Review Blog

May 05 2011

Song of the Dove by Errol Broome

cover image

Ill. by Sonia Kretschmar. Walker Books, 2011. ISBN 9781921529245.
Picture book. In Song of the dove Errol Broome relates the true story of the musician Bellini and his tragic love for Maddalena Fumaroli. While he began to write his beautiful music, Bellini made a living teaching young people to sing. One of his pupils was Maddalena, and they gradually grew closer. They believed that they would be like doves, which live in pairs and 'stay that way for life'. However Signor Fumaroli did not want his daughter to marry Bellini and ordered him from the house. Bellini was determined to become famous and win the hand of his beloved and vowed that after he wrote ten operas they would be together. He eventually triumphed but their love was put to the test.
This moving love story is sure to delight children who enjoy a sad story. Young music lovers will be pleased to be able to read about such a famous musician and will feel sorry for the tragic lovers. They will also question whether Bellini put fame before love, by not returning to Maddalena as soon as he could have. Short biographical information about Bellini, as well as a list of his ten operas, is also given at the back of the book.
The illustrations are sumptuous. Beautiful details like richly embossed wallpapers, extravagant flower gardens and figures set in cameo like frames make the historical period come alive. The gorgeous clothes, hairstyles and buildings of the 19th century are faithfully drawn and add to the reader's understanding of the period.
I am always happy to read a love story and I enjoyed learning about Bellini and Maddalena, especially as with the visual feast of Kretschmar's beautiful illustrations gave me such pleasure.
Pat Pledger

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