Review: The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer

This book was marketed to fans of Outlander and I can totally see why. Lady doctor some how time travels back hundreds of years and falls in love.

Sounds a lot like Outlander right? If you want to get that basic, then yes it is similar to Outlander, however this book is not Outlander so if you are looking for another book series that’s basically like Outlander, then I suggest looking elsewhere. Now that said, if you liked Outlander this book has similarities that you might find intriguing and interesting so if you like time slip novels then keep reading this review.

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)

I’m on the fence with this one. On one hand, it’s entertaining and enjoyable with elements that Outlander fans will like. But on the other hand, I just felt like it was a square story trying to fit into a round hole.

There was a lot of time in the beginning talking about the plague and Siena and establishing Beatrice as a neurosurgeon and as someone with something a little odd going on. But there was nothing subtle about any of this. Too much time was spent talking about the plague and establishing that as the time period we were likely traveling to.

The other piece I struggled with was Beatrice finding Gabriele’s journal and suddenly feeling this connection with him. I get that she was supposed to be feeling this connection to him even through time, but yet something about this just seemed off to me so when she meets him in the ‘past’ I just didn’t buy their attraction. I don’t know, it just seemed off to me and I struggled with that the entire novel. I just felt like some of the elements of the story were trying to fit into place and for one reason or another, it didn’t work and this was one of those elements for me.

The writing was reasonably well written, maybe a little polishing needed but on the whole I would say well written and entertaining. I learned a lot about the plague and felt like the author’s historical research was splendid. She clearly spent time researching Siena, Italian history, art history, and how the plague effected Siena’s population in particular. I almost felt like she wanted to write a historical fiction novel and then added the time travel bit as an after thought. I personally think this would have been better as just a historical fiction novel rather than a time travel novel.

I liked Beatrice well enough. Some might say that she was a little too ‘perfect’ being good at so many things and well, but I actually didn’t mind that. I liked her and thought her dedication to picking up her brother’s research was endearing and made me like her even more. I just wish the romance had a little more oomph.

If you like time travel novels then you will probably like this one. It takes us to a different setting and time period than most historical fiction/time travel novels with romance…..which I liked that the author decided to try something different, but for me this one was just ok.

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer

  • Kindle edition, 464 pages

    Published May 16th 2017 by Touchstone
    1501152254 (ISBN13: 9781501152252)
  • Review copy provided by: Author/Publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This book counts toward: NA

  • Hosted by: NA
  • Books for Challenge Completed: NA

Recommendation: 3 out of 5

Genre: time travel, historical fiction, romance

Memorable lines/quotes:


3 thoughts on “Review: The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer

  1. I’m an Outlander fan. I’ve read a lot of TERRIBLE books marketed to Outlander fans, but this one caught my interest because the setting and period were so different. I’ll still read it at some point, even if it’s just OK. Thanks for the review though. It’s good to adjust expectations so I’m not disappointed!

    1. Yes I too am always hesitant when I see books marketed to Outlander fans because it’s always hit and miss. This wasn’t bad, just not as exciting as I had hoped 🙂
      Happy reading!

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