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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

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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
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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
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