Most of my reading time is spent in the past as I do love historical fiction, A time travel novel would be my next favorite read so I was pleased to be sent a copy of The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer at no cost for review.
About the Scribe of Siena:
Equal parts transporting love story and gripping historical conspiracy, debut author Melodie Winawer takes readers deep into medieval Italy, where the past and present blur and a twenty-first century woman will discover a plot to destroy Siena.
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.
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.
I fell into this book and it was very hard for me to put it down. Beatrice is an accomplished neurosurgeon who lives an ordered life in New York. Her only family, her brother Ben, is an historian living in Sienna, Italy. Ben is researching the impacts of the plague on Siena in the 14th century and thinks he might have found something of great significance regarding why Siena’s population suffered a much greater death toll than other city/states at the time. Beatrice hasn’t seen Ben in quite some time and she has just decided to take a trip to Italy to visit when she gets word that he has died. She is his sole heir so she heads over to see the city he loved so much and take a break. But she soon finds herself following up on his research to see if she could bring his big discovery to light.
As Beatrice settles in to Siena she starts reading a diary from an artist of the 14th century. When she sees one of his remaining works she notices that she bears a striking resemblance to one of the women in the painting. How can this be? One day while reading the diary something happens and she awakens in a Siena she does not recognize. She soon realizes that she is in the 14th century. And she knows the plague is coming.
I do love a good time travel novel and this certainly qualifies. Of course to fully enjoy a book in this genre you just have to go with it – much the male heroes do. It is curious how they are always so accepting of their loves telling them fantastical tales of future worlds. There is much that requires the suspension of belief – Beatrice’s smooth transition into society, her being given a position of some import and the fortuitous choice made in her childhood to teach her Italian. For all time travelers tend to land where they speak the language. But all of that aside the writing is what makes a book and the writing here is very, very good. I was invested in these characters and I really would like to visit with them again.
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