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Lucia: A Venetian Life in the Age of Napoleon

Andrea di Robilant

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ISBN 10: 1400107059 / ISBN 13: 9781400107056
Published by Tantor Audio, 2008
Condition: Good
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Lucia: A Venetian Life in the Age of ...

Publisher: Tantor Audio

Publication Date: 2008

Binding: Audio CD

Book Condition: Good

Edition: Unabridged.

About this title

Synopsis:

In 1787, Lucia, the beautiful sixteen-year-old daughter of a prominent Venetian statesman, is married off to Alvise Mocenigo, scion of one of the most powerful Venetian families. But their life as a golden couple will be suddenly transformed when Venice falls to Bonaparte. As the larger events unfolding around Lucia mingle with her most personal concerns, we witness-through her letters to her sister and other primary sources-her painful series of miscarriages and the pressure on her to produce an heir; her impassioned affair with an Austrian officer and its stunning results; the glamour and strain of her career as a hostess in Hapsburg Vienna and lady-in-waiting at the court of Napoleon's stepson, Prince Eugène de Beauharnais, as well as her intimate relationship with the Empress Josephine; and her amazing firsthand account of the defeat of Napoleon in Paris in 1814. In her later years, Lucia, regal and still beautiful and a bit battle-hardened herself, was Byron's landlord during the poet's stay in Venice. In a fitting finale to this sweeping drama, Lucia stands as a relic of a lost golden age: she created, in part, the aura that gave rise to the Romantic view of Italy and its culture that we still nourish today.

With the brave and articulate Lucia at the center of his re-creation of this remarkable historical period, Andrea di Robilant has once again reached across the centuries, and deep into his own past, to bring history to rich and vivid life on the page.

Review:

Q&A with Andrea di Robilant

Q. A discovery of letters between a young beauty, Giustiniana Wynne, and your ancestor, the Venetian nobleman Andrea Memmo, inspired your first work, A Venetian Affair. What lead to the discovery of Lucia’s letters and what inspired you to tell her story in your new book, Lucia: A Venetian Life in the Age of Napoleon?

It was only after finishing A Venetian Affair that I realized there was another box of letters among my father's papers which I had not yet opened. They turned out to be by Andrea Memmo's daughter, Lucia, to her future husband, Alvise Mocenigo. These letters, written when Lucia was only sixteen, were so vivid and immediate and provided such a fascinating insight into the complex negotiations leading to an arranged marriage in Venice in the late 18th century, that they seemed to be the perfect starting point for a narrative on that period. In the course of researching Lucia's life I was lucky to find several more collections of her correspondence in the archives in Venice and other cities of northern Italy, which, taken together, covered her entire life time. The sheer quality of her correspondence throughout her life--her observations, her descriptions, her wonderful habit of transcribing dialogues, the precise information about her personal life and the world around her--compelled me to write her story.

Q. How did the experience of writing Lucia differ from that of A Venetian Affair?

In writing A Venetian Affair I was entirely absorbed by the intensity of the love story between Andrea and Giustiniana. Lucia, instead, is more like a rich family saga. Whereas I had something of a crush on Giustiniana, the relationship I developed with Lucia was at once deeper and more complex. I grew to love and admire her. She was a strong, courageous, passionate woman. But she also irritated me at times, and disappointed me and even exasperated me.

Q. Who was Colonel Plunkett and what role did he play in Lucia's life?

After the fall of the Venetian Republic, Colonel Plunkett, a dashing officer with the occupying Austrian troops, became Lucia's secret lover. He fathered her only surviving child, Alvisetto, before being killed in action while fighting the French in Switzerland. All traces of this love affair were carefully erased by Lucia. Alvisetto was passed off as Alvise's son, thereby ensuring the survival of the Mocenigo line.

See the entire Q&A with Andrea di Robilant

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