This is, beyond a doubt, one of the best written historical novels I have ever read. Laurel Corona paints a vivid portrait of 17th and 18th century Venetian life, examining the roles of women in society and in the ospedale (orphanages) that earned their money from womens' choruses and orchestras. Using the premise of two sisters left to the ospedale, each choosing a different path, makes an interesting contrast between the two realms. Maddalena, a gifted violinist, chooses to remain in the cloistered life of the ospedale so that she may continue to work with the brilliant priest/composer Antonio Vivaldi. Chiaretta, a brilliant vocalist, chooses marriage to escape the cloister, even though it means she is not to sing in public again.Corona has carefully researched the period's music, social mores, architecture, government and so on. Her careful attention to detail brings this distant and very different world to life and draws the reader into it as though one is present with her characters. The musicality of her prose is ideal for describing the world in which Vivaldi composed.Highly recommended to fans of the genre, classical music afficionados, and those interested in womens' history.