Amazon.comIt'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 Memmowent 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 Book Description“Some years ago, my father came home with a carton of old letters that time and humidity had compacted into wads of barely legible paper,” Andrea di Robilant tells us as he begins this spellbinding true story of love in eighteenth-century Venice. In the attic of their old family palazzo on the Grand Canal, his father had found the love letters of their ancestor Andrea Memmo, one of the last great Venetian statesmen, to a beautiful half-English girl named Giustiniana Wynne. Some of the letters were written in code, which di Robilant and his father cracked to reveal an illicit passion: Giustiniana was not of the elite ruling class and would never have been considered a suitable match for Andrea. But their acts of devotion were startlingly brazen. As their courtship unfolds, they plot elaborate marriage schemes that offend everyone, arrange secret trysts in borrowed rooms, cause trouble for theservants who must ferry their forbidden correspondence, and even weather an unwanted pregnancy, from which Giustiniana, with her wits and ingenuity and some crucial assistance from the infamous Casanova, emerges unscathed.
Andrea di Robilant, heirto the lovers’ legacy, captures them in the twilight of the golden era of Venice, with forays to the colorful social circles of London and Paris along the way. His sparkling, well-paced narrative evokes the world of mask-wearing men and ladies attending Goldoni plays and gambling at the Ridotto—bringing to life, 250 years later, a tale of unbounded passion and rich historical intrigue.