Bookable Space with Joie Davidow

In this episode of Bookable Space, host Yvonne Battle-Felton is joined by Joie Davidow with her book, The Unofficial Marriage.

About the book: Set against the backdrop of the tumultuous events of 19th century Europe, An Unofficial Marriage dramatizes the equally tumultuous real-life love affair of two great artists—the famous Russian author, Ivan Turgenev, and the celebrated French opera singer, Pauline Viardot. From the moment he encounters her on the St. Petersburg stage, Ivan falls completely for Pauline. Though Pauline returns his feelings, she is bound by her singular passion for her art and her devotion to her gentle, older husband, Louis. Nevertheless, Ivan pursues Pauline across countries and continents—from Russia to France to Germany to Prussia—and in the decades that follow their fateful meeting, the lives of Pauline, Ivan, and Louis remain permanently intertwined as the lovers face jealousy, separation, the French Revolution of 1848, the cholera epidemic of 1849, the Franco-Prussian War, Turgenev’s arrest in Russia, Louis’s heartbreak and resignation, and the highs and lows of their artistic careers. “You know those unofficial marriages,” Turgenev would write almost thirty years after meeting Pauline, “They sometimes turn out more poisonous than the accepted form.”

About the author: Joie Davidow grew up in the small town of Millville, New Jersey. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a major in music, then earned a Master of Music degree from the New England Conservatory. Her teachers have included Eurfemia Giannini Gregory, Gladys Miller, Ellen Repp and, Luigi Ricci, then in his 90s, who had been a coach at the Opera di Roma when Puccini premiered his operas there.

In Los Angeles, she co-founded the alternative weekly newspaper, L.A. Weekly, with Jay Levin, a former investigative reporter for the New York Post. On the heels of the success of the L.A. Weekly, she founded a spin-off magazine, L.A. Style, chronicling the aesthetic of Los Angeles.

Since 2005, she has been living in Italy, where she teaches creative writing and works as a freelance book editor and writing coach.


Her books include

Marked for Life, Harmony 2003, ISBN 978-1-4000-4741-3

Las Mamis, Knopf 2000, ISBN 978-0-375-40879-3

Infusions of Healing, Fireside 1999, ISBN 978-0-684-85416-8

Las Christmas, Knopf 1998, ISBN 978-0-375-40151-0

An Unofficial Marriage, Arcade 2021, ISBN 978-1950691784


Her newest book, Anything but Yes, a historical novel set in 18th century Rome, will be released by Arcade in 2023.

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