Special Feature: THE SCRIBE OF SIENA by Melodie Winawer

Yesterday a new time travel book hit the shelves for your reading delight! Sadly I couldn’t fit this one into my review schedule for the month but I have it on my radar for possible review this summer!

This is a book that some are calling ‘Outlander with an Italian accent’. And you all know how much I love Outlander so this obviously caught my attention. The book follows a time-traveling neurosurgeon from the twenty-first century who discovers love and a plot to destroy Siena in medieval Italy. (Winawer herself is a neuroscientist.)…..

Accomplished neurosurgeon Beatrice Trovato knows that her deep empathy for her patients is starting to impede her work. So when her beloved brother passes away, she welcomes the unexpected trip to the Tuscan city of Siena to resolve his estate, even as she wrestles with grief. But as she delves deeper into her brother’s affairs, she discovers intrigue she never imagined—a 700-year-old conspiracy to decimate the city.

After uncovering the journal and paintings of Gabriele Accorsi, the fourteenth-century artist at the heart of the plot, Beatrice finds a startling image of her own face and is suddenly transported to the year 1347. She awakens in a Siena unfamiliar to her, one that will soon be hit by the Plague.

Yet when Beatrice meets Accorsi, something unexpected happens: she falls in love—not only with Gabriele, but also with the beauty and cadence of medieval life. As the Plague and the ruthless hands behind its trajectory threaten not only her survival but also Siena’s very existence, Beatrice must decide in which century she belongs.

The Scribe of Siena is the captivating story of a brilliant woman’s passionate affair with a time and a place that captures her in an impossibly romantic and dangerous trap—testing the strength of fate and the bonds of love (summary from Goodreads).

Praise

LIBRARY JOURNAL *STARRED* REVIEW: “[The Scribe of Siena] will remind historical fiction readers of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander and Tracy Chevalier’s The Girl with the Pearl Earring…Lovers of meticulously researched historical fiction and time-travel narratives will be swept away by the spell of medieval Siena.”

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY *STARRED* REVIEW: “The vivid descriptions of the people, way of life, food, and other details of medieval Italy deepen the plot, making the book a truly immersive experience. The novel dramatically brings to life a period in Siena’s history that is still overwhelmingly neglected by historians—it is still unclear why Siena was ravaged by the plague in ways unseen in other Italian cities. Winawer has created a prodigious, vibrant tale of past and present that transports readers and fills in the historical gaps. This is a marvelous work of research and invention.”

BOOKLIST: “An engrossing historical epic. Winawer’s wide-ranging, romantic story moves apace, yet it has considerable meat on its structural bones, with plentiful details on fourteenth-century Sienese daily life, customs, art, and travel.”

REAL SIMPLE: “Like Outlander with an Italian accent.”

SHELF AWARENESS: “[A] vivid, compelling debut novel….Winawer renders her story in compelling detail, in Beatrice’s whip-smart, observant, often sarcastic voice. Supporting characters in both eras–Ben’s neighbor Donata in the present day; the sharp-eyed nun Suor Umiltá in 1347; Gabriele and his family–are also vivid and endearing. The conspiracy is vital as a plot device, but the more resonant theme is Beatrice’s deep love for both her centuries and her heartfelt struggle to decide where she belongs.”

 

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1 Comment

  1. A medical professional who, while travelling, goes back in time and falls in love. Written by an author with a strong background in science. Yeah I can see the parallels! But it’s still going on my TBR list.

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