Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Book Review: Mozart's Blood by Louise Marley

Imagine sharing the memories and emotions of the great Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart through a blood bond that spans centuries. That is the premise upon which this book gets its title, but the story line of this novel is much more complicated and intriguing than that.

Aspiring opera singer Teresa Saporiti leaves her family and her small hometown in 18th century Italy behind to pursue her dream. Landing a position at the opera house La Scala in Milan with the help of a gentle benefactor, Teresa’s career quickly becomes more and more successful, and she eventually finds herself working with the great Mozart himself, becoming infatuated with him despite his married state. After one exceptionally successful performance in Prague, Teresa finds herself sharing a bed with Mozart and a wealthy and powerful Countess, Zdenka Milosch. By the end of the evening, she has shared much more, and having “shared the tooth” with the brilliant composer, her life becomes irrevocably changed.

Young Ughetto was the only son of a poor innkeeper, born after seven sisters. As he nears puberty, he realizes his mother and grandmother are becoming unusually wary around him. Then one day he is sent on a ficticious errand by his mother and grandmother and his life changes forever. Abducted and drugged, Ughetto finds himself in a terrifying situation which eventually lands him in a small school for a unique group of boys. His own association with the world of opera eventually leads him also into a relationship with the enigmatic Countess Milosch.

Ughetto and Teresa meet each other in San Francisco during the 1906 earthquake, and after learning more about each other’s existences form a lasting bond. Although their relationship is a platonic one, they soon become inseparable, taking on various personas as the years pass to continue their existence without raising suspicions. Then one day, as Teresa (now called Octavia) prepares to take the stage once again at La Scala, Ughetto (now called Ugo) disappears. The unfolding events following Ugo’s disappearance are intertwined expertly and lyrically with flashbacks of their pasts. As the present story unfolds, the past is filled in for the reader, detail by detail, weaving an impressive and captivating story.

I really enjoyed this novel, and although I previously had very little interest in opera, I still found the settings spellbinding and actually enjoyed learning about the milieu, both in the spotlight and backstage. The way author Louise Marley adroitly knits together the past and the present made transitioning back and forth easy for me to follow and kept the flow of the story smooth. All in all, this was an entertaining and enthralling tale. I give this book 4 pawprints!

***FTC Disclosure: This book was provided in exchange for an honest review, no other compensation was given, all opinions are my own***

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