Virginia B. (Forest Park, IL)
A couple of good twists
I love historical fiction. I thought that the start of the book was a little flat and was waiting for something to "happen". And something did happen. It had a couple of twists that I did not anticipate. I would up enjoying the story.
John W. (Clayton, Missouri)
Life & Love in 18th Century Siena
If you like historical fiction, traveled to Tuscany and found yourself wondering what life in Siena or the other walled towns was like during the 18th century then you’ll love this novel. The plot centers around the famous horserace in Siena, the Palio. It is a great love story in which the beautiful Pia falls in love for an unknown rider in the race although her father has made arrangements for her to marry another person that would benefit the family. A shocking event puts a quick end to the normal race festivities and the course of Pia's future. The remainder of the story is one of political intrigue and disappointed loves.
If you were hoping for upbeat and light writing of a romance novel then you’ll be disappointed – there are quite a few instances of the darker side of life. The author’s writing style might cause some readers concern – she switches back and forth between character’s perspectives.
I found just what I was looking for in this book – a glimpse of the good and bad of society in Siena during the 18th century. Once I started reading I was unable to put it down and read it through the night! Definitely a fan!
Joan V. (Miller Place, NY)
Daughter of Siena
I wish I had enjoyed this book more. The beginning was very predictable with stock characters, i.e., the good people were SO “good” and the bad -the other extreme. Many parts of the book were overly melodramatic. It was not until almost half-way through the book that the mystery and intrigue hooked me. That was when the twists and surprises emerged. In my opinion, the Violante was the most fully fleshed out character and the most interesting.
The author did a very good job in describing the Palio, you could truly feel the tension in those scenes. Obviously she did a LOT of research into the history of Siena – which was wonderful to read – and also a lot of detail about horses and the way they were trained.
This would be a good, light, vacation read, but I don’t think particularly suited for a book club.
Judy K. (Conroe, TX)
I liked it, BUT....
Whenever I read a historical novel, I'm always afraid it will actually be a romance novel. While I love history, I'm not so fond of romance. This book, has a foot in both worlds. It could have been a Walt Disney movie. All of the bad guys got their come-uppance, all loose ends were tied up and there was some jaw-dropping serendipity. Having said all of that, I truly enjoyed reading about the Palio, the contrade and the Medici. I just wish the story could've been less fanciful and more realistic. It could've been a really good book.
Iris C. (Honolulu, HI)
The Daughter of Siena
Readers who enjoy romance novels will love this book as it is a cut above most of the novels of this genre. The usual components of the romance novel are here, but Fiorato has done her research and is able to provide a believable storyline. Her characters are skillfully drawn.
Vivian H. (Winchester, VA)
Enjoyable Historical Romance with Intrigue
The Daughter of Siena is a book I couldn't put down. Having spent my honeymoon in Tuscany with several days in Siena, I came to love this medieval city and thoroughly enjoyed the detailed descriptions of the contrade, the historic rivalries, the hatred of the Medici, the intrigue caused by the papacy and the political machinations surrounding the Palio, the horse race held twice each summer in the Piazza del Campo.
This tale involves political and family plotting and intrigue, murder, torture, love, romance, mystery, patricide, infanticide, a damsel in distress, vote rigging, allegorical artwork, an appreciation of horses and always, the city of Siena. Women in early 18th Century Italy were pawns – used to marry off for political or financial advantage and treated as chattel. But in this story we are introduced to two women of substance – Pia and Violetta – both strong and compassionate survivors; both enduring unfathomable heartache; both looking to Bruno – a farrier’s son as a savior. Was the story predictable? Yes. Did it matter? Not really. I will certainly look for other works by Marina Fiorato.
Debra P. (Belmont, NC)
Love this book
I love historical fiction and this book has it all. There is romance, intrigue, historical accuracy...I really love it when I learn something about an era or culture at the same time I'm enjoying a good story..In particular, this author does a great job setting the scene with each chapter intro. I look forward to introducing this in our book group.