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The Four Seasons: A Novel of Vivaldi's Venice
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The Four Seasons: A Novel of Vivaldi's Venice

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3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  807 ratings  ·  149 reviews
In glittering 18th-century Venice, music and love are prized above all else--and for two sisters coming of age, the city's passions blend in intoxicating ways.

Chiaretta and Maddalena are as different as night and day. The two sisters were abandoned as babies on the steps of the Ospedale della Pietß, Venice's world-famous foundling hospital and musical academy. High-spirite
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ebook, 400 pages
Published November 4th 2008 by Hyperion (first published January 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Sharon
This is, beyond a doubt, one of the best written historical novels I have ever read. Laurel Corona paints a vivid portrait of 17th and 18th century Venetian life, examining the roles of women in society and in the ospedale (orphanages) that earned their money from womens' choruses and orchestras. Using the premise of two sisters left to the ospedale, each choosing a different path, makes an interesting contrast between the two realms. Maddalena, a gifted violinist, chooses to remain in the clois ...more
Antof9
Finished this one tonight at my mom's, in Arab, Alabama.

It was fascinating and confusing, both. Confusing in the same way books like The Other Boleyn Sister confuse me. Basically, I don't know which is fact and which is fiction, and it bugs me! It makes me fear for historical accuracy in the reading public. Or maybe the non-reading public. On the other hand, they don't care ...

There were some things so specific and clearly described that I felt like I was there. When the girls first came to the
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Sarah
This is a story set in the age of Venice when music and art were everywhere. Two sisters, Maddalena and Chiaretta, are abandoned by their mother to the Pietà, one of four orphanages for girls in Venice. The pair are raised behind closed doors, with Maddalena as a violin prodigy and Chiaretta as an astounding singer. However, beyond the music, the sisters are as different as black and white. Chiaretta is beautiful, outgoing, and longs to find a life outside the walls of the Pietà where she’ll be ...more
Karen
I read this book in two days - a pretty good measurement of how much I enjoyed this book!

As a music major, I spent some time studying Vivaldi. I knew he was nicknamed the Red Priest (due to his fiery red hair), he wasn't the most chaste priest, he was a violin virtuoso and wrote some extraoridnarily beautiful and intense music. I knew he worked and wrote music for an Venetian orphanage for girls - but this book describes Vivaldi's Venice in such an interestingly detailed way.

Corona tells the sto
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Djrmel
I'm taking away a whole star for using Vivaldi's name in the title when he's only a reoccurring supporting character in the story. The theme of the story, how art can shape lives as much as lives shape art, is shown through the lives of two sisters, orphaned as infants and raised within the very interesting patronage system that made Venice the art center that it once was. As a romance, there's a distinct lack of any kind of passion, but the setting, as a HF, is pretty well done. There's a sense ...more
Maggie Anton
I not only enjoyed this novel, but like all good historicals, I learned a lot about a time and place that I knew nothing about. I read this book because my father, gone now for 5 years, loved Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" and the music was part of my childhood background. But I found it fascinating to discover that in 17th-century Venice, bastard daughters of the nobility [from their courtesans] were raised in convent-like music academies, but they were not sworn to poverty or chastity. Corona's ...more
Katie
I loved this book, it was so interesting and it takes you right from your couch and transports you to Venice. There was so much about the culture during the time that I did not know and it was weaved into this story beautifully and tastefully. A lot of historical fiction works get bogged down with sordid details and this book did none of that, which doesn't mean that it was at all a boring read. It was so well written and I was enthralled from page one till the last line. I also loved all the d ...more
Candace
I wish I could say I enjoyed this book. Vivaldi is my favorite composer. But as I read this novel, the characters, Maddelena and Chiaretta, felt flat to me. They took too long to develop. Though, in honesty, their love of their musical craft came through bright and clear. Within the first three chapters I read, there was no conceivable motivation forming, that I could determine, to help carry the book with the characters. The motivation for the plot must come later in the novel. Regrettably, I ...more
Terry
This historical novel's setting is 18th century Venice. Two sisters are abandoned and then taken in by a foundling hospital/musical academy. Chiaretta is a bit rebellious, but beautiful and grows to become a much sought-after singer. She marries into a very wealthy family. Her sister, Maddalena, becomes a magnificent violin player, taught on occasion by Antonio Vivaldi. She does not leave the academy. There is a mutual attraction between she and Vivaldi, but they do not act upon it. I see the "f ...more
Lauren Stringer
This book covers the lifetime of two sisters growing up in 18th century Venice in the Ospidale Della pieta. Their thoughts mature with their aging and experiences and Laurel Corona keeps the story alive. Intimate portrayals of Vivaldi that brings him to life. I look forward to reading more Corona. Her works seem to focus on the stories of fictional women living in different periods of history. The female history we are still so lacking in.
Stef
I rescued this book from the trash when I was assessing the collection at my library. Hadn't gone out in a couple of years, but had been part of that big popular boom in biographical novels a couple years back. The idea that this novel focused on the life of Antonio Vivaldi caught my eye and I decided to read it instead of withdraw it.

