A Venetian Affair
A True Tale of Forbidden Love in the 18th Century
By Andrea Di Robilant
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780375726170, 320pp.)
Publication Date: April 12, 2005
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In the waning days of Venice’s glory in the mid-1700s, Andrea Memmo was scion to one the city’s oldest patrician families. At the age of twenty-four he fell passionately in love with sixteen-year-old Giustiniana Wynne, the beautiful, illegitimate daughter of a Venetian mother and British father. Because of their dramatically different positions in society, they could not marry. And Giustiniana’s mother, afraid that an affair would ruin her daughter’s chances to form a more suitable union, forbade them to see each other. Her prohibition only fueled their desire and so began their torrid, secret seven-year-affair, enlisting the aid of a few intimates and servants (willing to risk their own positions) to shuttle love letters back and forth and to help facilitate their clandestine meetings. Eventually, Giustiniana found herself pregnant and she turned for help to the infamous Casanova–himself infatuated with her.
Two and half centuries later, the unbelievable story of this star-crossed couple is told in a breathtaking narrative, re-created in part from the passionate, clandestine letters Andrea and Giustiniana wrote to each other.
Andrea di Robilant was born in Italy and educated at Le Rosey and Columbia University, where he specialized in international affairs. He currently lives in Rome with his wife and two children and works as a correspondent for the Italian newspaper La Stampa. This is his first book.
"Splendidly engrossing. . . . An extraordinary story." --The New York Times Book Review
“Jane Austen herself could not have conjured a romance with more passion, deception and intrigue.”--People
“Thoroughly fascinating. . . . Has all the hallmarks of a Henry James novel. . . . Interweaving dramatic scenes and keenly observed expository passages [di Robilant] creates a narrative of novelistic resonance.” --The Washington Post Book World
“A story of Venice at at time when people lived for romantic intrigue and where social and political restrictions led men and women into liaisons that made for delicious, tormented melodrama.” --Salon
“Filled with quiet intensity and elegant, thought-provoking prose…An elegiac and powerful novel with a fresh presentation of evil and the healing potential of forgiveness.” --People