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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

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  1,164 ratings  ·  158 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
Paperback, 291 pages
Published April 12th 2005 by Vintage (first published 2003)
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Average rating 3.48  · 
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 ·  1,164 ratings  ·  158 reviews

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Mar 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: set-in-italy
Palazzo Mocenigo was Byron's home when he lived in Venice. It was also the home of this author's father who one day found a cache of frayed compacted letters in the attic. They were love letters from an English woman with dubious lineage called Giustiniana Wynne and addressed to a Venetian nobleman called Andrea Memmo. Both were already known to history through their relationship with Casanova. The letters were written in cypher and the author's father set about decoding them. Then, one day, he ...more
Mar 22, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Apr 23, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 som
Helen Carolan
Dec 11, 2016 rated it it was ok
How disappointing was this book!!! Dull, very slow & boring, and it kept repeating itself.
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
The story line itself has some interesting bits but overall, the writing is very tedious. I continued to push on and read to the end in hopes it would improve - it didn’t.
Jul 31, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 27, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
The description on the back of the cover makes this book seem like it is written in novel form, but it is most definitely not. It reads more like someone is telling you a story and they forgot to leave out all of the minute, unimportant details. I only read about 50 pages, but the information in those pages could have been reduced to about three. Unless you have times to waste, don't read this book.
Mar 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-nonfiction
The author's father found a stash of letters in the family's old Palazzo in Venice. The letters, written in 18th century Venice, detailed a forbidden romance between the author's ancestor--a Venetian nobleman and a half English beauty. This book provides rich detail about the history and mores that existed in the Venetian city/state during that period of time. A fascinating read.
Jo Wheater
Oct 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written. I thoroughly enjoyed it and hated putting it down to go to work. Fascinating story
Jun 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 details an ...more
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 ext
Kate Forsyth
Feb 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical, biography
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
Jessica Shepherd
May 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was drawn into this book because I love the intimacy of written letters. The act of reading them almost feels forbidden, like peeking into someone's house, we see their private world normally shielded from view. Plus, it's practically a lost art nowadays. Anyhow... intrigue, drama, passion...this book has all the right ingredients for any love story, but it's better than fiction because it actually happened. The story is pieced together through love letters, many written by an accomplished aut ...more
Apr 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: venice, italy, biography
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 nee
Jul 23, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Following the advice of a blog post or Medium article (I can't remember which), I've begun to quit books that I don't like after the 50 pages mark instead of trying to slog through them. There are some books that I've gone back to after getting frustrated or angry, trying multiple times to read them, and then finally happily succeeding. However, my ceasing to read those books wasn't from boredom, but from faulty expectation of where the story was going. This surrender was due to pure ennui.
May 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 11, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
Dec 04, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
May 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Amanda Fucello
Mar 18, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: partial-read
I was recommended this by a friend whom I trust as she has recommended a book I recently LOVED and could not put down. This one, however interested I was in it, just could not hold my attention. I t sounds interesting; its based on love letters discovered by the author of his great grandfather and his forbidden lover. Sounds great, right? It all takes place in 18th century Venice, where social customs are rigidly Victorian almost. Yeah, but no, this was super boring. I normally love historical n ...more
Oct 10, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: bio, books-i-own
interesting, but rather long and drawn out
Jun 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 13, 2012 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 30, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to the reviews I didn't expect to find a love story so much as a testimony to history and politics of the times, and how they can and did affect what might have been an easily procured relationship in modern times. The differences between the then and the now are many; and, in many ways, still the same. Thanks to modern mindsets and thus lower standards it's no longer a problem for many to marry above their 'station', nor is it necessary for an 'unsuitable' young woman to marry a much old ...more
Apr 05, 2019 rated it liked it
3 1/2 stars. This review is based on the audio version narrated by Paul Hecht. The author’s father found a trove of old letters in the attic of their family’s former home in Venice. In the 1700’s di Robilant’s ancestor, also named Andrea, had a decades-long affair with Giustiniana. Because she was below his social ranking, they couldn’t marry. But that didn’t stop them from illicitly meeting and sending letters to each other. For decades. In multiple cities and countries. For decades. And someon ...more
Sep 10, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
I’m bailing at 56 pages. The thought of picking this back up and slogging through it fills me with dread. The premise, a forbidden love affair in 18th century Venice as told through actual love letters, sounds promising. The execution, on the other hand, is flat, dry and boring. The lovers seem more petty and narcissistic than star crossed and ill fortuned. I just can’t- life is short and there are many more books to be read!! On to the next one!
Nov 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slow start...

Slow to start,but once the story picked up stream, I was riveted. We've all had those "what if" situations,and this story is just that. My heart broke for the two lovers who could never aquire the permission of either the government,society,or the families all lined up like the stars and planets, to live their life together. I truly felt sorry for them both.
Jul 31, 2018 rated it liked it
It was very Romeo and Juliet- forbidden love at its finest. Also, a true story from the author- a decedent of the main character Andrea Memmo. If you love love of the forbidden kind, this is for you!
Nov 05, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: to-sell
Wanted to love this, but it was too tedious to get through. Stopped after about one third...
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very good and historic love story. xo
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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.