The Four Seasons is such an iconic piece of music, used in DeBeers diamond commercials for as long as I can remember. Who was the genius that composed that piece?
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Christina
Lush. Provacative. Enchanting from beginning to end.
I know next to nothing about the period, classical music or Venice but Laurel Corona writes this tale so well that I was intrigued from the start. It is a story of two orphaned girls who are cloistered at the earliest of ages -- and only by chance of their musical talents are noticed at all and are given more opportunities. As their talents are cultivated so are their relationships with the various people from the outside world, and with that
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Linda
Two orphaned sisters, raised at the Pieta in Venice, become great musicians and interact with composer Antonio Vivaldi. Good story but a bit too slow.
Emma Iadanza
This was a decent book. I have been reading a lot set in 1400s Florence, so 1700s Venice was a nice break of gout, murder, and excommunication.

This was a very interesting tale. It is one of those that takes far longer than necessary to set up and not enough on the interesting parts. For example, in the beginning, a lot is focused on Maddalena, the older of the two main characters (sisters), taking violin lessons. Towards the end, she becomes a violin teacher, and less is spent on her time doing
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Pamela
From concertos to cancer, The Four Seasons presents a sweeping account of the lives of women in early eighteenth-century Venice. Maddalena and Chiaretta are abandoned as children by their courtesan mother and raised at the famous Ospedale della Pietà, where foundling girls are brought up to be figlie del coro--musicians and great singers, but kept as cloistered virgins behind its walls. Chiaretta grows into a great soprano and a great beauty; the elder Maddalena (the Elinor to Chiaretta's Marian ...more
bookczuk
Sacred music is a huge part of my life-- I sing in a church choir that is becoming very well known for our renditions of some of the motets of the masters. It was interesting for me to hear the works of Vivaldi that are mentioned in this book-- they became the musical accompaniment to the prose I was reading and the images being painted by the words.

Though the story intrigued me, and the lives the two sisters each led, together and separately, I found the pace of this book somewhat uneven. And b
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Kristin
A more accurate rating for me would be 3 1/2 stars. I did like this book. I enjoyed the 2 main characters, and perhaps what I liked best about the book was the realistic portrayal of how aristocratic women fared in 17th/18th Century Venice life --meaning they either were married or entered a nunnery. For many women, neither of which a very positive experience. This book focuses on 2 women, sisters, Chiaretta and Maddalena, who are raised in a foundling orphanage/musical academy, which actually g ...more
Noelle
The Four Seasons by Laurel Corona is a book brimming with interesting protagonists and captivating descriptions of eighteenth century Venice. While Corona is fluent in the history of the period she writes, she does well to balance her work with complex characters that are universally appealing. Corona wrote her two main protagonists with care and precision. They have ambitions, faults, and are completely different from one another. This is most noticeable when the author switches narratives betw ...more
Jori Richardson
Browsing through the reviews right after I devoured this book, I was shocked to find how lukewarm they were.
"The Four Seasons" is one of my favorite books this year, and I savored every eloquent sentence of it.

It is the story of two sisters in 1700's Venice, Italy, who are taken in by a convent of nuns. One sister with a gift for music ends up being trained by Vivaldi, while the other is married to a wealthy aristocrat.

