“Abandoned as an infant, fourteen-year-old Anna Maria dal Violin is one of the elite musicians living in the foundling home where the “Red Priest,” Antonio Vivaldi, is maestro and composer. Fiercely determined to find out where she came from, Anna Maria embarks on a journey of self-discovery that carries her into a wondrous and haunting world of music and spectacle, bringing eighteenth-century Venice magically to life.”
I found this near the train station on the side of the road one night. I was in search of a book that had a V title, so I was super excited. It didn’t hurt that it instantly made me think of Dancing for Degas. Sadly the names and the general plots of the books are drastically different.
This book followed a girl that the reader is lead to believe is an orphan who is being raised in this weird music orphanage that is run by nuns. Nuns that were also musically gifted orphans. I am a HUGE nun fan, so all the nuns made me happy. All the scenes with the nuns in it were great to me.
Anna is trying to find out who her mother is through most of the book and she is also trying to be a normal child despite the restrictions put on her by the nuns. Despite this book relying heavily on the church and nuns for the plot, there is little to no religious quoting. This book has a much more realistic view of religion than many others I have seen. What I really liked was that not all of the characters that were priests and nuns were completely perfect. There was a lot of room for error (be it a child or abusing the orphans). I much prefer realistic characters that are flawed.
The big reveal at the end was a little over kill. The reveal of who Anna’s mother is was very well done. I was very impressed with the scene right before the mother is fully revealed. That was worth reading the book for. If you read it, you will have to pay special attention to the nun on her death bed.
This book probably would have been better had I actually cared about music, Vivaldi, or Venice. However, I don’t play music. I don’t really know of any scandal around Vivaldi. I don’t really have the desire to love this book. It was well written and alternated between letters from Anna to her mother (who Anna is not sure actually gets to read the letters or not) and Anna talking many years later about the events that happened. So it switches from 14 year old Anna sulking to adult Anna remembering events. This writing style kept me reading since it felt like two different stories. I much preferred older Anna for how it was written.
I have a bone to pick with 99% of authors that write books for English speakers that are set in non-English speaking settings. Why do you mix the language of the characters and English in a way where only a few words aren’t translated when they very easily could be? Like why was kisses or mother or daughter not translated? Why were these in Italian?
3 out of 5 stars. I might recommend this book. I would just need to find the right person to recommend it to.
You can buy this book here.