5 Feb 2014



SOURCE: Bought by Husband dearest.

1782. The 13-year old daughter of a Venetian merchant family is lured naked from her bath by a stray cat and finds herself in the arms of Casanova - the legendary seducer of women.

Twenty-five years later Cecilia is in Albania, now a portrait painter of some renown, her fame in this area eclipsed only by her reputation as the last woman in Venice to have been loved by Casanova. Enter a young man from England, a troubled poet, looking for adventure at any price - a man who begins his affair with Cecilia with the announcement 'I rather look on love as a hostile transaction.' For Cecilia, who had blossomed under the tender, unselfish love of another man, Byron proves a rude awakening.

While Casanova hid nothing from her, Byron hides everything, but she paints rich portraits of both men. This unique and extraordinary novel combines sensuous descriptions of painting with rich portraits of real people, all set against the decaying grandeur of Venice.
...... Amazon product description.

FIRST SENTENCE {Prologue}: Before you hear about it at Florian, let me tell you what happened next.

MEMORABLE MOMENT {Page 220}: The hour of the cat draws near. The sun dies in the arms of the evening. We cats take to our roofs. We walk over the terracotta tiles with a delicacy you cannot imagine, lifting our paws high like Spanish horses.

MY THOUGHTS: Silly o'clock, Friday night/Saturday morning. I've only just finished part one and already I'm loosing sleep wondering how to review this complex, over-long (628 pages), rambling four part debut novel.

Mid-afternoon Monday and I'm finally finished what turned out to be an awfully long-winded book that as well as the main story also saw many asides which included Casanova's cat voicing his opinions in chapters titled 'The Cat Speaks'.

Not as I had expected, this isn't so much the story of the fictional artist Cecilia Cornaro as it is the stories of Casanova and to an even greater extent Byron.

Seamlessly entwining fact with fiction, the author has obviously thoroughly researched the lives of both Casanova and Byron. Beautifully written in so much as its poetic without being too flowery, its evocative of what I should imagine Venice was like at this time. Occasionally risque verging on the erotic. Whilst personally sentences like "'But my steed is presently resting in his stable.' He pointed at his depleted organ" did little other than make me laugh out loud (perhaps intentionally so) I admit that I found some of the other, less tongue-in-cheek, scenes (the almost sixty year old Casanova seducing the then 13 year old Cecilia to say nothing of Byron's sexual abuse at the hands of his nanny) a bit unpalatable.

Though essentially a novel with great potential I'm afraid the lack of narrative tension (despite it being a rather lengthy tome surprisingly little actually happens) made for a rather disappointing read in need of some severe editing. 

Copyright: Tracy Terry @ Pen and Paper. All original content on http://pettywitter.blogspot.co.uk/ is created by the website owner, including but not limited to text, design, code, images, photographs and videos are considered to be the Intellectual Property of the website owner, whether copyrighted or not, and are protected by DMCA Protection Services using the Digital Millennium Copyright Act Title 17 Chapter 512 (c)(3). Reproduction or re-publication of this content is prohibited without permission. In addition I would also urge that if you are reading this on any other page you contact the original blog owner/reviewer.


Shooting Stars Mag said...

definitely sounds like a novel that could have used some editing!! thanks for sharing.

Melissa (Books and Things) said...

Yea, I was thinking editor! LOL Although that line really was funny. :D

Literary Feline said...

I had to chuckle as I read the first couple of paragraphs of your review, Tracy. This book does sound like a bit much. It's too bad the writing was tighter and the plot stronger.

Suko said...

Tracy, thank you for your honest and well-written review. I am certain I'd find the same things unpalatable--ugh!

Alexia561 said...

I'm not a big fan of long-winded stories, so think I'll skip this one. But I did enjoy your review, especially your comment about losing sleep over how to review the book at silly o'clock in the morning. Been there, done that! :)

Kelly said...

I seem to be torn... part of me thinks this would be quite good, but part isn't sure I want to plow through it. I laughed at the "steed" quote, too. Surely it wasn't meant to be taken seriously.

Brian Joseph said...

Too bad that it was mostly disappointing. I must admit that the chapters narrated by the cal sound fin, innovative and amusing to me.

carol said...

I liked the description. It's a shame it was too long and on the dull side.

The cat chapters would probably annoy me.

Brandi Kosiner said...

Sorry the lack of tension negated the research the author seemed to do for characters.

Yvonne@fiction-books said...

Hi Tracy,

I had already decided that this wasn't the book for me, after reading just the synopsis and small excerpts you featured ... your review put the tin hat on the whole thing and I quickly came to the conclusion that just about the only thing this book has going for it, is the evocative cover art!

You have had quite a few false starts with your reading lately, so I hope that your next book proves to be more to your liking.


Claudine G. said...

I was very much amused by the first line in the synopsis about the girl being lured out of her bath by a stray cat. Wow, that is some strong powers from the kitty!

Gina R said...

OH....um, I was still hung up on the creepy child luring Casanova reference in the synopsis. ~shudders~ Thanks for the share~