Cover image for Vittoria
Merle, Robert, 1908-2004.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Idole. English
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
San Diego : Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, [1989]

General Note:
Translation of: L'idole.

"A Helen and Kurt Wolff book."
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Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Set against the background of sixteenth-century Italy, this engaging novel recounts the story of Vittoria Peretti. Blessed with beauty, charm, and intelligence, Vittoria evokes passion, devotion, and even violence from those closest to her. Ultimately, the very attributes that inspire such reactions lead her to a tragic fate. Vittoria's story is narrated by a series of "witnesses," including a mute priest, a Moorish concubine, Vittoria's neurotic and misogynistic twin brother, and a cardinal who schemes and manipulates with a ruthlessness and cynicism that Machiavelli would admire. Through their eyes we encounter a civilization both brilliant and corrupt, in which a drawn dagger often lurks behind the sweetest smile. It is a society that outwardly cherishes females; yet it takes brutal, merciless revenge upon those women who deviate from male-imposed norms. Merle displays a good understanding of the culture and institutions of the late Renaissance, and his story is rich in detail and replete with finely drawn characterizations. --Jay Freeman

Library Journal Review

Trapped in a marriage of convenience, Victoria Peretti, whose beauty rivals that of Helen of Troy, is ripe for the picking when larger-than-life Prince Orsini comes calling. Their fight for happiness in 16th-century Italy, where women are chattels, and adultery is punishable by death, is narrated by no less than 20 individuals. The old adage, ``too many cooks spoil the broth,'' certainly applies here, as what could have been a compelling story is fragmented and weakened. In his preface, French author Merle, who wrote the popular Day of the Dolphin ( LJ 5/1/69), informs us that the real Vittoria was sadly underestimated as a person, since ``female beauty was overvalued in a male dominated society.'' Unfortunately, after reading this limp and often tedious story, all we remember about Vittoria is just that, her beauty. Not recommended.--Lydia Burruel Johnson, Mesa P.L., Ariz. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.