The Four Seasons
Two sisters, Chiaretta and Maddalena, are abandoned at a religious foundling home in 18th-century Venice. The Pietà raises its orphans to perform in their prestigious choir. Chiaretta becomes a celebrated soloist, and Maddalena finds joy in the violin. Vivaldi, composer and priest, notices Maddalena’s talent; the two grow close, and he encourages her. He writes special music for her, and the nuns frown on their relationship. Then one day he leaves Venice without saying goodbye.
Beautiful and willful, Chiaretta experiences a glimpse of Venice and yearns to be a part of this exciting world. Her voice attracts a marriage proposal from a son of one of the city’s most powerful families. She accepts, but finds herself in a swirl of intrigues that endanger her marriage. Maddalena rises in importance at the Pietà through her violin expertise until word of Vivaldi’s return threatens her newfound peace.
The novel would benefit from more descriptions of Venice and the historical and political factions that shaped the city at this time, and of the Pietà in particular. I wanted to know more about Vivaldi as well. It is a leisurely read, but the lovely prose, along with the sisters’ emotions and attachment to one another, kept me turning the pages.