Playing by Heart
Playing by Heart is inspired by two amazing sisters who were far ahead of their time—one a mathematician and the other a composer. At its core, the novel is the story of two teens struggling to follow their true calling, even when it conflicts with their father’s goals.
An interesting story
Emilia is a young woman in Milan who has become somewhat of a musical prodigy. She's a composer as well as being adept at the harpsichord. She's also the second oldest daughter in a family with many kids. Her father has dedicated his life to gaining a noble title and wants to marry two of his daughters to noblemen. The problem? Emilia's older sister desires to become and nun and Emilia herself has already found the man she wants to marry and he has nothing to his name. This is the story of two sister navigating a world in which women weren't supposed to have minds of their own.
What I liked:
I learned so much in this story about music and like in 18th century Milan. It was a fascinating read. The writing flows easily and Emilia is such a strong, wonderful character. She's willing to sacrifice her own happiness for that of her sister. She's endearing and brave. It was a pleasure to read about her.
What was just okay:
The book is young. Much younger than I'd imagined when seeing the cover. Emilia is 13 when the story begins, putting it almost in to MG territory, yet she speaks as if she's much older. It was sort of an odd disconnect.
This story is a pleasure to read. There's no lack of characters to root for or interesting scenes to lose yourself in.
This beautifully written Young Adult novel centers around the strong faith of two sisters, Emilia and Maria, and their extraordinary talents. The book is set in 18th Century Milan, Italy and focuses on their relationships with their father, as well as their struggle to follow the paths they believe God wants them to take. Unfortunately, they lived in a time when young women were subject to their father’s wishes. And their father hoped to showcase their incredible gifts to advance himself to nobility and was not interested in their desires.
This is the first book I’ve read by this author and loved her writing style. In fact, the moment I finished the book, I read her first novel Rosa Sola, which I also thoroughly enjoyed. Her beautiful descriptions bring her books to life. I found the passages describing Emilia’s music particularly lovely. The author does a wonderful job of showing society and culture of 18th century Italy. This time period makes for a very interesting book, especially for young women, to see the choices and educational opportunities available to girls their age at that time in history.
This book highlights something that’s near and dear to my heart – that we all have gifts from God and we should find ways to use these gifts to help others. I loved that these young women knew their talents were from God and they longed to use them in a positive way. I also really liked the underlying passages of jealousy. This is something we all can relate to, feeling envious of another’s successes. How Emilia deals with this and works through it is a wonderful example for readers to emulate.
This historic fiction, inspired by two real sisters who lived in 18th Century Italy, would make a fantastic bookclub or classroom choice, full of many great topics for discussion.
A beautiful, moving story!
This is a beautiful piece of historical fiction, set in 18th century Milan. The main character is a musician, and it was fascinating to watch her talents and opportunities unfold, especially during a time when the education of young women was considered unnecessary. Like her lovely compositions, I was moved by the story and the superb writing. The details were so well-researched, I never once felt anything but totally immersed in the time and place. If you like historical fiction about strong young women, I highly recommend this book! Finishing this book gave me the same satisfied feeling as listening to a brilliant concert!