The Four Seasons: A Novel of Vivaldi's Venice

The Four Seasons: A Novel of Vivaldi's Venice

by Laurel Corona


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In glittering 18th-century Venice, music and love are prized above all else—and for two sisters coming of age, the city's passions blend in intoxicating ways.

Chiaretta and Maddalena are as different as night and day. The two sisters were abandoned as babies on the steps of the Ospedale della Pietß, Venice's world-famous foundling hospital and musical academy. High-spirited and rebellious, Chiaretta marries into a great aristocratic Venetian family and eventually becomes one of the most powerful women in Venice. Maddalena becomes a violin virtuoso and Antonio Vivaldi's muse. The Four Seasons is a rich, literary imagination of the world of 18th-century Venice and the lives and loves of two extraordinary women.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781401309268
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 11/04/2008
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 1,158,249
Product dimensions: 7.92(w) x 5.36(h) x 1.06(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Laurel Corona is the author of twenty plus grade-school books and a professor of English at San Diego City College. She was a Charter Fellow at the San Diego Area Writing Project. She has a BA from University of California and an MA from University of Chicago and received her PhD from University of California. She currently lives in San Diego, CA.

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Four Seasons: A Novel of Vivaldi's Venice 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Kasthu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Four Seasons is set against the backdrop of early-18th century Venice. In it, two sisters are sent to the Ospedale della Pieta, a world-famous orphanage and musical academy. Chiaretta and Maddalena are nothing alike: one marries into one of the wealthiest families in Venice, while the other becomes a musical prodigy and muse for Antonio Vivaldi, the "Red Monk." It's a good idea, but we've definitely seen all of this before: Amanda Quick's novel, Vivaldi's Virgins: A Novel, is set in the exact same place with nearly the exact same people, and Rosalind Laker's The Venetian Mask: A Novel is set in the same place seventy-five years later, but with the same romantic themes as The Four Seasons. And Corona's writing style isn't as captivating as Laker's is. Corona's descriptions are a little vague, and the city of Venice is a little static, as opposed to the vibrant city it really is. That said, however, I enjoyed the story. It's derivative, yes, but highly addictive; despite all the book's flaws, I couldn't stop reading. The beginning of the novel is a little shaky and confusing (girls are left at the steps of the orphanage, then go out to the countryside for a reason that wasn't made entirely clear, then come back to the Pieta later), but it picks up once you've read about fifty pages or so. The strongest parts of this book are the musical descriptions; it's clear that Corona is passionate about this subject.
witchirsh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Four Seasons is a beautiful story about Venice. There may be other main characters (Vivaldi being one of them), but make no mistake - Venice is the draw in the story. Corona lays bare Venice's beauty, as well as her ugliness. Beautiful music vies for attention next to abandoned children and marriages arranged for money and convenience. The two faces of Venice as exemplified by Carnivale...and by Maddalena and her sister Chiaretta.I was drawn right into this story of the two sisters who were abandoned very young (their mother was a courtesan who was unable to keep them). They then became wards of the state, and were raised by nuns in the Pieta. One goes on to become a singer of some reknown, while the other becomes a gifted violin player. The details in the story are wonderful - in one instance, Corona describes Maddalena learning to play the violin:" By now, when she drew the bows across the strings, the tone was so sweet and rich that she sometimes forgot to breathe. Long after her lessons, she remembered how her fingers had flown and fluttered on the strings, part of something mysterious and sacred."I enjoyed this novel - it is sensuous without being sexual, and the characters truly seem to come alive in within the imagination. The story of the sisters is so completely intertwined with that of Venice herself that to imagine one without the other would be too difficult. I now find myself looking for other stories that depict Vivaldi and/or the Venice that he knew. I hope that this will not be the last novel that Ms. Corona gives us!Brava!
