There is a quote that says some books “just swallow you up, heart and soul.” "The Violinist of Venice" by Alyssa Palombo is one of those books. For me, anyway. I loved this book! And I hated every moment I was forced to put it down. I read several chapters of this book at a time, wanting more and more of this story.
This novel is more than just a story of a woman falling in love with one of history’s most brilliant violinists. It is also the story of a woman forced to remain “in the shadows” only because of her gender. It is the men in her time who are able to freely go about the city of Venice, have careers, be something important like a musician, travel anywhere and be noticed. For Adriana, it is not enough for her to be able to play a violin well and love the music. Being a woman means she cannot pursue her dreams of being a musician or a composer – as it is, there aren’t any female composers in her time. While it is true that things are different these days – women can now be musicians, violinists and even composers – there is still, unfortunately, a way we women still have to go in order to break down discrimination, old fashioned thinking and chauvinistic attitudes towards our gender that continue to hold us back so that we can attain the same footing men have been able to achieve in this world. (This, at a time a woman is running for President of the United States and many in the media are trying to promote an evil image of her.) So in this way, it is a story many girls and women might relate to. It’s a nice thought that things are different nowadays but women still do have far to go to break past all the walls and the stigmas thrown up in our faces.
This story was very good and, much like a musical performance, it swept me away through a whirlwind of emotions. It made me happy, excited, angry, embarrassed, hopeful, scared, nervous, sad (even tearful), and regretful. I was so pulled into this story that it was like the fictional world of 17th and 18th century Venice came to life for me. I was disappointed by the ending but it was still a very good novel to read and most certainly a story I will not soon forget.
Like most 18th century Venetians, Adriana d'Amato adores music-except her strict merchant father has forbidden her to cultivate her gift for the violin. But she refuses to let that stop her from living her dreams and begins sneaking out of her family's palazzo under the cover of night to take violin lessons from virtuoso violinist and composer Antonio Vivaldi. However, what begins as secret lessons swiftly evolves into a passionate, consuming love affair.
Adriana's father is intent on seeing her married to a wealthy, prominent member of Venice's patrician class-and a handsome, charming suitor, whom she knows she could love, only complicates matters-but Vivaldi is a priest, making their relationship forbidden in the eyes of the Church and of society. They both know their affair will end upon Adriana's marriage, but she cannot anticipate the events that will force Vivaldi to choose between her and his music. The repercussions of his choice-and of Adriana's own choices-will haunt both of their lives in ways they never imagined.
Spanning more than 30 years of Adriana's life, Alyssa Palombo's The Violinist of Venice is a story of passion, music, ambition, and finding the strength to both fall in love and to carry on when it ends.