Playing By Heart

Playing By Heart

by Carmela Martino


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Emilia Salvini dreams of marrying a man who loves music as much as she does. But in 18th-century Milan, being the "second sister" means she'll likely be sent to a convent instead. Emilia's only hope is to prove her musical talents crucial to her father's quest for nobility. First, though, she must win over her music tutor, who disdains her simply for being a girl. But before she can carry out her plan, a tragedy sends the family into mourning.

In her sorrow, Emilia composes a heartrending sonata that causes the maestro to finally recognize her talent. He begins teaching her music theory alongside Antonio Bellini, the arrogant great-nephew of a wealthy marquis. Emilia's feelings toward her rival gradually change as she strives to outdo him. But just when her dreams seem within reach, Emilia learns that her success could destroy not only her future but her sister's life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781546799450
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 09/11/2017
Pages: 278
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Carmela Martino is an author, speaker, and writing teacher who lives in the Chicago area. She wrote the middle-grade novel, Rosa, Sola, while working on her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults at Vermont College. The novel was named a Booklist "Top Ten First Novel for Youth" and received the Catholic Writer's Guild Seal of Approval.

Her other credits for children and teens include short stories and poems in magazines and anthologies. Her articles for adults have appeared in such publications as the Chicago Tribune, Catholic Parent, Writer's Digest, and multiple editions of the annual Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market.

Carmela has taught writing workshops for children and adults since 1998, and she blogs about teaching and writing at You can read more about her at and follow her on Facebook at

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Playing By Heart 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful historical fiction book, esquisitly detailed, perfect for middle school/high school age but also a great read for adults, hard to put down.
AJCattapan More than 1 year ago
I loved this story for several reasons. First of all, I love that it took me right to Italy in the 18th century. At the time this story takes place, Italy wasn't a unified country yet, but this story set in Milan still made me feel like I was back in good old Italia! There's a good sprinkling of Italian words throughout, but don't worry if you haven't studied any Italian. There's a glossary of terms at the back. Second, I love that this story is based (albeit loosely) on two real-life sisters, and that the author works historical events into the story. For example, she includes an actual visit that the Archduchess Maria Teresa made to Milan at that time and makes it fit perfectly with the tale of these two sisters. Third, I love that this story shows a little "girl power" at a time when girls had little power over their own lives. It's true that their father is using them for his own gains, but the girls are well educated and trained at a time when most were only taught "housekeeping" skills. Finally, who doesn't enjoy a sweet romance with a quiet but handsome young man and a beautiful and talented girl who is up for the challenge of proving her own self-worth? Playing by Heart is a beautifully composed tale of love, faith, and family!
TheresaLinden More than 1 year ago
Filled with beautiful scenes and heart-wrenching moments, PLAYING BY HEART by Carmela Martino is an absorbing story of perseverance, the pursuit of excellence, and of sacrificial love. This story shows the dreams and trials of two talented sisters. Emilia excels in music. But her father's and the maestro's attitudes lead her to feel inadequate. So she finds herself envious of the praise and attention given to her older sister. Maria, the older sister, is humble and faith-filled. And while she loves studying languages and philosophy, she longs to enter religious life and serve the poor. But this is an age where the father chooses the vocation of his children. Emilia and Maria’s father, driven to gain the title and status of a nobleman, makes choices that move him closer to his goals but farther from theirs. The characters were inspired by two historical sisters who lived in the eighteenth century, so I appreciate the author’s faithfulness to research and time-period details. The engaging prose brings the scenes to life in full color! I especially loved how the descriptions took me into the heart and mind of Emilia, a talented young musician who “heard music everywhere—in the whispering of the wind and the rustling of the trees.” I also appreciated the way faith is weaved into the story.