Find a Christian store
Book Image

Playing by Heart

By Carmela A. Martino


Emilia Salvini dreams of marrying a man who loves music as much as she does. But in 18th-century Milan, being the "second sister" means she'll likely be sent to a convent instead. Emilia's only hope is to prove her musical talents crucial to her father's quest for nobility. First, though, she must win over her music tutor, who disdains her simply for being a girl. But before she can carry out her plan, a tragedy sends the family into mourning. In her sorrow, Emilia composes a heartrending sonata that causes the maestro to finally recognize her talent. He begins teaching her music theory alongside Antonio Bellini, the arrogant great-nephew of a wealthy marquis. Emilia's feelings toward her rival gradually change as she strives to outdo him. But just when her dreams seem within reach, Emilia learns that her success could destroy not only her future but her sister's very life.

The novel is inspired by the lives of two extraordinary sisters who were far ahead of their time, composer Maria Teresa Agnesi and mathematician Maria Gaetana Agnesi. At its core, Playing by Heart is the story of two teens struggling to follow their true calling, even when it conflicts with their father's goals. It's a clean historical romance appropriate for ages 11 and up.

Book Takeaway:

We are meant to use God's gifts in service to God and to bring joy to the world.


Year Title Description
2013 Windy City Romance Writers Association Four Seasons Romance Writing Contest First place in the young-adult category

Why the author wrote this book:

After learning about the little-known Agnesi sisters, I wanted others, especially young people, to know their story. The sisters were not only ahead of their time but they longed to use their talents to serve God. And in the case of Maria Gaetana Agnesi, she put aside her celebrity status to follow her calling.


"Playing by Heart is a well written historical novel. Family and faith are woven into this remarkable story. The author adds a glossary, recommendations and online information. Great book club choice!"
- Kathleen on March 19, 2021

Write a Review

Developed by Camna, LLC

This is a service provided by ACFW, but does not in any way endorse any publisher, author, or work herein.