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“I was entertained, moved, fascinated and compelled to read on by the weave of this story; I loved Antonia, felt her painful ‘otherness’ as a child, was cross with her for her foolhardy behaviours as an adolescent, was anxious for her safety and impatient to see her happily bound to a functional family. I saw, felt, lived in Venice (which I have visited) and Sienna (which I have not) in the heat of the day and the cool, dark respite of the church buildings. In Florence, the city I know best, I walked with the characters and joined in Antonia’s exploration; in Vienna
I re-lived my own exploration of the city and the harsh yet beautiful contrast with the ornate splendour of Venice. Throughout the story I heard the music, and my breathing changed into ‘singing mode’ along with Antonia’s. It was exhausting!
The plot is clever and well-paced, and I found the denouement deeply satisfying. The meditation on identity is deft; with changes of name, wearing of masks, transcripts of a soul-journal, obscured parenthood… so much to reflect on. Yet above all, the author writes about longing, pining, yearning, loss and separation with such exquisite and painful clarity.
This story is a feast for the senses: sound, taste, smell, vision and touch are all evoked with great skill. I feel as though I have seen a film, or even been present during the story. I loved the book, and I feel greatly privileged to have a glimpse of the author’s spiritual self through reading it.”