June Ahern's Reviews > Vivaldi's Muse

Vivaldi's Muse by Sarah Bruce Kelly
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's review
Apr 18, 2012

it was amazing
Read from April 18 to 29, 2012

Sarah Bruce Kelly's novel, Vivaldi's Muse, is a love story set in eighteenth century Italy. It is more than a love between a man and woman. It is also the love of the man and the woman for the operatic music they create together. Since I enjoy historical novels I was pleased from the very start of this well written novel. I must say that although the book is fictional, I did learn from the in her `Afterward', it has historical facts and is based on the life of Father Antonio Vivaldi and his longtime protégé, Annina Giro.

The story begins in 1741 in Vienna where we meet Annina Giro, the woman who the story is about. She is in St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna. To my reading delight, from page one, Ms. Kelly's vivid visual creation of a place and time is quickly established. "In the eerie glow of foredawn the dragon-like gargoyles, whose sinister glares had greeted her..." drew me right into Annina's emotional state of mind and heart.

The reader must know more about this woman and therefore Kelly takes us back in history of Annina to Northern Italy 1719 where a nine-year-old Annina first meets Father Vivaldi who will become her music and voice teacher. He is a young intriguing priest and is referred to by many as "prete rosso" - the red-haired priest.

I do appreciate how the author uses Italian words and phrases with a quick translation following. Not only does it bring life to a place and people, but one can practice her Italian for future use.

Father Vivaldi is the resident composer at the court of Mantua, Annina's home town. The young girl is ripe for a person such as Father in her life. The problems at home are repressing for the budding singer. Her father is weak in comparison to the overbearing unhappy mother, her much older sister tries to keep the household going and the two young adult step-brothers are partying animals still dependent upon the father financially and draining the coffers quickly. A true dysfunctional father and a operatic tragedy in itself. Nothing stops the young girl to dream of one day becoming an operatic star.

When Father Vivaldi meets Annina and is smitten as he hears her sing and recognizes great possibility for her future in music. Soon the duo, the Venetian maestro and the star struck talented girl become inseparable to create a story of passion, trial and error and many challenges.

Jealousy surrounds Annina as she struggles in Venice (where she must travel to be schooled). Divas everywhere and soon she and Father are victims to vicious rumors and gossip. Is he more than a teacher? Has Father stepped out of his vows of chastity for the every-growing beauty? Kelly writes, "He wore a priest's collar, but the rest of clothing was like any other man's."

Is Annina true to her purpose to become a diva? Or, does the attraction for Father take her off course as she struggles to take main roles in Italy's opera scene. It is a very difficult road for the two.

Annina suffers from bullying of the worst kind and all alone without her family in Venice where she is sent to music school. It is sadly irritating how the adults in charge don't come to her help except for the Father. His belief in her singing encourages his own goal, to write beautiful and memorable operatic music.

Money and power surround the music scene - just like today. Annina must have rich sponsors if she is to continue her dream. An older member of the court becomes her sponsor and in return he believes the young teen will grant him "favors". She sidesteps him for as long as she can until he demands his rewards for his money gifts. This changes the course of her life in Venice as she knew it.

The author's descriptions of her characters is as enticing as the ones of Italy's most enticing places - Venice - during an historical time of music and art. Kelly's tour weaved into the story is colorfully intriguing to me. I haven't been to Venice - yet- and I do love to read about the great city. Kelly writes, "Fiametta led the little group a short distance along the Riva degli Schiavoni, past Piazza San Marco." And in keeping with the story's theme Kelly describes life in the city: "The streets were alive with song. A man peddling roast pumpkins hawked his offering to a melody that pulled at her heartstrings. A fruit vendor warbled `Melons with hearts on fire!' "

I'm ready for Venice whether I hear and see this in person or in memory of Vivaldi's Muse. Are you in?

I recommend reading Vivaldi's Muse. Enjoy!
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Reading Progress

04/27/2012 "I have completed the novel and will write a favorable review very soon."
06/23/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Mary (new)

Mary June, once again you have captured my interest in one of your reviews. I always look for them because I always end of loving the books as much as you do. I would say that we are kindred spirits in our reading.

The last time you reviewed "Prayers for Sale" I was not disappointed in the book. Now I will try this one also. Keep them coming and I can't wait for City of Redemption to be out in ebook format!

June Ahern Mary wrote: "June, once again you have captured my interest in one of your reviews. I always look for them because I always end of loving the books as much as you do. I would say that we are kindred spirits in ..."
Funny you say about kindred souls because when I see books, I think of you. How strange is that? You are on to something. When I come to Florid, I hope we can meet. I'm in or near Boca - how far are you?

message 3: by Mary (new)

Mary Oh, Boca is about 2-l/2 to 3 hours away, but you come to Florida and I will make the trip to Boca to meet my kindred spirit! For sure!

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