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Vienna Nocturne: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Vivien Shotwell
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $26.00
Kindle Price: $10.99
You Save: $15.01 (58%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

In the tradition of Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife and Laura Moriarty’s The Chaperone comes a sweeping historical love story and a portrait of an age. Vienna Nocturne is a deeply moving debut novel that brings to life two extraordinary figures—a thirty-year-old Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and a young English soprano, Anna Storace, who was his muse—in prose as spirited, timeless, and touching as Mozart’s greatest compositions.

In late-eighteenth-century London, a young girl takes her first singing lessons with a mysterious castrato in exile. Her life is forever changed. Having learned everything he can teach her, Anna leaves behind all the security and familiarity of home and journeys to Naples and Venice to struggle and triumph in Italy’s greatest opera houses. Only sixteen, she finds herself in an intoxicating world of theaters, nobility, and vice, overwhelmed by her newfound freedom and fame. Her first bitter experience of love and heartbreak inevitably follows.

Within a few years, Anna is invited to sing in Vienna, the City of Music, by the emperor himself. There, in a teasing game of theft and play, Anna first meets Mozart, a young virtuoso pianist and striving, prodigiously talented composer. They are matched in intellect and talent, and an immediate and undeniable charge occurs between the two, despite both being married to others.

As her star rises in Vienna and her personal life deteriorates, Anna experiences an ultimate crisis. During this trying time, her only light is Mozart: his energy, his determination for her, and his art. She, in turn, becomes his hope and inspiration, and his joy, as he writes for her some of his most exquisite and enduring arias—music that will live on as his masterworks.

Rich in historical detail and beautifully wrought by Vivien Shotwell, an author who is herself an opera singer, Vienna Nocturne is a dramatic tour de force of a woman’s struggle to find love and fame in an eighteenth-century world that controls and limits her at every turn.

Advance praise for Vienna Nocturne
 
“You don’t have to be an opera buff to fall deep into Vienna Nocturne. Vivien Shotwell catapults you straight into the eighteenth century with abundant, vivid detail. I found Anna Storace’s journey from prodigy to prima donna an irresistible tale.”—Nancy Horan, author of Loving Frank and Under the Wide and Starry Sky
 
“Passionate and yet precise, dense with feeling yet as clean as a bird in flight: This novel emulates Mozart’s music even as it beautifully imagines his love for a memorable singer. What an excellent debut!”—Andrea Barrett, National Book Award–winning author of Archangel and Ship Fever
 
Vienna Nocturne is as finely intelligent as it is lushly romantic, and beautifully renders how much music can convey, even when it’s hardly the only expressive tool lovers have at hand. Very few novels have expressed as persuasively how it feels to be taken up by the kind of passions that, despite everything, can make a soul huge with life and joy.”—Jim Shepard, author of National Book Award finalist Like You’d Understand, Anyway
 
“Vivien Shotwell has written a novel that, like her heroine, the singer Anna Storace, is brilliant, warm, irresistible, and infinitely moving. Her descriptions of music, of her characters, of Venice and Vienna are so vivid and so richly compelling that I was amazed to look up from these pages and discover that I was still in Massachusetts.”—Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street and The Flight of Gemma Hardy


From the Hardcover edition.


Editorial Reviews

Review

Advance praise for Vienna Nocturne
 
“You don’t have to be an opera buff to fall deep into Vienna Nocturne. Vivien Shotwell catapults you straight into the eighteenth century with abundant, vivid detail. I found Anna Storace’s journey from prodigy to prima donna an irresistible tale.”—Nancy Horan, author of Loving Frank and Under the Wide and Starry Sky
 
“Passionate and yet precise, dense with feeling yet as clean as a bird in flight: This novel emulates Mozart’s music even as it beautifully imagines his love for a memorable singer. What an excellent debut!”—Andrea Barrett, National Book Award–winning author of Archangel and Ship Fever
 
Vienna Nocturne is as finely intelligent as it is lushly romantic, and beautifully renders how much music can convey, even when it’s hardly the only expressive tool lovers have at hand. Very few novels have expressed as persuasively how it feels to be taken up by the kind of passions that, despite everything, can make a soul huge with life and joy.”—Jim Shepard, author of National Book Award finalist Like You’d Understand, Anyway
 
