Skip to main content

Review: The Four Seasons, by Laurel Corona


The Four Seasons is set against the backdrop of early-18th century Venice. In it, two sisters are sent to the Ospedale della Pieta, a world-famous orphanage and musical academy. Chiaretta and Maddalena are nothing alike: one marries into one of the wealthiest families in Venice, while the other becomes a musical prodigy and muse for Antonio Vivaldi, the “Red Monk.”

It’s a good idea, but we’ve definitely seen all of this before: Barbara Quick’s novel, Vivaldi’s Virgins, is set in the exact same place with nearly the exact same people, and Rosalind Laker’s The Venetian Mask is set in the same place seventy-five years later, but with the same romantic themes as The Four Seasons. And Corona’s writing style isn’t as captivating as Laker’s is. Corona's descriptions are bautiful, if a little vague, and the city of Venice in the novel is a little static as opposed to the vibrant city that it is.

That said, however, I enjoyed the story. It’s derivative, yes, but highly addictive; despite all the book’s flaws, I couldn’t stop reading. The beginning of the novel is a little shaky and confusing (girls are left at the steps of the orphanage, then go out to the countryside for a reason that wasn’t made entirely clear, then go back to the Pieta later), but it picks up once you’ve read about fifty pages or so. The strongest parts of the book are the musical descriptions; it's clear that Corona is passionate about the subject.

Comments

Barbara Quick said…
Hi Katherine,

Wanted to note that VIVALDI'S VIRGINS was written by Barbara (not Amanda) Quick.

Many of the foundlings of the Pieta were sent out to the country to be nursed and fostered by families paid by the State to take care of them until they reached the age of 10--at which time they returned to continue their education.

I would certainly encourage readers interested in learning more to check out my web site:
http://www.BarbaraQuick.com

VIVALDI'S VIRGINS is now available in a paperback edition--convenient for book groups!

Cheers,
Barbara
Well you've managed to add two books to my wishlist with one post. Vivaldi's Virgins has been in the back of my mind for some time and now I'd like to take a peek at The Four Seasons, too. :)
Katherine said…
Thanks, Barbara, for pointing out the name thing!

Michelle: Also check out the Rosalind Laker, I thought it was pretty good.
Teddy Rose said…
Thanks for the wonderful review. I have this as well as Vivaldi's Virgins on my TBR.

We featured an interview with Barbara Quick last month on Historical Tapestry. It was very interesting.

Here's the link:

http://historicaltapestry.blogspot.com/2008/10/interview-with-barbara-quick.html

Popular posts from this blog

2015 Reading

January
1. The Vanishing Witch, by Karen Maitland
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

February
1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

March
1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Miss Buncle's Book, by DE Stevenson
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garc…

2016 Reading

January:
1. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
2. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
3. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
4. Liar: A Memoir, by Rob Roberge

February:
1. The Forsyte Saga, by John Galsworthy
2. Girl in the Woods, by Aspen Matis
3. She Left Me the Gun, by Emma Brockes
4. Because of the Lockwoods, by Dorothy Whipple
5. The Chronology of Water, by Lidia Yuknavitch
6. To Show and to Tell, by Philip Lopate

March:
1. Fierce Attachments, by Vivian Gornick
2. Too Brief a Treat, by Truman Capote
3. On the Move: a Life, by Oliver Sacks
4. The Go-Between, by LP Hartley
5. The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr
6. Giving Up the Ghost, by Hilary Mantel
7. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
8. The Great American Bus Ride, by Irma Kurtz
9. An Unquiet Mind, by Kay Radfield Jamison
10. A Widow's Story, by Joyce Carol Oates
11. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder
12. The Liar's Club, by Mary Karr
13. An American Childhood, by Annie Dillard
14. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972Originally published: 1944My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press)How I acquired my copy: Amazon.com, 2004

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…