Author: Barbara Lynn Davis
Type of book: 1774, 1756, Casanova, marriage, affair, relationships, taboo, scandal, nunnery, second chances, friendship, frenemy, pregnancy, growth
Year it was published: 2017
Set in eighteenth-century Venice and based on an actual account by Giacomo Casanova—here is a lush tale of desire and risk, offering a little known portrait of the writer as a young man.
Caterina Capreta was an innocent girl of fourteen when she caught the attention of the world’s most infamous chronicler of seduction: Giacomo Casanova. Intoxicated by a fierce love, she wed Casanova in secret. But his shocking betrayal inspired her to commit an act that would mark her forever . . .
Now twenty years later on the island of Murano, the woman in possession of Caterina’s most devastating secret has appeared with a request she cannot refuse: to take in a noble-born girl whose scandalous love affair resembles her own. But the girl’s presence stirs up unwelcome memories of Caterina’s turbulent past. Tested like never before, she reveals the story of the man she will never forget . . .
Bringing to life a fascinating chapter in the history of Venice, Casanova’s Secret Wife is a tour de force that charts one woman’s journey through love and loss to redemption.
Main characters include Caterina Capretta, a determined 14 year old girl who falls in love with Casanova and will do whatever she can for him. Casanova often describes Caterina as an angel, seemingly unaware that there are 'fallen angels' as well. Casanova here is in his 20s, someone is seeking the impossible and who is also extremely charming, adventurous, and wants what he cannot have. One cannot help but see Casanova's personality and legendary reputation form from encounters with Caterina and Marina. Marina is a nun and a "frenemy" of Caterina who seems to be the bored aristocratic daughter and loves to break rules and mores. There is also Caterina's older cousin who seems to follow the rules, and Leda, the border who is given by Marina to Caterina for purposes of her own.
In life, there are second chances and ways to pick up pieces
The story is written in first and third person point of view from Caterina's point of view. First person is when Caterina tells her tale to a recent lodger by name of Leda who is pregnant and this story takes place in 1753. Third person takes place in 1774 and is more of a "present day" story. While history is researched, I feel that in this case the story is more memories of a place rather than something historical, if it makes sense, but its still a memorable and an enjoyable read.
Barbara Lynn-Davis graduated from brtown University with a degree in art history. She then worked at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice and later spent a year there while completing her PhD. in Renaissance art at Princeton University. She currently teaches art history and writing at Wellesley College, and lives outside Boston with her family.
This is a case of 'don't judge a book by its cover" because from the cover, I thought the story would be superficial, or else it will be a love story just like one can find it about anywhere. But I was proven delightfully wrong. While the story does deal with the famous Giacomo Casanova and Caterina Capretta, the story also deals with picking up pieces after a torrid love affair and trying to find happiness in unexpected places and in unexpected people, an important lesson for a generation who grew up reading Twilight and Fifty Shades and think that the first person they land will be their soulmate. While I do think that relationship between Caterina and Marina Orsini could be fleshed out more, (I'm still not sure how Marina is taking advantage of Caterina) I liked the relationship between Caterina and Casanova (I also will warn that this is a 14 year old girl in relationship with a man who is in his late 20s and that its 1753...)
This is for HFVBT
4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)