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Vivaldi's Virgins: A Novel


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About the Author

Writer and poet Barbara Quick is the author of the novels Vivaldi's Virgins and Northern Edge, winner of the Discover Prize. A Golden Web is her first book for teen readers. An avid traveler and student of other languages, she has run an international boardinghouse; written everything from self-help books to humor columns to grant requests for disadvantaged children; and done whatever jobs she needed to do -- from landscape gardening to catering to editing -- to allow her to continue writing. She lives with her teenage son, Julian, in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she takes frequent classes and occasionally performs with a Brazilian dance troupe.


In Venice's crumbling waterways, the Ospedale della Pieta is a foundling orphanage that takes in all children, be they from noble families or homeless. In 1709, Anna Maria dal Violin is the star of the coro, the Pieta's musical ensemble of voices and musicians, which is the jewel of Venice. Her violin master is none other than "Red Priest" Antonio Vivaldi. And while Anna plays with the skill and emotion that makes her a star, her willful independence keeps her status low within the walls of the orphanage as she tries to balance finding the truth, becoming a woman, and being allowed to play the music so much a part of her soul. Quick, who has written for newspapers like the New York Times and the San Francisco Chronicle, finely details the different aspects and classes of Venetian society, especially delving into the lives of the women of the Pieta. The rich tapestry of Venice unfolds before us so that we can take in all the decadence and excitement of La Serenissima in its last great era. Recommended for all fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 3/15/07.]-Anna M. Nelson, Collier Cty. P.L., Naples, FL Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

"Quick has chosen a fascinating backdrop. Her novel shimmers...This is a good read." -- Booklist "Quick's descriptions of Anna Maria's violin playing soar off the page, evoking Vivaldi's own compositions." -- San Francisco Chronicle "A genuine successor to [Tracy Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring]." -- Houston Chronicle

Quick (Northern Edge) takes readers into the cloistered world of the Ospedale della Pieta, a convent orphanage and music school. Narrator Anna Maria dal Violin, an actual violin prodigy and 18th-century resident of the Venetian Pieta, is among the orphanage girls who studies under maestro (and priest) Antonio Vivaldi. Anna Maria's strong spirit shines throughout, whether stealing into the Jewish ghetto to learn about her parents, struggling to master Vivaldi's grueling violin passages or doing penance for her independent nature. Quick creates a hauntingly authentic setting rife with cruel punishments and brief moments of grand rewards. Anna Maria's quest to discover her identity is the centerpiece, though readers may find it less intriguing than the other story lines (among them Vivaldi's relationship with renowned young singer Anna Giro). It's a noble effort that misses a few high notes. (July) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Adult/High School-The 18th-century world of Venice and famed composer Antonio Vivaldi come to life in this novel. The story depicts the imagined life of the real Anna Maria dal Violin, an orphan at the Ospedale della Piet... who was his renowned pupil. Through Anna Maria's eyes, Quick introduces readers to the dazzling world of Venetian society, but she does not flinch from portraying the darker side of a city in decline. Anna Maria experiences a life of ambiguity. As an orphan living a cloistered and regimented existence, she wants desperately to uncover the mystery of her mother's true identity. As she blossoms into a young woman and an amazing talent, her private pain drives her to risk all in order to discover who she really is and where she came from. Like Tracy Chevalier's Girl with a Pearl Earring (HarperCollins, 1999), this book has great appeal, especially for teenage girls; it also offers much to those readers interested in the composer and his influence on Venetian society in the early 1700s.-Catherine Gilbride, Farifax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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