The author’s main idea in writing this book seemed to be to create and tell the story a character who had affairs with both Casanova and Byron, the first affair set against the glorious background of 18th century Venice and the second against the exotic background of Ali Pasha’s Albania, the character being a middle-class Venetian girl who rebelled against convention and became an artist.
Casanova was depicted far more favourably than “mad, bad and dangerous to know” Byron, but I could have wished that the author had made Cecilia, her heroine, a bit older when she and Casanova met. The affair started when Cecilia was thirteen and hadn’t even hit puberty, and I found that to be in rather poor taste. Byron was depicted rather negatively … mind you, he did rather ask for that.
The other main character – other than a cat – was Venice herself. Venice is Venice and always a joy to read about, but I don’t know why people are so obsessed with writing about Venice as the republic drew to its close, and in this case during the early years of Austrian rule, rather than in La Serenissima’s glory days. Why do so many authors seem to feel that they have to make a link between Venice and decadence, or decadence and Venice? It happens with Paris as well, to some extent. Show Venice a bit more respect, please. She deserves it. Read her history. Walk through her streets. Admire her buildings. Admire her canals. And give her the respect she deserves. However, to get back to this book, the idea of someone having been the lover of both Casanova and Byron is a bit bonkers, but in fiction you can do as you please, and the book’s worth reading if only for some of the wonderful imagery it contains.
My big moan, other than the pre-pubescent seduction bit, is that it contains so little about Carnevale! Misleading title!!