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.