Fiction – paperback; Virago; 636 pages; 2002.
Set in 18th century Venice, M. R. Lovric’s Carnevale is a lush, extravagant tale of a female artist who is seduced by Casanova, the world’s greatest lover, and then, a generation later, falls in love with Byron, the world’s greatest poet.
Lovric does a fantastic job of recreating a past era; her writing is incredibly poetic and evocative. She captures the sights and sounds of Venice superbly; the novel is worth reading for this alone. Her writing is also highly erotic, which adds even more flavour to a romantic story. But the reliance on sensual writing does wear thin after a short while and the book would benefit greatly from some severe editing; in my opinion it’s about 200 pages too long.
Despite this, Carnevale is a beautifully written novel which should particularly appeal to anyone who has visited Venice or has a fascination with either Casanova or Byron, two historical characters I knew little about.