By the end of the story, I loved both sisters dearly. The characters here are
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Cari
Undoubtedly part of my high rating of this book is due to the context in which I read it - my honeymoon in Italy, which began (at the same time I started the book) in Venice. Corona does a really magnificent job of setting the scene of Venice of the early 1700s, so wandering those same "streets" and canals in 2009, I found it so much easier to glimpse the baudy, crazy, poverty- and luxury-filled lives they held so long ago. The plot moves quickly and as a loving sister myself, I was easily taken ...more
Laura
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michelle
(3.5 stars) Set in Venice in the late 1600's, the child Maddalena and her baby sister, Chiaretta are left at the Pieta. They are branded with the hospital's mark and are sent off to be fostered. When they are older, they are brought back to the Pieta to work and take lessons. While this book has a similar premise to Barbara Quick's "Vivaldi's Virgins", the story is quite different. The adjustment to partially cloistered life is difficult, but each sister makes her own path, with Chiaretta becomi ...more
Linda
Maddalena and Chiaretta were sisters left by their mother at the Ospedale della Pieta because she couldn’t care for them. There were four such ospedales in Venice to care for foundling children; the Pieta was noteworthy because Antonio Vivaldi was the music master there for a time. All of the girls were expected to take music lessons of some sort. Maddalena had a special affinity for the violin, while Chiaretta had a beautiful soprano voice. Vivaldi was impressed with Maddalena’s talent and took ...more
Jen
This started out interesting but got tedious for me, it wasn't quite what I thought it would be.

It's a story of two young girls who are abandoned at an all girls orphanage of sorts that also serves as a musical academy. Most of the book is set in the orphanage, where the oldest has grown comfortable with the limited lifestyle while the younger yearns to leave it.

I think it was the Vivaldi part that I was looking forward to the most, but that served to just disappoint me. I did not see where she
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Candice
Aug 21, 2010 Candice rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Carol, people interested in books set in Venice
This was a super piece of historical fiction. I thought it would be more about Vivaldi, but it was so well written and interesting that I wasn't disappointed. It is mostly the story of two sisters, Maddalena and Chiaretta, who are raised at the Ospedale della Pieta, Venice's foundling hospital and musical academy. Vivaldi was a maestro there for a time, and the book is set within that period. Laurel Corona goes into great detail about what life was like in the Venice of the first half of the 18t ...more
Gina
This was an enjoyable read! Two of the main characters are orphaned sisters who grow up in the Pieta, which is a church orphanage in Venice. They both show musical talent--one of them becomes a singer at the church, and the other plays violin in the church orchestra. Vivaldi is one of the teachers there, and he also writes new works for the ensembles. This book was very well-researched (given the limited info available about the daily lives of the young girls at the Pieta). It was interesting to ...more
Tkjtwmr
I really enjoy reading historical fiction--not usually as historical as this however. It was a good read, lost of personalities and a good look at Vivaldi's Venice. Well written and informative. Easy read, not too deep but enjoyable.
Marcia
A novel of 18th century Venice rich with details of life, music, Carnivale and the lives of the noble families that dictated all of society and it's pleasure. This story fictionally describes the life of Vivaldi and how his most important music was created for the Pieta, a convent-like orphanage that supported hundreds of foundling girls left on it's doorsteps. To support them the Pieta creates two things lace, and beautiful music. The story of two orphaned sisters who become passionate musician ...more
Jackie Bouchard
If you like books that take a 'footnote from history' and imagine the story behind that tiny tidbit, you'll enjoy this. It is the story of two sisters growing up in a Venice orphanage in the 1700s and the influence of Vivaldi in their lives. He teaches and writes music for the choir at the orphanage, and one of the sisters becomes his muse.

Met the author last night - a very smart, interesting woman. I knew nuthin' about Vivaldi or what life was like in Venice then, so it was a very interesting
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Zlata
A little too much depression and tragedy, makes it very realistic but still...
I'd prefer a different ending in wich more characters stay alive and happy not dead or damaged for life.
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155363
I have loved reading and writing ever since my older sister came home from first grade to teach me what she had learned that day. My first publications were in the Oakland Tribune in a weekly section for children called "Aunt Elsie's Page," and a newspaper I put out for my family which featured reviews of what I was reading and news about what was happening in the lives of my dolls.

I was lucky eno
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“Desire gives pain to the heart from which springs both hope and worry.
Out of suspicion I make mistakes that grow into lasting ills. And from my stubborn delusions come a thousand deceits, which later I accept as damage I’ve done.”
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