Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review of A Golden Web

Alessandra is desperate to escape.Desperate to escape her stepmother, who's locked her away for a year; to escape the cloister that awaits her and the marriage plans that have been made for her; to escape the expectations that limit her and every other girl in fourteenth-century Italy. There's no tolerance in her quiet village for Alessandra and her keen intelligence and unconventional ideas.In defiant pursuit of her dreams, Alessandra undertakes an audacious quest, her bravery equaled only by the dangers she faces. Disguised and alone in a city of spies and scholars, Alessandra will find a love she could not foresee -- and an enduring fame.In this exquisite imagining of the centuries-old story of Alessandra Giliani, the world's first female anatomist, acclaimed novelist Barbara Quick gives readers the drama, romance, and rich historical detail for which she is known as she shines a light on an unforgotten -- and unforgettable -- heroine.
[from Goodreads]

Rating:   2 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Historical YA readers
High point: Interesting plot
Low point:  Didn't engage me
Reader maturity:  15+

I generally enjoy historical fiction, but something about A Golden Web put me off. Whether it was the stilted language of both Alessandra's thoughts and the dialogue or the bawdy references to things that may have been acceptable conversation in fourteenth-century Italy but made my twenty-first century self blush, I'm not sure.

Alessanda never came alive to me; I sympathized, but I couldn't manage empathy. She's a smart and hard-working girl, but I couldn't connect with the character on the level I had hoped to. However, I enjoyed the references to every day Italian life and the insight into the workings of universities in the 1300s. I always assumed they were like modern colleges, with dedicated buildings and courses, so I was surprised by the historical format.

As I mentioned above, there are some coarse references to anatomy and certain physical acts. In context, it's not too shocking, but the book does mention things that aren't considered polite conversation today. Due to that, I was confused about the intended reader. A Golden Web is written in a Middle Grade style, but some of the content is definitely for older readers.

Title:  A Golden Web
Author:  Barbara Quick
Genre:   Fiction - Historical
Year:   2010
Book Source: Won from A Good Addiction

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