Monday, November 03, 2008

A Venetian Affair by Andrea Di Robilant

A Venetian Affair: A True Tale of Forbidden Love in the 18th CenturyA True Tale of Forbidden Love in the 18th Century
Genre: Non Fiction Historical
Copyright: 18th Dec 2007
Pages: 291
Read: November 2008 
My Rating: 1 star 

Synopsis: In the waning days of Venice’s glory in the mid-1700s, Andrea Memmo was scion to one the city’s oldest patrician families. At the age of twenty-four he fell passionately in love with sixteen-year-old Giustiniana Wynne, the beautiful, illegitimate daughter of a Venetian mother and British father. Because of their dramatically different positions in society, they could not marry. And Giustiniana’s mother, afraid that an affair would ruin her daughter’s chances to form a more suitable union, forbade them to see each other. Her prohibition only fueled their desire and so began their torrid, secret seven-year-affair, enlisting the aid of a few intimates and servants (willing to risk their own positions) to shuttle love letters back and forth and to help facilitate their clandestine meetings. Eventually, Giustiniana found herself pregnant and she turned for help to the infamous Casanova–himself infatuated with her. 

Two and half centuries later, the unbelievable story of this star-crossed couple is told in a breathtaking narrative, re-created in part from the passionate, clandestine letters Andrea and Giustiniana wrote to each other

My Thoughts: 
I had high expectations for this book based on the glowing reviews but only finished the book through sheer stubbornness and the hope of seeing what other reviewers saw. 

I gave the book 1 star only because of the history lesson, the one palatable factor in this otherwise long, dry chew! The reader learns (if they have the staying power) about 18th Century European life & the rigid social structure of the Venetian Republic. The highlight for me was the interactions between the protagonists and Giacoma Casanova. 

Di Robilant makes his nonfiction debut with the true story of the forbidden love affair between of one of his ancestors, Venetian noble Andrea Memmo and 16 year old Giustiniana Wynne, based upon the letters passed between the two lovers. I found Andrea and Giustiniana to be narcisstic, fickle & duplicitous. Their casual faithlessness made their written declarations of 'undying love' and 'soul mate' ring hollow and the actual "love letters" were monotonous in the extreme. 

Recommended for anyone with a passion for watching paint dry or grass grow


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