In Sight of the Moon – Excerpt from A House Near Luccoli

For a first post in this month of love, I am offering a ‘romantic’ excerpt from my published novel, A House Near Luccoli, which imagines an intimacy with the legendary Alessandro Stradella – one of the greatest but most undervalued Baroque composers – during his time in Genoa, Italy.

A House Near Luccoli Poster for blog etc

Excerpt from A House Near Luccoli – Chapter Fourteen

After Donatella accompanies Stradella to a celebration dinner in honor of the Princess Doria’s brother, Benedetto Pamphilj, being made Cardinal; they return to the house near Luccoli at quite a late hour.

Donatella followed him up one floor too many, their association in public not half so daring as into the late night of his apartment, anticipating her aunt calling her out. Alessandro used the only candle burning to light a few others, the curtains also gesturing her to a window so she might view the bay’s shipshape stage and beaming impresario of a lighthouse. The sky showed stars, some more celebrated than others. But no moon.

He had opened the window enough for his head and shoulders to lean out. “Unless you do this.”

“Please, don’t.”

“I’ve got you,” he sang as confidently as she didn’t feel with her upper body in mid-air, yet obedient to his instruction to look sharply left and up where the nearly full moon balanced on a cloud.

“All right. I see it.” She was pulled in like the curtains, on the coolness of the wind and his maneuvers so she thought he might lie down on the couch with her, as ridiculous a notion as falling for the sight of the moon.

“I hope my aunt didn’t hear.” She sat up, crossing her arms.

“You’re your own responsibility.” He removed his coat, folding it on the closed top of the harpsichord, his cravat floating up and down to land there, too.

“She’s like that,” Donatella felt surprisingly satisfied, “when she isn’t listened to.”

“She didn’t want you to go?”

“She didn’t want me asked to go.”

“Ah. I was hoping I’d found a rebel in you. Instead you do as you’re told or asked.”

“I could refuse either.”

“Or negotiate between the two.” He sat at the writing table. “I need more vino.” He stretched his arms out and laid his head down facing her with a brother’s benignity.

“I think she sleeps with the key.”

“You’re light on your feet.”


“If she wakes, you have an excuse.”

“I do?”

“Just letting her know you’re back.”

“She’d be suspicious anyway.”

He jumped up. “Especially if you had something else to tell her.” He went down to his knees, his arms covering hers in white and his hands praying. “What could it be?” They opened and folded around hers. “I know!” His lips bowed and proposed to her fingertips. “Marry me.”

Even a princess would have despaired as he begged Donatella to take him lightly. He sat on the floor propped against her legs, his head tilted into her skirt like a cat in its own space happening to touch upon hers.

Just came upon this new Youtube video of a Stradella aria for soprano & continuo:
E’ pazzia l’innamorarsi
Susanne Rydén soprano, Alessandro Palmeri cello.
CD: Stradella, Italian Arias. Ensemble Harmonices Mundi.
Conductor: Claudio Astronio.

Old View of Genoa, where A House Near Luccoli takes place.

Old View of Genoa, where A House Near Luccoli takes place.

A House Near Luccoli is available at in Paperback, Kindle and Audiobook editions.

Also at barnesandnoble in Paperback and NOOK Book editions.

Thank you to all who have already read it and to those who have contributed to some great reviews the novel has received.  Of course, more are always welcome!

Visit my page for all my publications.

donatellawquillunshaded©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Two Five Star Reviews!

Just to go along with my last post, I want to share a couple of reviews I just received for A House Near Luccoli.

A House Near Luccoli Poster for blog etc

The first is from Lauren Scott, who is a wonderful inspiring poet, who writes from the heart. Thank you so much, Lauren!

I follow Author DM Denton on her blog, so I’m very familiar with her beautiful and poetic writing. Reading A House Near Luccoli was a
romantic and lovely experience. I wasn’t knowledgeable of Alessandro Stradella, but reading this wonderful book gave me a clear window into
his life. What remarkable visuals DM Denton paints with her words, taking us back to the 17th century. Not only was the story compelling, reading of the
the relationship between Stradella and Donatella, but her book was also an interesting cultural experience. If you’re looking for a book
that you simply can’t put down, then I highly recommend this historical novel, A House Near Luccoli.

Here is Lauren’s review at

Visit Lauren’s beautiful poetry blog: lscottsthoughts. She has a poetry book coming out very soon!

The second review is from Sam, who is a Goodreads Librarian and lives in the UK (Wales). She won a paperback copy of the novel in the last Goodreads giveaway contest I ran. Thank you so much Sam!

A House Near Luccoli is a poetic and thought-provoking historical novel. At times joyous, at others melancholy, it tells the story of Donatella, when the composer Alessandro Stradella moves into the house she shares with her aunt and bed-ridden grandmother. Stradella takes over the top floor and soon becomes a central part of Donatella’s life.

The book is not a long one, but it’s not a fast read. There is so much detail in virtually every sentence that it’s something to linger over and savour. I often found myself rereading passages just to be sure I’d caught every last nuance.

The book is set in late seventeenth century Genoa, and the descriptions of the house, the city as a whole, and some of the places within it are a delight to read. You get a real sense of the place and the people who lived there, and can join Donatella on one of her rare trips out of the house, experiencing what she does along the way.

The characters are exquisitely painted. Alessandro Stradella himself was a real person, a composer who has all but been forgotten today, but who was the equivalent of a rock star in his time. His life was quite the scandal at times, and he moved around Italy to escape those scandals, finally ending up in Genoa in his middle age. There are hints of his past in some of the stories and references made to happenings in other cities, but Genoa seems to have accepted him, and he composes, conducts and performs his music in a variety of settings. His character was certainly fascinating enough that I’m going to find out a bit more about the real man, and listen to some of his music.

Donatella is a lovely, loving woman. She clearly adores her grandmother, Nonna, who was an opera singer when she was younger. Although Nonna never leaves her bed, she comes to life through her conversation. It is Nonna who persuades Donatella to become a copyist for Stradella, although Donatella’s aunt, Despina, is bound to disapprove. The three women are a wonderful contrast. Nonna pushes at the boundaries of respectability. Donatella, who is in her thirties, has resigned herself to being unmarried and has settled into a drab existence revolving around her home, although she does have occasional flashes of rebellion. Despina is strict, disapproving of many things, and anxious to maintain propriety at all times. Add the flamboyant Stradella and his disrespectful manservant to the household, along with the ladies’ housemaid and the cook, and a few supporting characters, and the whole becomes a wonderful contrast of characterisation.

This was a truly beautiful story and one which I thoroughly enjoyed. The combination of period and location was one I wasn’t particularly familiar with, and it was a joy to read of a place and time that were unknown to me before.

This book was won in a Goodreads giveaway. My thanks to the author for making it available, and for posting it all the way over here, and for the thoughtful inclusion of two beautiful bookmarks and a card—thanks D.M.! The author has no input to, or preview of, this review.

Here is Sam’s review at Goodreads.

It means so much to have one’s writing appreciated and understood, as I know many of you feel.

Hope everyone is enjoying the start of autumn. We are having a spell of beautiful bright sunny days and crisp nights. Blessings!

Autumn Crocus Copyright 2013 by DM Denton

Autumn Crocus
Copyright 2013 by DM Denton

img002©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.