Vienna Nocturne

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17974970

Vienna Nocturne

by Vivien Shotwell

published by Ballantine Books

2014

I received this book from the publisher through Librarything in exchange for an honest review.

Summary

In late-eighteenth-century London, a young girl takes her first singing lessons with a mysterious castrato in exile. Her life is forever changed. Having learned everything he can teach her, Anna leaves behind all the security and familiarity of home and journeys to Naples and Venice to struggle and triumph in Italy’s greatest opera houses. Only sixteen, she finds herself in an intoxicating world of theaters, nobility, and vice, overwhelmed by her newfound freedom and fame. Her first bitter experience of love and heartbreak inevitably follow. 

Within a few years, Anna is invited to sing in Vienna, the City of Music, by the emperor himself. There, in a teasing game of theft and play, Anna first meets Mozart, a young virtuoso pianist and striving, prodigiously talented composer. They are matched in intellect and talent, and an immediate and undeniable charge forms between the two, despite both being married to others. 

As her star rises in Vienna and her personal life deteriorates, Anna experiences an ultimate crisis. During this trying time, her only light is Mozart: his energy, his determination in her, and his art. She, in turn, becomes his hope and inspiration, and his joy, as he writes for her some of his most exquisite and enduring arias—music that will live on as his masterworks. 

Rich in historical detail and beautifully wrought by Vivien Shotwell, an author who is herself an opera singer, Vienna Nocturne is a dramatic tour de force of a woman’s struggle to find love and fame in an eighteenth-century world that controls and limits her at every turn.

My Review

Vienna Nocturne is a well written historical fiction novel by first time author Vivien Shotwell, a classically trained singer.  It tells the story of real life English soprano Anna Storace, and imagines a very complex and loving relationship between the singer and the composer Wolfgang Mozart.  This is a wonderful story of live, passion, and music.  The love between Anna and Mozart was so beautifully written,even though no actual evidence exists  that Mozart and Storace had an affair, he did write some of his most beautiful arias for her, including the role of Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro.   I would definitely recommend this book, especially if you enjoy opera and/or historical fiction.

More about the author

website
Vivien Shotwell is a classically trained singer with degrees from Williams College, the Yale School of Music, and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow. As an undergraduate voice student at Williams, Shotwell first sang the beautiful aria “Non temer, amato bene” (“Don’t fear, greatly beloved”), which Mozart wrote for and performed with the young soprano Anna Storace, and knew she had to tell their story. A daughter of independent booksellers, Shotwell was born in Colorado, raised in Nova Scotia, and now divides her time between Halifax, Nova Scotia, and New Haven, Connecticut. This is her first novel.
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