Sunday, 16 February 2014

Review: Vienna Nocturne by Vivien Shotwell

Vienna Nocturne tells the story of the turbulent life and brilliantly successful career of young British opera singer Anna Storace, a child prodigy who is taken by her parents to Italy at age thirteen to advance her career. In love with life and wildly ambitious, Anna wants everything--to be famous, to be loved--and this leads her to make some fatal choices. We watch her turn from a carefree young girl to a passionate young woman, and it is during this transformation that her affair with Mozart blossoms. The story of their love, no less powerful for being forbidden, is reminiscent of the passionate thwarted romances described in Loving Frank and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Written in melodious prose by a young author studying opera at Yale, Vienna Nocturne is dramatic story of a woman's battle to find love and fame in an 18th-century world that controls and limits her at every turn.

Hardcover, 256 pages
Expected publication: February 25th 2014 by Bond Street Books
Genre: Historical Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

* I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.*

This book is a very easy read. The chapters are all very short and I was continuously telling myself "just one more" and before I knew it I was done. It is a fictional story about Anna Storace and Mozart and although some of the facts, names and timelines are real, the story of Anna and her relationship with Mozart are the work of the authors imagination based on the music he wrote for her. I have to say that Shotwell has a beautiful imagination and the story she created was incredible.

The story itself is filled with hardship, love, lust, heartbreak, friendship and tragedy. I found myself emotionally invested in Anna's character and her struggles as a rising opera singer in the 18th century. So many things happened in her life that I kept forgetting that she was still so young. There were parts in the story (I won't say which ones) that had me teary eyed which is always a good indication that I am enjoying a story. Even though I knew what the outcome would be for Anna and Mozart it didn't stop me from routing for them or shedding a few tears when it came. There was something so tragically beautiful about the way it ended that it will stick with me for a long time.

I knew little about 18th century opera before picking up this book but now I am fascinated with that bit of history. It was a truly pleasurable book for which I am thankful I had the opportunity to read.

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.





  1. I have this one coming and really looking forward to it. Loved your review!

    1. I liked it more than I thought I would. Let me know what you think!