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Playing By Heart

Updated: Jun 17


Age Range: 12 and up

This book takes place in 18th century Millan. It is about Emilia Salvini who dreams of marrying a man who loves music as much as she does. Emilia is the "second sister," which means she is most likely to be sent to a convent. Her father does not have enough money to pay for all his daughters to be married, so two must become nuns. The oldest sister, Maria, would gladly take her place to become a nun. Still, their father won't allow it, because Maria has brilliant language skills that will help him become a noble. To be the married one, Emilia first must earn the respect of her music tutor, who never liked her simply because she was a girl. Before she could finish her plans, her mom dies giving birth. In her grief, Emilia writes a beautiful song that is noticed by many important people. Only then does her teacher start to see her, and he then teaches her and his nephew Bellini, a handsome violinist, music theory. Will Amelia become a famous musician, and is Bellini the one for her?

Playing by Heart was based on real people who lived back in 18th century Millan. Of course, the author changed the story, but I like her improved vision better than the real one. I thought that Emilia's story of wanting to become a musician and then composing a song for her mom when she dies that gets her noticed by all is incredible. This book was so beautiful, and my only real issue with this book was Bellini. I didn't see any feelings that he had to Emilia. I couldn't tell if he liked, loved, or hated her for the entire book, and the same goes with Emilia's feelings to Bellini.

Things to mention: One of the men Emilia knows flirts and asks to marry many girls at once.

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