Book Review: Water Music by Christine Balint

About the Book:

Winner of Viva la Novella IX

In eighteenth-century Venice, orphan Lucietta is raised by a fisherman’s family yet supported by a secret benefactor to study music. At 16, she takes up her position at the Derelitti Convent, one of the prestigious musical orphanages for girls, playing the violin in the ensemble and training the younger musicians.

Confronted by her benefactor’s plans for her life, Lucietta uncovers the true legacy of these women and her role in bridging the past.

Published by Brio Books

Released 6th October 2021

My Thoughts:

Inspired by the musical orphanages of Venice that were in place from the 15th century through to the end of the 18th century, Water Music is a thoughtful novella about a young woman’s coming of age, her realisation of her place in the world and what she seeks for her future. The history of these musical orphanages is quite fascinating, early music conservatories that were run for and by women, financed by a unique system of patronage that gave orphan girls with talent a high-quality musical education if they were so inclined, from within the safe confines of a convent.

As Lucietta adjusts to her new life within the orphanage, two men – a suitor and her mysterious father – give her pause for contemplation over the direction she wants her life to proceed in. She can either take the safe and comfortable path of marriage to a man of means or remain in the convent and live with a sense of agency over her own life, each option with its own set of confines.

The writing is deeply introspective and quite beautiful in parts, but I always feel like I am left wanting after reading a novella – they never seem long enough. Winner of the 2021 Viva La Novella Prize, Water Music is recommended reading for lovers of literary historical fiction.


Thanks to the author for the review copy.

4 thoughts on “Book Review: Water Music by Christine Balint

  1. Pingback: Christine Balint, Water music (#BookReview) | Whispering Gums

  2. Pingback: Every Day is Gertie Day, by Helen Meany (2021 co-winner of the Seizure Viva La Novella Prize) | ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

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