and the hope of seeing what other reviewers saw. I gave the book 1 star only because of the history lesson, the one palatable factor in this otherwise long, dry chew!
The reader learns (if they have the staying power) about 18th Century European life & the rigid social structure of the Venetian Republic. The highlight for me was the interactions between the protagonists an
...more
Jennifer Sherwood
This book tells of a romance between two young people in the Republic of Venice; the young man is a Venetian nobleman from a distinguished and long-established family and the young woman is a beauty with a questionable family history. They cannot marry because of their different socioeconomic positions. The narrative is largely re-created from correspondence written between the two lovers, although as the story progresses, eventually only the young woman's correspondence is shared. There may hav ...more
Melissa
I was bored to tears by this one. It’s the nonfiction account of a love affair that took place in the 18th century in Venice. The author wrote the book after his father found a collection of letters between their ancestor, a Venetian nobleman, and a young woman. It started out strong and quickly pulled me in, but soon the story was bogged down with a nonstop back and forth.

The melodrama between the lovers, the restraints of their society and their different social classes made the whole thing i
...more
Kagama-the Literaturevixen
The blurb at the back of this book makes you except a love story of shakespearian proportions.

Instead what you get is a story about two young people who has a brief relationship before she has to travel abroad and he stays behind. To continue to lead the leisurely life of a 18th century noble (view spoiler)

All the while she is in France (view spoiler)

Its true that they knew Casanova and he fig
...more
Robin
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this. I wasn't really sure what to expect from it because reviews were mixed and I didn't realize there were so many letters which survived or that Andrea and Giustiniana's relationship would be so detailed. I didn't realize so much was known about them and their relationship.

Their difficult situation did not always bring out the best in them but their love and passion was real and raw and that made it beautiful and powerful. It can be difficult
...more
Christina
I was first interested in this book after hearing the author speak about it on NPR. It took me several years to get around to reading it. The idea is great! I love that he took old letter and added his own research to fleash out the details. It offers an interesting look at love, sex, marriage and social standards in the mid-1750s, as well as a look at a global elite. This said, I do feel the book falls short of what it could have been. It seems to just end. And, I think the author would have do ...more
Kate Forsyth
This book is sub-titled 'A True Story of Impossible Love in the Eighteenth Century' and is an extraordinary account of two star-crossed lovers and their forbidden affair in the mid-eighteenth century. Andrea Memmo is a Venetian nobleman, and Giustiniana is a beautiful young girl from a family of dubious lineage (her father was an English lord, but her mother was a scandalous nobody who conceived Giustniana out of wedlock). It's a beguiling story, destined to end tragically, which weaves together ...more
Kate
This is a nonfiction story of two lovers in 18th century Venice. The lovers are separated by social classes are therefore forced to carry on a clandestine affair.

This book is not for everyone. If you like historical books, you will find plenty to enjoy in this book. However if you are looking for a great love story, this is not it.

The positive aspect of this book was being able to read real letters and get an authentic look at what it was like to be in love in a time when marriage was not about
...more
Ellen

Barbara recommended this book. It's fiction based on an actual series of letters between two lovers. The writing is wonderful, the story is exciting, and the setting spectacular.


There is a fascinating journey from court to court, from Venice to Paris to London, while the mother tries to marry off her beautiful daughter. The realities of travel at that time were astonishing. The comparison of court life, manners, etiquette and customs are intriguing and are told with genuine knowledge of the peri

...more
Melissa
This is a well written book based on letters found 200 years after they were written. If you're interested in what life was really like among the rich, and maybe not as rich, in France/Italy, this is certainly an interesting read. Unfortunately, most of the letters are from Justiniana, and filled with emotional silliness. And if you're looking for a happy ending, well...it depends on your definition of happy endings. You are filled in with the wonders of the two main character's lives to the ver ...more
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Andrea Di Robilant was educated at Le Rosey and Columbia University. He now lives in Rome, working as a correspondent for the newspaper La Stampa.
More about Andrea Di Robilant...
Lucia: A Venetian Life in the Age of Napoleon Chasing the Rose: An Adventure in the Venetian Countryside Irresistible North: From Venice to Greenland on the Trail of the Zen Brothers Chasing the Rose Lucia nel tempo di Napoleone

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