Thursday, November 6, 2008

Laurel Conrad's "The Four Seasons"

Laurel Corona's "The Four Seasons" tells the story of two orphaned girls who are brought up in a cloistered girls only home/school in 18th century Venice. The specialty of the school is music--and when Vivaldi, the great 18th Century composer--shows up at the school and recognizes the girls' talents, their worlds are turned upside down. The novel follows the girls for almost 40 years as their lives change and intersect with Vivaldi's. 

Corona's story is interesting, but underdeveloped. She picks a rich historical period, and she lovingly describes both Venice and the music which fills her novel, but she has a harder time with characters. Most of the characters--including the two heroines--are flat, one dimensional, and frankly, a little dull. I kept expecting one of them to do something unexpected--it is VENICE after all--but they are both just so good, and unwilling to stand up against the world. I know a lot of this characterization is what was "expected" of women during that period, but this is a NOVEL and it would be good to have some excitement. Without real excitement, the novel seems to plod along at times, simply telling the passage of time and not a story. 

If half stars were an option, I probably would have given this book 3.5 stars, since I did enjoy most of the story. But it can be slow at times and its not the best written historical fiction I've ever read. I would recommend this book to Vivaldi fans, fans of the period, or Venice fans (yes there are courtesans).

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