Amsterdam 1758, and a man is artfully seducing a woman. He is, to all appearances, Monsieur le Chevalier de Seingalt, a French government envoy selling shares to the Dutch; 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 succumb. What Seingalt doesn't know is that he has already met the veiled woman many years ago, in another life. What Lucia doesn't know is that Seingalt will go down in history as one of the world's greatest lovers, Casanova.
The inspiration for this perfectly plotted, wonderfully romantic historical novel lies in Casanova's memoirs, and a tiny reference to the woman he fell in love with at seventeen, but later met, hideously disfigured, in an Amsterdam brothel. Arthur Japin has expanded this anecdote into a deliciously entertaining and moving story of innocence and experience, love and sacrifice - all seen through eyes of the woman who first broke Casanova's heart. His cunning narrative takes the reader on an entrancing journey from the canals of Amsterdam to those of Venice, painting a glorious portrait of the eighteenth century with all its contradictions of reason and instinct, wit and sensuality, head and heart.
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