Casanova: Actor, Spy, Lover, Priest by Ian Kelly

2015 Limelight Reviews

What an amazing man! Ian Kelly reveals that Casonova was much more than the libertine we know of so well. He travelled, he wrote, he made – and lost – fortunes, he conned people, he made loyal friends, and, yes, he was a ladies’ man.

The son of an actress and born in Venice, Casanova was an intelligent young man intended for the priesthood. But this wasn’t enough for him. In an age when it took all day to travel as far as we would go in an hour, Casanova travelled over 40,000km! St Petersburg and Constantinople, London, Rome and Paris – all these cities played major roles in his life.

Casonova created a minor title for himself and mingled with the nobility and even royalty. He impressed people with his abilities by creating successful state lotteries, he collaborated on the libretto for Don Giovanni, he was an actor both on and off the stage, and he was a spy. He got on the wrong side of the Venetian Inquisition and on the right side of Catherine the Great of Russia. He was a prolific writer, producing forty-two books as well as his extensive memoirs.

Ian Kelly has used those memoirs, as well as many, many other resources, to write an excellent biography of this intriguing man. You get a great feel for the life of Casanova – his love of women (and occasionally, men), his love of food, his fascination with the Kabbalah, his adventurous spirit. Eighteenth century Europe, an era of great change, comes to life, drawing on his extensive memories of his life and the people he knew well, and those he met in passing.

This is an excellent book, bringing to life a famous, but perhaps not all that well-known, man.

Casanova: Actor, Spy, Lover, Priest by Ian Kelly


Wendy Kaye
SMSA Volunteer