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Vienna Nocturne    by Vivien Shotwell order for
Vienna Nocturne
by Vivien Shotwell
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2014 (2014)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Barbara Lingens

Anna Storace was a young but already famous soprano when she met Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. What really happened as they interacted with one another is not known historically, though the author has good reason to believe there was at least an unspoken affection.

Vivien Shotwell is a classically trained singer, and as such, can provide a rich perspective on the musical happenings that took place in England, Italy, Germany and Austria in the late 1700s. This was the time when the comic opera (opera buffa) was introduced and became fashionable. This form of opera required different skills from the singers, and Anna's voice and acting demeanor were made for her starring role in the premiere of The Marriage of Figaro.

This novel, though, focuses on Anna's private life, which was both very interesting since she was such a child prodigy, and extremely difficult as she tried to make her way in a world that limited women in so many ways. Despite her famous ability to speak for herself, she suffered profound personal setbacks, especially in her search for love.

The story definitely keeps up our interest, but would have been even more riveting if the author had taken us deeper into her characters' minds. I'm thinking she was too respectful of real historical characters. Perhaps in her next novel she can peel away some of those surface layers to creep more into those corners where characters keep thoughts and feelings only she can bring out.

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