Vienna Nocturne: A Novel

Vienna Nocturne: A Novel - Vivien Shotwell A thank you goes out to Random House Canada for sending me an advanced reader’s copy of this book. Just like the opera that was the dominant theme throughout the entire novel I felt like the book itself was one of the romantic Italian operas that I fell in and out of love with over the course of the story. I must say it was not quite what i expected when I read the summary yet I’m glad I was given the chance to read this one.

I feel this book is a 2.5 because of how on the fence I felt about it. Firstly it is, again, an example of a problem that seems to reoccur more often in the world of literature these days: I felt the book and the synopsis didn’t really go hand in hand. The synopsis sounded like it was targeted more on simply selling the book, which of course is the point, but once I picked up the book and actually read it the romance with Mozart somewhat disappointed me. It started much later in the book than I expected it to and didn’t have really any logical explanation for it until near the end of the novel, and even then I didn’t quite feel the romance to be believable from Mozart’s explanation of how and what in Anna had made him fall in love.

The main character, Anna Storace, is quite lovely on the other hand. She appealed to me despite the somewhat bumpy adventure, which is rather unusual I find because it tends to be the case where, if the story line isn’t too great, the main character doesn’t appeal either. Here there is quite the surprising change and I enjoyed this. I think Shotwell captured her essence and characteristics wonderfully, showing both her strength and weakness at the same time over the course of the book. The episode with John Fisher was an interesting one, terrifying at times yet sill interesting. Benucci was an unpleasant character however, one that I didn’t understand nor have great interest in reading about. I couldn’t really understand Anna’s feelings for him and it was hard to imagine him in my mind in terms of age and appearance. In fact that was a problem I was faced with many of the characters. They felt like wooden marionettes in my mind while I read the book, with no distinct outer appearance and, in some cases, not too developed insides. Anna was developed since she was the main characters, but it felt like the rest were living in her shadow with not much about them.

There wasn’t too big an overload in the historical aspect, something I’m grateful for because this book read easily because despite the setting and time being in the 18th century it had a sort of timeless feel to it. That being said I still felt it difficult to read at times, which is why I took so long to finish this one. That’s usually how I can tell whether a book is good or not, by looking at the time it took me to finish it. At first I was flipping pages and really engrossed in the book, but about 30% into it is where I started having difficulty continuing and my attention was being distracted by other things. Also it’s been a busy month homework-wise and usually I still find time to read, even if it’s a little, so that i don’t fall behind. With this book I didn’t feel myself running back to it, preferring to put on a movie or paint or do something else.

So I have mixed feelings about this one, and not too sure how I would even put it. It wasn’t terribly, yet it wasn’t wonderful. There were aspects of it that were pretty good, and others that were not so much. I don’t know if I’d recommend this book really, and if I would it would be with an added warning of not expecting too much from it. It had potential and I think it fell a bit flat of it. Or maybe it’s only me who has this (unpopular) opinion. It felt a bit like one of the operas I went to, expecting a beautiful performance and in the end, though truly charmed by the talent and skill of the singers, didn’t fall in love with the story or the characters themselves, feeling i was watching it in disengagement. Still I enjoyed the chance to read it, any book I can get my hands on only expands my horizon as a reader.