The Scribe of Siena: Book summary and reviews of The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer

The Scribe of Siena

by Melodie Winawer

The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer X
The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer

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Book Summary

Equal parts transporting love story, meticulously researched historical fiction, and compelling time-travel narrative - think The Girl with a Pearl Earring meets Outlander - 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.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Will remind historical fiction readers of Diana Gabaldon's Outlander and Tracy Chevalier's The Girl with the Pearl Earring…Lovers of meticulously researched historical fiction and time-travel narratives will be swept away by the spell of medieval Siena." - Library Journal

"Starred Review. This is a marvelous work of research and invention." - Publishers Weekly

"Despite an overreliance on surprisingly well-preserved documents, clues to the central mystery wind carefully through both time lines as Beatrice gradually unravels a Florentine conspiracy and, always cognizant of what the future holds, takes risks to save those she loves." - Booklist

"The realities of day-to-day existence in 1340s Europe are so viscerally represented that readers will readily accept the fanciful premise." - Kirkus

"The Scribe of Siena is one part historical mystery and one part love story with a captivating dose of art mixed in for good measure. If that weren't enough, it all comes together in that most evocative of settings: Siena, Italy. Winawer's smart debut is a joy to read! - Meg Waite Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Wednesday Sisters and The Race for Paris

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Reader Reviews

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Michelle S. (Minneapolis, MN)

Enjoyable historical fiction
A great book and one of the best I have read in a while, I was hooked from the first page. I love historical novels especially the medieval era specifically in Sienna which was all new to me. This novel is definitely a must-read.

Alyce T. (San Antonio, TX)

The Scribe of Siena
Dr. Melodie Winawer can add accomplished author to her impressive list of degrees and achievements. Melodie has displayed a knack for putting the reader into the thick of the plot. We were carried along from the 21st Century to the 14th century effortlessly as the love story of Beatrice and Gabriele developed. The research of Italian history and language added to our enjoyment.

Hopefully Winawer will follow up with another novel.

Becky H. (Chicago, IL)

The Scribe of Siena
A 20th century neurosurgeon is transported to Siena, Italy, in 1346 AD where she becomes a scribe and falls in love. That is the short story of this vastly absorbing and intriguing novel.

The characters are fully developed, especially Beatrice, Gabriele, Clara and Accorsi. The plot is constantly offering a new twist even as the threat of the Bubonic Plague approaches. The flavor of medieval Italy is beguiling, however some of the more "indelicate" and primitive aspects of life are glossed over. The patterns of daily life in and around a bustling market and monastery are clearly set forth. The talents needed of a scribe in a society where most had little or no education are delineated.

I don't think I would make Beatrice's choices, but the book is a winner. 5 of 5 stars

Nancy, California

Delightful Historical Fiction Set in Tuscany
I am delighted to review "The Scribe of Siena". Author Melodie Winawer introduced me to a subject of which I knew nothing, the plague in 1300 Italy. She used time travel so effectively to accomplish this, that I overcame my dislike of this method. Also, it is so very apparent that she deeply researched the Italy of current and fourteenth century times, the Italian language, and fresco painting.
I eagerly await Melodie Winawer's next book!

Sara P. (Longview, WA)

The Scribe of Siena
It is difficult to write a good story about a historical period using time travel, but this author does it well. Beatrice is a neurosurgeon, and has been orphaned twice so she has no family in the 21st century. She travels to Siena because her brother died there while doing academic research on the Plague. There is mystery, romance and a deep desire to find home and thus her true self. It draws the reader in to care, not only about Beatrice, but about the fate of the people of Siena.

Tilli F. (Holyoke, MA)

A romp through the 14th Century
when I first started this wonderful book I wasn't sure i would like it. But I was soon hooked. The main character, Beatrice, is memorable. The love interest is faintly drawn so that the strength stays with Beatrice throughout. The idea of skipping between centuries at first is startling but soon it appears normal, or even desirable. The other characters are also richly drawn, and the touches of history are explanatory and grounding. In the end I couldn't put it down and hurried to the end to find out where it ended. The fact that the author has medical background only adds to her perspective. All in all a delicious trip to fourteenth century Italy. Highly recommended.

...14 more reader reviews

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More Information

More Information

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.

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