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  • Published: 2 July 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241402559
  • Imprint: Particular Books
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 224
  • RRP: $48.00

Lev's Violin

An Italian Adventure

An unexpected journey through Italy, led by the voice of a violin

From the moment she hears Lev's violin for the first time, Helena Attlee is captivated. She is told that it is an Italian instrument, named after its former Russian owner. Eager to discover all she can about its ancestry and the stories contained within its delicate wooden body, she sets out for Cremona, birthplace of the Italian violin. This is the beginning of a beguiling journey whose end she could never have anticipated.

Making its way from dusty workshops, through Alpine forests, cool Venetian churches, glittering Florentine courts, and far-flung Russian flea markets, Lev's Violin takes us from the heart of Italian culture to its very furthest reaches. Its story of luthiers and scientists, princes and orphans, musicians, composers, travellers and raconteurs swells to a poignant meditation on the power of objects, stories and music to shape individual lives and to craft entire cultures.

  • Published: 2 July 2021
  • ISBN: 9780241402559
  • Imprint: Particular Books
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 224
  • RRP: $48.00

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Praise for Lev's Violin

Utterly enthralling - a beautifully written voyage of discovery that takes us deep into the heart of music-making.

Deborah Moggach, author of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

A beguiling quest that draws its author from the Italian heartland of the violin to the edge of Asiatic Russia, told with a passion that is at once gentle and compelling.

Colin Thubron, author of To a Mountain in Tibet

In limpid, searching prose, Helena Attlee shows us how music can cast spells but also bridge the distance of centuries.

Marina Benjamin, author of The Middlepause

Charming and original ... Attlee has the natural storyteller's gift.

Stephen Walsh, author of Debussy

Reading Lev's Violin is like listening to a fine instrument: thoroughly relaxing but also exciting, fun yet deeply serious ... with constant surprises and charms

Tobias Jones, author of The Dark Heart of Italy

Illuminating, engrossing ... a wide-ranging exploration of the history and cultural significance of the Italian violin


Beguiling and truly original ... An amazing journey ... one of the joys is the glimpses it affords of forgotten historical byways and of a colourful, sometimes roguish cast of characters ... Attlee has such a wonderful way with words that as a reader you almost imagine you can see, as well as hear, Lev's violin

Daily Mail

Charming ... Attlee tells the story in easy, luminous prose, infused with a deep understanding for the way human value accrues mysteriously in things, and in the act of making them


Seductive, captivating ... A book that pleases the more for so neatly resisting characterisation

Literary Review

Elegant and ambitious ... Attlee pursues her story with honesty, diligence and open-mindedness ... An original and refreshingly unorthodox approach to history


Attlee writes with rare beauty and sensitivity about music, and her love of Italian culture positively sings from the pages ... Deeply absorbing

Kate Wakeling, BBC Music Magazine

Attlee's love and unbounded enthusiasm for Italy shine through the pages ... She writes with zest about her sleuthing odyssey, her investigations into the art of lutherie and the dynasties dedicated to the crafting of these delightful objects. Whether it be a distant family history, the timber forests of the Dolomites or a momentary encounter, Attlee captures it in firm, fresh prose.

Graham Elliot, Spectator

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