A Venetian Affair by Andrea di Robilant

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This book tells the story of an affair in mid-18th century Venice between a nobleman (from whom the author is descended) and a woman who, whilst from the better-off classes, wasn’t considered highly enough born to be able to marry him. The term “Venetian oligarchy” is still used. His family were part of it. Hers weren’t. Incidentally, I don’t know what it was about her, but she seems to’ve attracted proposals right, left and centre – in Venice, Paris and London. And this was even though everyone knew about her affair with this man!

It’s not the best-written book I’ve ever read, but it’s fascinating because it shows how small and gossipy upper-crust society at the time was, and how the idle rich really did seem to have very little to do other than a) party and b) gossip about other people’s love lives! It’s also quite sad, as all these sorts of relationships are – two people who wanted to be together, but were prevented from being so because their society didn’t deem them suitable for each other … and, of course, because the Venetian Republic, La Serenissima, was nearing its end, even if it didn’t know it. Not the best read ever, but a good one even so.

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