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A Venetian Affair
ISBN 037541181X / 9780375411816 / 0-375-41181-X
Publisher Knopf Publishing Group
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It's hard to imagine a more romantic real-life story than the long, forbidden love affair of the 18th-century Venetian nobleman Andrea Memmo and a half-English beauty named Giustiniana Wynne. Andrea Di Robilant's A Venetian Affair is drawn in part from a cache of letters discovered by the author's father in his ancestral palazzo on the Grand Canal. In 1753, his ancestor Andrea Memmo had been introduced to a lovely girl of uncertain station (illegitimate, although her parents later married). The Wynnes's position was precarious enough in Venice's rigid society, and Giustiniana's mother took every step to prevent the young aristocrat from corrupting her daughter. But the two lovers began to meet in secret: exchanging letters through confederates and communicating in public through an elaborate code of nods and gestures. They even came within a few days of being married before further dark revelations about Giustiniana's family put a permanent end to their hopes. Although Memmo went on to have an illustrious career in the dying Venetian Republic, it is Giustiniana's astonishing later life that really captures the reader. A Venetian Affair provides both a rich picture of the times--including cameo appearances by that scamp, Casanova--and a convincing account of an enduring passion. --Regina Marler [via]