Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Vienna Nocturne by Vivien Shotwell

Vienna Nocturne tells the story of the turbulent life and brilliantly successful career of young British opera singer Anna Storace, a child prodigy who is taken by her parents to Italy at age thirteen to advance her career. In love with life and wildly ambitious, Anna wants everything--to be famous, to be loved--and this leads her to make some fatal choices. We watch her turn from a carefree young girl to a passionate young woman, and it is during this transformation that her affair with Mozart blossoms. The story of their love, no less powerful for being forbidden, is reminiscent of the passionate thwarted romances described in Loving Frank and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Written in melodious prose by a young author studying opera at Yale, Vienna Nocturne is dramatic story of a woman's battle to find love and fame in an 18th-century world that controls and limits her at every turn.

I truly enjoyed this biographical novel about a very gifted young woman who could sing like an angel. Anna Storace was young, impressionable, and passionate about her singing. Her career is burgeoning, perfect, and she is much beloved. Her private life however, is filled with heartache and misfortune. Left carrying a lover’s child, she marries a violinist to save her reputation. He is a brutal man and she suffers much abuse at his hands. Her health suffers and this affects her voice.

It is the brilliant composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who befriends her and comes to her rescue. Even though he is happily married, a bond grows between him and Anna. His loyalty to her lasts for the rest of her life. He is always in the background as a protector, a supporter, a faithful colleague, a lover.

The novel is beautifully written, its presentation tender, romantic, and beautifully evocative. The fashion, music, and society of the times is elegantly captured. There is depth to all the relationships between the characters, but the relationship with Mozart was beautifully rendered. What a gallant – my heart could not help but melt at his wonderful appearances. From its lovely cover to the eloquent prose, VIENNA NOCTURNE is a true treasure!

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