bachaney on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Laurel Corona's "The Four Seasons" tells the story of two orphaned girls who are brought up in a cloistered girls only home/school in 18th century Venice. The specialty of the school is music--and when Vivaldi, the great 18th Century composer--shows up at the school and recognizes the girls' talents, their worlds are turned upside down. The novel follows the girls for almost 40 years as their lives change and intersect with Vivaldi's. Corona's story is interesting, but underdeveloped. She picks a rich historical period, and she lovingly describes both Venice and the music which fills her novel, but she has a harder time with characters. Most of the characters--including the two heroines--are flat, one dimensional, and frankly, a little dull. I kept expecting one of them to do something unexpected--it is VENICE after all--but they are both just so good, and unwilling to stand up against the world. I know a lot of this characterization is what was "expected" of women during that period, but this is a NOVEL and it would be good to have some excitement. Without real excitement, the novel seems to plod along at times, simply telling the passage of time and not a story. If half stars were an option, I probably would have given this book 3.5 stars, since I did enjoy most of the story. But it can be slow at times and its not the best written historical fiction I've ever read. I would recommend this book to Vivaldi fans, fans of the period, or Venice fans (yes there are courtesans).
cacky on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Love Venice and Vivaldi, but was extremely disappointed in the book. I had hoped the book focused on Vivaldi and on di coro del Pieta, but instead it focused on two orphaned sisters, Maddalena and Chiaretta. And while Chiaretta sings with the choir and Maddalena is a prodigy of Vivaldi, their characters seemed to overshadow what I was looking for from the book.
joririchardson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Browsing through the reviews right after I devoured this book, I was shocked to find how lukewarm they were."The Four Seasons" is one of my favorite books this year, and I savored every eloquent sentence of it.It is the story of two sisters in 1700's Venice, Italy, who are taken in by a convent of nuns. One sister with a gift for music ends up being trained by Vivaldi, while the other is married to a wealthy aristocrat.By the end of the story, I loved both sisters dearly. The characters here are strong and grounded, and we see them grow up, go through both hardships and triumphs, and grow old.And finally - a book that truly captures historical Venice! Corona truly transports us back in time to my favorite city on earth. This book really is just gorgeous. Every chapter is seeped in sweeping, elegant, beautiful wording that I would probably read just for how beautiful it was - regardless of the quality of other elements like plot and characters.Laurel Corona, who even has a pretty name to match her style, is also the very first author who has captured music in words.With her descriptions, I felt that I could close my eyes and feel, rather than hear, the music. It was a feeling that I have never before come across, but it added a lot to the story. I was surprised to read, in the back, that the author knew little musically.The relationships in this book are well woven as well. The sisterly loyalty and fierce devotion between Chiaretta and Maddalena, the drawn out and reluctant love story between Maddalena and Vivaldi, and the sacrificial and confused love story between Chiaretta and her husband.The other main characters of this book are not people, however. They are music and Venice. They go beyond the story and become the soul and basis of the entire book.A gorgeous, well written story, and a favorite. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There are so many facets to this story - the bond between the sisters, the descriptions of their cloistered lives, the pictures painted by the words used to describe the music, and the flavor of Venice at the time of Vivaldi. I became engrosed with the story. It carried me along with the rhythm of the music that was always in the background yet an integral part of the story.
jpcoggins More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book!  I have always been curious about "The Red Priest" and LOVE Vivaldi's Four Seasons composition; one of my favorites!  But the backdrop to the story was the big surprise, the Pieta where the two main characters grow up in a cloistered environment and one is trained on the violin and the other as a singer.  Set against the extravagances of Venice and Carnivale, where a master like Vivaldi is forced to travel to earn his keep as a genius composer, and women have little control over their futures, especially if they come from wealthy families.  It was so interesting!  I was also surprised at the religious thread in the story.  The writing is a little slow, but stick with it because the entire story is worth it!
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Denise_Alhambra More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this book to anyone that is interested in the passion that drives people. Whether it is their passion to express themselves in the form of music, or the love they have to share with another which may or may not be consummated as well as the love they share with their sister. Being a sister and understanding the complexities of sisterhood, has only enhanced my reading experience of this book. I found the characters to be compelling and I thought the author brought the music of Venice to life for me.