Skip to main content

Review: A Venetian Affair, by Andrea Di Robilant

This is a captivating love story, one that shouldn't be missed. Andrea Di Robilant weaves a superb tale of his ancestor, based upon the letters passed between the two lovers. What seemed amazing to me was that the letters remained for years and years in the library of Randolph-Macon College. (I was also surprised to learn that, incidentally, the author's mother went to the same college I went to, no big feat since it is relatively unknown).

It is the story of the illicit love affair between Andrea and Giustiniana, which began in 1754. Banned from seeing one another, they must communicate surreptitiously, stealing embraces and kisses whenever they can. They must hide especially from the eagle eyes of Giustiniana's Greek- English mother, Anna, who won't allow her daughter to marry a member of the Venetian aristocracy. Di Robilant also puts in excerpts from the two lovers' letters, giving the reader a sense of proximity to this book, which reads more like a novel than a straightforward book on history. The use of masks in 18th century culture is indicative of the way in which Andrea and Giustiniana must conduct their affair.

Its a beautifully written story, one of passion, jealousy, and, especially, love. I was enchanted by the language Di Robilant used to bring this story to life on the page, and by the masterful way in which he carried it out. Di Robilant catches the air of mid-18th century Venice perfectly: the salons, the balls, and the intrigues. It will keep you reading from stormy, sudden beginning to stormy, sudden ending.


Anonymous said…
Yes! I am putting this on my wishlist! I keep reading 'eh' books about Venice, and I've been looking for one that is actually good.
Amy said…
this looks good...i love doomed love affairs.:)
Jane said…
Thanks for the review! Good luck with your move. You certainly packed well!
Oh dear! I have to disagree with you on this one (and we usually have VERY similar opinions too). I listened to the audio version and I was really bored by it. Yes it was fascinating, yes I really WANTED to love it, but alas ...

I think it was really the ending (or lack thereof?) that did me in. I won't give any spoilers for those who haven't read it, but I was quite disappointed in this one.

Ah well, different strokes and all that jazz ... :)
Anonymous said…
The sounds like a good one when in the mood for romance!
Teddy Rose said…
Excellent review! This one is on my TBR.
Anonymous said…
I'm with Jen - this may be the book about Venice I've been looking for! Thanks for the heads-up.
Anna said…
This sounds like a great book! I think I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the review!

--Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is an old dotard, her third locks her up in the house for days and won't let her out; and the last is a fop who a…

Review: This Rough Magic, by Mary Stewart

Pages: 254Original date of publication: 1964My edition: 1964 (William Morrow)Why I decided to read: it was 90 degrees outside at the time and I decided it was time to read another book by a favorite authorHow I acquired my copy: from Susanna Kearsley, December 2009Sometimes, whether or not I decide to read a book depends on the weather. Mary Stewart’s books are best read on either very hot or very cold days; and since it was 90 degrees out one weekend a couple of weeks ago, I decided that this one would be perfect. And it was.This Rough Magic takes its title from The Tempest, a play from which this novel takes off. Lucy Waring is a struggling actress who comes to visit her sister on Corfu. One of her neighbors is a renowned actor who’s taken a bit of a sabbatical and his son, a musician with whom Lucy comes to blows at first. This Rough Magic is vintage Mary Stewart, with a murder or two, a mystery, romance, suspense, and lots of magic thrown in. Lucy is your typical Mary Stewart hero…

Review: Joy in the Morning, by Betty Smith

Pages: 294
Original date of publication: 1963
My edition: 2010 (Harper Perennial)
Why I decided to read:
How I acquired my copy: Barnes and Noble, Phoenix, January 2011

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is one of my all-time favorite books and I’ve read it, oh, half a dozen times, so I was interested to see how Joy in the Morning would compare.

Set in the late 1920s, Joy in the Morning begins when Annie, aged 18, comes to a small Midwestern college town where her fiancĂ©e, Carl, is in law school. The novel opens with their marriage in the county courthouse, and follows the couple through their first year or so of marriage. It’s a struggle, because Carl and Annie are basically children themselves, for all the ways in which Carl tries to appear more adult-like.

Annie is endearing; she’s ignorant but a voracious reader, reading everything from Babbitt to War and Peace. Betty Smith’s novels are pretty autobiographical; Joy in the Morning is (unofficially) a kind of sequel to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn—cert…