Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer | Review #TimelessTour @SimonSchusterCA

The last stop for me on the Timeless Tour is a review for Melodie Winawer's The Scribe of Siena! Hope you've enjoyed my stops on this tour and that you've visited the other bloggers along the way. Also, if you've loved learning about these books and authors then come join us for an Twitter Chat with the authors May 4th @ 1PM EST #TimelessTour.

The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer
Published: May 16, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Pages: 464
Received: for honest review via publisher

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.

In the past, I'd only really read historical fiction set in England or France. I've read one other set in Italy, so I was pretty excited to visits a different area set there. I absolutely loved the way Ms. Winawer wrote about Siena both present and past - such beautiful descriptions, but not overwhelming with too many details. It was perfectly balanced.

I found that Beatrice's story involved her life of medicine, her love of history and art with her ability to finally find love.What a combination for a historical time travel story. I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy the time travel aspect as it was supposed to be a historical fiction story, but it works so well in this book. Not only do we get to learn a bit about what her brother, Ben, was researching before his death, but we get to see Beatrice experience it first hand. How amazing would that be? She stays pretty calm considering she jumps back in time, but I think that was the best use of her medical/scientific background that allowed her to assess things and move forward with thought out ideas and not panic like many others would have.

What is most amazing about Beatrice is her ability to adapt and use her skills for whatever comes her way. As a neurosurgeon, she was very focused and intuitive (especially with her "empathy" power she seems to use to save people). As a historian, she gets to business trying to finish what her brother started (learning about the plague that hit Siena in 1437) and was enjoying getting back to her roots and teachings from her brother. And finally, as a scribe in medieval Siena, she can use both her previous skill sets to fit into 14th century Italy. I was just amazed at all of this. I also think that she felt like maybe she belonged more to one time over another, but which one?

Besides the lovely written history of Siena, there is also the descriptive artwork mentioned throughout the story. It is written in such a way that you can picture these beautiful pieces in your mind. And as an added bonus, we find that Beatrice falls for an artist, Gabriele, who's journal she used to accidentally transport her to his time. 

The Scribe of Siena is such an amazing look at medieval Italy with it's interesting history, beautiful artwork and terrifying plague. I'd love another chance to learn more about Italian history via other historical fiction stories. 

About the Author:
Melodie Winawer is a physician-scientist and Associate Professor of Neurology at Columbia University. A graduate of Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia University with degrees in biological psychology, medicine, and epidemiology, she has published forty-seven nonfiction articles and book chapters. She is fluent in Spanish and French, literate in Latin, and has a passable knowledge of Italian. Dr. Winawer lives with her spouse and their three young children in Brooklyn, New York. The Scribe of Siena is her first novel. -Source

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