“Vivien Shotwell has written a novel that, like her heroine, the singer Anna Storace, is brilliant, warm, irresistible, and infinitely moving. Her descriptions of music, of her characters, of Venice and Vienna are so vivid and so richly compelling that I was amazed to look up from these pages and discover that I was still in Massachusetts. Vienna Nocturne is a transporting and deeply satisfying debut.”—Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street and The Flight of Gemma Hardy
 
“Vivien Shotwell’s love, knowledge, and passion for music shines through this seductive tale. A lovely read.”—Eva Stachniak, author of The Winter Palace
 
“Vivien Shotwell combines the keen observations of a fine writer with a musician’s sense of structure and technique. She brings alive the mystery of music from the inside, and the effect is delightful. A remarkable accomplishment.”—Thad Carhart, author of The Piano Shop on the Left Bank
 
“Vivien Shotwell’s elegant, keenly observed debut is as deeply imagined as it is deeply felt. At turns lyrical and dramatic, witty and wise, Vienna Nocturne is both a fascinating portrait of a long-lost world and an introduction to a gorgeous new literary voice.”—Jennifer DuBois, author of Cartwheel
 
Vienna Nocturne is a gorgeous symphony of a novel, the story, the prose, the sweet, sad whole of it both lush and perfectly controlled. Like much great music, it lures us in with the catchy and hummable—an irresistibly glamorous love story—but hides depths beneath and between the melodies. I will never listen to Mozart the same way again.”—Yael Goldstein Love, author of The Passion of Tasha Darsky

About the Author

VIVIEN SHOTWELL was born in Colorado and raised in Nova Scotia. A daughter of independent booksellers, and a classically-trained singer, she has received degrees in music and writing from Williams College, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and the Yale School of Music.


Product Details

  • File Size: 1610 KB
  • Print Length: 306 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B00FIN0TLE
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (February 25, 2014)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00EX48USS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,086 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finely crafted and delightful, simple and lyrical November 27, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Vivien Shotwell's debut novel is finely crafted and delightful in its simplicity and lyrical quality. The author, as a classically trained singer herself, is clearly deeply engaged with her subject and writes with delicacy and passion. Although I am not musically accomplished myself, and have seen only a few operas "live", I can remember even from childhood being fascinated by that art form and the passion and dedication that it involves. One of my favorite books as a child was a beautifully illustrated volume titled "The Stories of the Great Metropolitan Operas", and Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro" that features so largely in Shotwell's story was one of those summarized.

As Shotwell herself says, it takes significant courage and a great deal of research to write a fictionalized account involving a character as legendary as Mozart. It seems to me, however, that she has accomplished a splendid job of getting behind the legend. Also, for those like me who had not previously been acquainted with Anna (Nancy) Storace (Fisher), it is a charming introduction. As Vivien says in her "Author's Note", because less is known about Anna, she had the privilege of crafting her as "someone I loved." In so doing, she has given us a warm, realistic and truly meaningful personality, whose successes and challenges become vivid and intimate. Where the love scenes are concerned, definitely "less is more"; they serve as a wonderful respite from the overly explicit eroticism that so many contemporary authors seem to consider de riguer.

Both at the level of artistic integrity, and as a charming glimpse into the world of the Hapsburg Empire in the late 18th Century, this book is definitely a "find".
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
As an avid opera fan who has attended hundreds of live opera performances I was looking forward to his novel primarily set in the opera world of late 18th century Vienna. It tells the story of real life English soprano Anna Storace, of whom little is known aside from some basic facts including that she was the original Susanna in Mozart's masterpice Le Nozze di Figaro. The author vividly brings to life what the opera world of that period was like. You don't have to be an opera fan to enjoy the novel, no previous knowledge of opera is required, only a willingness to immerse yourself in this rarefied world. Because little is known of Storace the author is free to embelllish including a love affair between Anna and Mozart. What kept the novel from truly working for me were its frequent lapses into soap operaness (forgive the pun) and the author's probably too frequent viewing of the film 'Amadeus'. Still this was an enjoyable read as you won't find many novels covering this territory.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A radiantly beautiful love story March 3, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was totally captivated by this passionate story of a girl with an unusual talent for singing, suggested by the life of the real young singer Anna Storace who was not eighteen when she stole the heart of the Viennese opera public with her voice. But her very open-heartedness of spirit which makes her so loved as singer also leaves her open for heartbreak. When her first lover leaves her pregnant, she must marry an older man to avoid ruin. But her husband is brutal and gradually she loses the joy that made people flock to her singing; an even greater loss leads to the breakdown of her health and the disappearance of her voice.

