The Violinist of Venice | Alyssa Palombo

Kernel Deb writes an amazingly worded prose-like review of historical romance novel, THE VIOLINIST OF VENICE: A STORY OF VIVALDI from Alyssa Palombo, a romantic fiction set in the world of Vivaldi based on rumour from history. I keep learning of all these book genres and there really is no surprise “historical romance” is one of them, other odd genres I am finding; “ergodic literature” is when the reader is an active participant in the construction of a text, “flarf poetry” or “flarfiness” is used to describe anything that could be deemed as inappropriate or politically incorrect, “Amish Romance” – yep this is a genre!! And finally “The Personification of Death Romance” – a sub genre in “Supernatural Romance” that deals with romance with death, as in the “creature” death – yep, genres are fun haha. Enough about genres, enjoy Deb’s beautiful review, THE VIOLINIST OF DEATH is out now from the peeps at Pan MacMillan Australia, it should be available in the Historical Romance section of your local bookstore or you can buy it HERE in paperback and e-book. All the best………….JK.


THE VIOLINIST OF VENICE is a story of wealth, privilege, passion, music and resilience. The novel is a sweeping historical saga set in 18th century Venice: the city of water, music, masks, deception, Patrician merchants, gondolas, palazzos, courtesans, opera and Carnevale. It spans thirty years in the life of the central protagonist, Adriana d’Amato. Illegitimacy, betrayal, sibling loyalty, and marriage all intertwine and combine making Adriana’s journey through life far from smooth. Chastity, celibacy and clerical devotion are tested along the way.


The Violinist of Venice Book Cover Image


Author Alyssa Palombo has degrees in English and creative writing. Whilst she has written several shorter historical fiction pieces which have been published in Black Lantern, Novelletum and The Great lakes Review, THE VIOLINIST OF VENICE is her first novel. Palombo is a fan of historical fiction, so it is no surprise that the novel is similar in scope and feel to those of Phillippa Gregory, Kate Forsyth and Holly Black, but in addition, Palombo is a trained classical vocalist and it is her love for music that makes this novel fresh.

Palombo says the seed for the novel about Antonio Vivaldi was a vivid dream which in essence became the first chapter of the novel. Inspired she began to research Vivaldi’s life and in doing so became intrigued by his relationship with the young opera singer Anna Giro, who was rumoured to be his mistress. In THE VIOLINIST OF VENICE Palombo has instead reframed Giro as Vivaldi’s daughter, an idea she came across in her research. Interestingly Vivaldi himself always stridently denied he and Anna Giro were lovers despite his devotion to her. Working backwards from this kernel Palombo then created her fictional central character, Adriana d’Amato, as Vivaldi’s lover and the mother of Anna.

At the beginning of the novel, Adriana, rebels against her rich, controlling merchant father by begging Maestro Vivaldi to surreptitiously teach her violin because “the violin was a voice I was given.” Vivaldi kindles her passion for music and their romance ignites. Adriana’s personal growth subsequently mirrors her mastery of the violin and later, musical composition. For Adriana courtship, socially advantageous marriage, childbearing, and living in the shadows of her father, brothers, husband, sons and lovers can be borne only if there is music.


Author Alyssa Palombo Image: Photo Credit: Taken from Palombo's own site - no photographer mentioned
Author Alyssa Palombo Image: Photo Credit: Taken from Palombo’s own site – no photographer mentioned


In THE VIOLINIST OF VENICE the reader is swept along as the social mores of Venetian society, gossip and convention threaten to quench Adriana’s passion for music and smother her love of the virtuoso violinist and cleric, Antonio Vivaldi. In contrast, Church obligations and Vivaldi’s musical ambitions test his commitment to Adriana. Their shared understanding of music with its ability to nourish the soul and touch hearts and minds is powerful. For Adriana and Vivaldi, music is a singular passion, which envelops and surrounds them, influencing all their interactions.

Palombo’s metaphorical and allegorical use of musical keys, compositions, and musical terminology is used to augment her prose. Dissonance, harmony and musical motifs are used to give emotional depth to the many kinds of sadness, anger, happiness, and love Adriana experiences in her life. For example, early on in the novel Vivaldi patiently explains to Adriana that “there are rules by which music must abide, even when you are not aware of them. Without rules it would be chaos……. You must consider carefully so that the melody is meaningful.“ Later in the novel Adriana reflects on the Vivaldi’s Four Seasons concerti saying “in truth our lives run in seasons.”

The tempo of THE VIOLINIST OF VENICE is a little uneven and on reflection the book is sensuously evocative but not deeply meaningful. Like life, and like a concert, the novel is sectional and some parts are better written and more enjoyable than others.

At heart THE VIOLINIST OF VENICE, even with its musical embellishments, is just a romance novel with star-crossed lovers separated by social strata, wealth and convention. Modern romance novels are fantasies about female empowerment and happiness and THE VIOLINIST OF VENICE does not stray from this tenant as Adriana slowly pursues her passions, and becomes the master of her own fate. Palombo has created a novel which is a pleasant enough way to spend several reading hours even if the ending is satisfying rather than happy.


3 Pops


Deborah is a lifelong lover of books, food, TV and film with a penchant for schlock horror, superheroes, science fiction, black comedy and Asian martial arts stars. She would prefer to skydive than couch surf and is a fan of zombie walks. She can be found plugged into podcasts on long walks with her dog.

** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor/publisher – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.