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A Venetian Affairby Andrea Di Robilant
"Andrea di Robilant sensibly declines to go beyond existing evidence in order to supply the kind of elegiac finale which the story seems to invite....In this uneasily shifting perspective (refreshingly free of the usual masks-and-mandolins paraphernalia surrounding most evocations of rococo Venice) the lovers' voices reverberate with a transcendent confidence and sincerity." Jonathan Keates, The Times Literary Supplement (read the entire Times Literary Supplement review)
Synopses & Reviews
"Some years ago, my father came home with a carton of old letters that time and humidity had compacted into wads of barely legible paper," Andrea di Robilant tells us as he begins this spellbinding true story of love in eighteenth-century Venice. In the attic of their old family palazzo on the Grand Canal, his father had found the love letters of their ancestor Andrea Memmo, one of the last great Venetian statesmen, to a beautiful half-English girl named Giustiniana Wynne. Some of the letters were written in code, which di Robilant and his father cracked to reveal an illicit passion: Giustiniana was not of the elite ruling class and would never have been considered a suitable match for Andrea. But their acts of devotion were startlingly brazen. As their courtship unfolds, they plot elaborate marriage schemes that offend everyone, arrange secret trysts in borrowed rooms, cause trouble for the servants who must ferry their forbidden correspondence, and even weather an unwanted pregnancy, from which Giustiniana, with her wits and ingenuity and some crucial assistance from the infamous Casanova, emerges unscathed.
Andrea di Robilant, heir to the lovers' legacy, captures them in the twilight of the golden era of Venice, with forays to the colorful social circles of London and Paris along the way. His sparkling, well-paced narrative evokes the world of mask-wearing men and ladies attending Goldoni plays and gambling at the Ridotto — bringing to life, 250 years later, a tale of unbounded passion and rich historical intrigue.
"[E]ngaging....[B]y skillfully combining well-chosen passages with historical background, di Robilant spins a lively, poignant tale that says much about life in 18th-century Venice and the social mores of the time." Publishers Weekly
"Despite a few provocative details...the tone is generally bland; even Casanova comes across as a rather dull bird on a bare branch. Strong potential, poor execution." Kirkus Reviews
"The book reads like a novel, and there are fascinating insights into the waning days of the Venetian Republic, set against a rich background of 18th-century European history and mores. Highly recommended." Library Journal
"I'd like to say that A Venetian Affair is the best novel I've read in years — it's almost as good as Les Liaisons Dangereuses — except that it happens to be true. Andrea di Robilant's story of Andrea Memmo and Giustiniana Wynne is so immediate, vivid, and powerful that it takes you inside the minds and, indeed, the bodies of its two passionate protagonists. And this, in eighteenth-century Venice, is an unforgettable place to be." Simon Schama, author of A History of Britain
"Andrea di Robilant brilliantly evokes Venice in the age of Casanova — masked balls, elegant salons, louche casinos, and social, political, and romantic intrigue. A Venetian Affair is luminous, erotic, and utterly spellbinding." John Berendt, author of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
"A Venetian Affair is an enchantment. Andrea di Robilant hasn't just brought a splendid Venetian love affair to life, he has brought eighteenth-century Europe to life, both intimately and grandly. This is narrative history at its very best." John Casey, author of The Half-life of Happiness
In this Romeo-and-Juliet tale of illicit love, a discovery of a box of 18th-century love letters leads to this true story of Andrea Memmo, a great Venetian statesman, and a beautiful half-English girl named Giustiniana Wynne.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -) and index.
About the Author
Andrea di Robilant was born in Italy and educated at Le Rosey and Columbia University, where he specialized in international affairs. He currently lives in Rome with his wife and two children and works as a correspondent for the Italian newspaper La Stampa. This is his first book.
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