In Vienna, however, she had also begun to know the brilliant, unpredictable, playful composer Mozart, a happily married man with a child who sees a soul mate in the sometimes radiant and then crushed young Anna. He is struggling as much as she is. “There was a mixture of lightness and strength about him; how he spoke, how he held himself, how he used his hands.” When she is very ill and comes from her room, Anna finds him playing at the keyboard, “The room billowed with music and sunlight. She could almost lean against it.” It is a poignant romance. They are both too honorable to hurt his marriage and yet they are so much in love with each other, it is as if they discovered life for the first time.

There is nothing ordinary about this writing: it dances, it falls into rapt poetry, wisdom and tenderness. And yet we are not just reading about eighteenth-century people; the love and resentment and joy between mothers, daughters, brothers, friends, lovers, colleagues is as immediate and real as the lives we live today. The sensuality is palpable and everywhere: a man and woman at one piano bench, her skirt falling over his knee.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Swept me away in a tide of music February 19, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
One of the best novels I have ever read about music, ever! The descriptions in the book are so well written, you can almost hear the notes flying off the page. I could almost hear the main character's voice during her performances. In a way, reading this book was like watching the movie Amadeus for the first time; I was swept away in the story, the romance, the music, it was like listening to a live orchestra!

This story is about a singer, a very talented, female singer that lived at the same time as Mozart. Never has a character seemed so real to me. This beautiful novel really was mesmerizing! I couldn't put it down and stayed up quite late to finish the last few pages. Everything about this book was wonderful. If the story sounds interesting to you, I can promise that you will not be disappointed.

Encore! ENCORE!!!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars For music lovers
I liked the book very much!
Published 2 days ago by Lydia S. Bond
3.0 out of 5 stars Really more like 3.5
I found this novel entertaining, and it provided me with insights into the life and personality of Mozart that were new to me, since I have not studied him previously, keeping in... Read more
Published 3 days ago by Dorothyanne
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, But Didn't Grab Me
I was looking forward to reading this novel. I'm very interested in 18th century history, have a layperson's knowledge of that era's music, and found the plot summary -- married... Read more
Published 8 days ago by Reader from Washington, DC
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
BORING FROM THE BEGINNING. COULD NOT FINISH.
Published 1 month ago by Kathleen M. Conley
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow but detailed
Written as a historical fiction, Anna, a young girl that is destined to be an opera singer, is hooked onto Mozart and thrust into stardom. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jennifer Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars "Don't fear, greatly beloved; for you, always my heart will remain."
This story could only have been written by a creative, talented writer with an insightful, first hand knowledge of music/opera such as Vivien Shotwell. Read more
Published 1 month ago by E.M. Jalph
2.0 out of 5 stars A Pitchy Mess of a Novel
I started reading Vienna Nocturne in January, when I received it as an ARC in the hopes that when I finished, I would write a review. Read more
Published 1 month ago by readtome
4.0 out of 5 stars Delightful
I first picked up "Vienna Nocturne" when the title caught my eye on my library's new releases shelf. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Irishgal
4.0 out of 5 stars Well done
Readers will be drawn in by many aspects of this novel, caring about Anna's rise in the opera world, getting list in vivid historical detail and well crafted prose. Recommended.
Published 2 months ago by N. Ferguson
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved!
Vienna Nocturne is a gorgeous book, and I recommend it to music lovers, historical fiction lovers, and well, lovers. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jody
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More About the Author

Vivien Shotwell is a classically trained singer with degrees from Williams College, the Yale School of Music, and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow. As an undergraduate voice student at Williams, Shotwell first sang the beautiful aria "Non temer, amato bene" ("Don't fear, greatly beloved"), which Mozart wrote for and performed with the young soprano Anna Storace, and knew she had to tell their story. A daughter of independent booksellers, Shotwell was born in Colorado, raised in Nova Scotia, and now divides her time between Halifax, Nova Scotia, and New Haven, Connecticut. This is her first novel.

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