Vivaldi’s Virgins – Barbara Quick

“The sky on a clear night is a living, pulsating thing. The stars are like musical notes turned to light, and, like notes, they shimmer and swell and fade and fall. The painters have never captured it — but they never will until some painter teaches his colors to dance.”

Since last year I become interested in stories set in Venice and this book was intriguing for me. Loosely based on real life events of the young musicians who were taught by Vivaldi, the novel presents Anna Maria’s life, an orphan who plays violin and who is searching for her mother.
The story is told poetically through the voice of 14 year old Anna who is writing letters to her mother while the rest of the book is told from the view point of Anna Maria as a 40 year old woman, filling in the gaps that the younger Anna’s letters leave blank.
There is a bit of mystery involved in the story but having read many novels which use this as a plot device I find it less interesting than the descriptions of the setting which is brought vividly to life here.

The entire book is so focused on music and Anna’s love for music it really comes through in the writing style. It was so lyrical. I just felt the ending was too simple. I do have a lot of respect for people who write historical fiction and can tie all the loose ends together at the end in a way that is realistic and compelling. Unfortunately, this author fell short a little.

Still, I enjoyed the book overall.

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3 Responses to Vivaldi’s Virgins – Barbara Quick

  1. Hello, Diana!

    I was so glad to find this post, as I have not yet seen or received the Romanian edition of my novel. (Out of the 15 translations, I only have 8 on my bookshelf.) I’m not sure why some publishers send them and others don’t.

    I’m glad you liked VIVALDI’S VIRGINS. The ending was determined by what actually became of the historical Anna Maria dal Violin. I started writing the book with a fictional heroine. But in the course of my research in Venice, I found archives referring to Anna Maria–and I ditched my made-up protagonist in favor of this quite inspiring person who really lived. Personally, I liked the ending very much, given that Anna Maria ended her very long life still cloistered at the Pieta.

    Anyway, you might enjoy my 2010 novel, A GOLDEN WEB, which involves a young medical student, Alessandra Giliani, in 14th century Bologna. Please visit my web site:

    All best wishes,

    • Diana says:

      Hello, Barbara!
      I have never thought a published author like you will find out about my review and write me back. You made me such a great surprise.
      I loved Anna, you captured everything so nicely and made her and her love for music stand out through every word; I will definitely search for “A golden web” and write my opinion once I get it.
      If you want, I can send you a Romanian copy of Vivaldi’s Virgins to add to your bookshelf.
      Warm regards,

  2. That is such a generous offer, Diana–thank you so much! If you write to me at my personal email,, I will send you my postal information. I love the way the Internet allows me to connect with readers all over the world. Hooray for all of you!

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