A Historic Romance of Black and White Contrasts
Set in the steaming heat of a Tuscan summer, The Daughter of Siena uses the centuries' old tradition of the Palio di Siena, the famous horse race of this ancient Italian city, as backdrop to a tale of romance and intrigue, alliances and betrayals, hope and dread fear, while at the same time exploring an alternate history for the famed Casa di Medici.
Marina Fiorato only gradually reveals the personal histories of her protagonists, allowing the reader to accompany them during the most critical moments of their lives, in which they face life-altering choices that force them to grow beyond what life has prepared them for.
There is nothing subtle in Fiorato's prose; the book is fraught with glaring contrasts: black and white, good and evil, the blessed and the damned. We all know life is far more complicated; intentions and actions aren't so easily understood, and neither heroes nor villains behave consistently. At one point in the story, Fiorato seems to grasp this incalculable element in the human spirit in the character of Guiliano Dami, when he faces death with an honest assessment of his life's choices.
Overall, I would say that the story of Pia and Riccardo is a sweet romance, with some heavy moral admonitions, set against a very thinly painted backdrop. It is a piece of historical fiction with just a smattering of local culture, geography, and historical truth.
Rated of 5
by DEJ (Riverside, CA)
Good Summer Read
Replete with vivid descriptions of the beautiful city of Siena, well-researched details of horse racing in the Palio (an event that continues to this day), and tidbits from the captivating intrigue of the Medici family, Daughter of Sienna has the potential to be a fascinating treat of historical fiction. Against this richly textured backdrop, however, the characters Marino Fiorato has created seem oddly one dimensional. Pia is the typically good, beautiful, and slightly rebellious historical heroine. Riccardo as her love interest and potential hero of the tale is served up as a literary metaphor for the figures of Romulus and Remus, sons of Rome and victims of familial intrigue that is echoed predictably in Fiorato's tale. Zebra is a classically Dickensian street urchin. Villains are not characterized beyond their distinctive peccadilloes. By far the most interesting character is Violente whose personal story is a welcome counterpoint to the less-well developed plots lines with which her story connects. Overall a reasonably satisfying read for a lazy summer afternoon, but not as stimulating or engaging as one might hope.
Rated of 5
by Samantha H. (Golden, CO)
Daughter of Siena - nothing special
This novel got off to a slow start, not because of a lack of plot elements, but because it took me a long time to gain sympathy for any of the characters. I found the sections on the history of Siena interesting, but otherwise the story did not draw me in. I also found the publisher's choice of printing the first section of each chapter in italics detracted from my reading enjoyment. Italics is not easy to read, and in many cases the first sections went on for several pages -- all in italics, which I found annoying.
All in all the book was okay. Nothing special in my opinion.
Rated of 5
by Colleen T. (Lakewood, CO)
Daughter of Siena
Average story with some interesting twists. Would like to have seen more in depth character development.
Rated of 5
by Kristine I. (Carmel, IN)
The Daughter of Sienna
This book started a bit slow for me but quickly got my attention. I enjoyed the historical aspects of the book enough to look some facts up on line. While the author did a good job of making the city of Sienna come alive to me, I found that the story was somewhat predictable. If the characters had been more multi-dimensional, it would have allowed for some more interesting plot twists. It was a quick and enjoyable read, but I did not find myself thinking about it much after I was finished.
Rated of 5
by Christine L. (Centerport, NY)
I very enjoyable read
This book was a pleasure but not a page turner and a tad bit slow. It wasn't as deeply emotionally satisfying as I had hoped for, however, it was well researched and held my interest. It's more of a romance novel than historical fiction and it fell a little short in both catagories for me. I really enjoyed the historical facts surrounding Sienna and horsemanship. I did learn a lot about that area of Italy in that time period. I liked the characters but felt they could have been more developed. It was enjoyable and I I would recommend it as a beach read but I'm not one for "beach reading". I like a lot more meat and substance in the shade.
Rated of 5
by Lora O. (Antioch, CA)
I wasn't expecting a fairy tale romance
I expected a story that used Dante's Purgatorio, Le Morte d'Arthur, the story of Romulus and Remus and the excesses of the Medici family, as source material, and set in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, would be literate, captivating and intriguing. The author's vivid and beautifully drawn descriptions of Siena, the buildings and the countryside, and even the horses racing in the Palio did transport me momentarily to Siena of the past. However, I thought the characters were one dimensional and unrealistic - Pia was incredibly beautiful, intelligent and good, Riccardo was incredibly handsome, skilled and good, the conspirators and men of the Eagle contrada were so unabashedly evil that they didn't begin to resemble real people. Even though the future of Siena was at stake, these characters seemed consumed by their romance and personal problems. And at the end of the book, matters resolved themselves in circumstances so bizarre, contrived and unbelievable that I could only laugh out loud at the silliness.
I thought this book might be more suitably recommended to young adults who are looking for romance novels.
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