Books · Reviews

Book Thoughts: In Lucia’s Eyes (Arthur Japin)

★★★★★☆☆

Title: In Lucia’s Eyes (Orginal Dutch title: Een Schitterend Gebrek)
Author: Arthur Japin
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: 2003
Edition: Paperback, published by Vintage in 2006

Amsterdam 1758, and a man is artfully seducing a woman. He is, to all appearances, Monsieur le Chevalier de Seingalt; she is a courtesan, well-known in Amsterdam for the fact that she never removes her veil. He sets her a challenge: if she can find a woman who has suffered after falling in love with him, she is entitled to resist his charms; if not, she should play his game. What Seingalt doesn’t know is that he has already met the veiled woman many years ago, in another life. 

It was only when I started reading this novel that I realised that it was by a Dutch author. Had I known, I would have read it in its original language. I enjoyed the translation regardless, though I was not sold on the narrative completely.

This is actually a fictional account of the first love of Giacomo Casanova, Lucia. The author takes the facts (as recounted in Casanova’s autobiography) and imagines what her life may have been like. He does a credible job of weaving a fascinating, but tragic tale, into a story of first love and ruin.

I enjoyed much of the book, but at times I simply did not quite ‘stay’ in the story. I understood Lucia, but I never quite felt like I knew her. She always stayed kind of aloof for me. I also did not find Casanova quite convincing. The ending was bittersweet, but kind of perfect, and made up for parts of the story that did not quite work for me. It did have some beautifully written passages, which makes me inclined to re-read this in Dutch at some point.

On the whole this novel read away easily and I enjoyed the read. If you like historical fiction that is not too heavy or lengthy, this may be a book worth reading.

5 out of 7 stars

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