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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"The Sign of the Weeping Virgin" by Alana White~Medici Historical Fiction



Romance and intrigue abound in The Sign of the Weeping Virgin an evocative historical mystery that brings the Italian Renaissance gloriously to life.

In 1480 Florentine investigator Guid Antonio Vespucci and his nephew Amerigo are tangled in events that threaten to destroy them and their beloved city.

Marauding Turks abduct a beautiful young Florentine girl and sell her into slavery. And then a holy painting begins weeping in Guid Antonio s church. Are the tears manmade or a sign of God s displeasure with Guid Antonio himself?

In a finely wrought story for lovers of medieval and renaissance mysteries everywhere Guid Antonio follows a spellbinding trail of clues to uncover the thought-provoking truth about the missing girl and the weeping painting s mystifying and miraculous? tears all pursued as he comes face to face with his own personal demons.

PRAISE FOR THE SIGN OF THE WEEPING VIRGIN

“Fans of historical mysteries will thoroughly enjoy this chance to visit the Italy of 1480 in the company of real-life historical figure Guid’Antonio Vespucci, a Florence lawyer. Backed up by sure-handed storytelling and scrupulous research into the period, White creates richly evocative descriptions of Renaissance-era Florence certain to please the amateur historian and armchair tourist.” - Publishers Weekly Review

“A Florentine lawyer must solve a murder to keep his city from imploding. One hopes that White’s clever tale, meticulously researched and pleasingly written, is the first in a series that will bring Florence and its many famous denizens to life.” - Starred Kirkus Review


PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY SUMMARY :

Fans of historical mysteries will thoroughly enjoy this chance to visit the Italy of 1480 in the company of real-life historical figure Guid’Antonio Vespucci, a Florence lawyer. Returning from a government mission, he finds his home city distraught over the kidnapping of a wealthy young woman, Camilla Rossi da Vinci, supposedly by Turks. The Florentines are equally abuzz, though, over a painting of the Virgin Mary in Guid’Antonio’s family church that has miraculously begun to shed tears. Tasked with investigating by city leader Lorenzo de’ Medici, who’s preoccupied by his war against the pope, Guid’Antonio partners with his favorite nephew, Amerigo, and uncovers even more mystery, including a secret message painted by artist Sandro Botticelli on the church’s wall. Backed up by sure-handed storytelling and scrupulous research into the period, White creates richly evocative descriptions of Renaissance-era Florence certain to please the amateur historian and armchair tourist.

PARTICULARS OF THE BOOK :

Published by:  Five Star Publishing
Pages:  369 plus Study Guide  (384)
Genre:  Historical Fiction
More about this book:  Alana White
Buy your copy here:  Amazon


ABOUT THE AUTHOR :


Alana's passion for Renaissance Italy has taken her to Florence for research on the Vespucci and Medici families on numerous occasions.  There along cobbled streets unchanged over the centuries, she traces their footsteps, listing to their imagined voices:  Guid'Antionio Vespucci and his favoorite nephew, Amerigo Vespucci, was a Macavity Award finalist.  She is a member of the Author's Guild, Sisters in Crime, the Women's National Book Association, and the Historical Novel Society.  Alana loves hearing from readers, and you can contact her at www.alanawhite.com.  (Taken from the book jacket)  She is currently working on her second Guid'Antonio Vespucci mystery.


THE BOOKISH DAME REVIEWS :

While this appears to be a strong historically researched and presented book about Guid'Antoino Vespucci, his nephew and the Medici family, it was just short of being dry reading for a historical novel. The characterizations are plentiful but light, the streets and peoples are curiously drawn, and the details of Florence in the 1400s are pleasing, but, again, they are a bit shallow.  Thus, the whole is a juxtaposition of historical fact with a light fiction.  It seems to me it should have been more of one or the other. 

There is evidence that Ms White can be an excellent writer, of course.  Parts of the novel sing. Her inclusion of a certain important historical painter such as Sandro Botticelli is fun. But when nearly all the painters and artists of the Renaissance are mentioned or included in the story, it gets to be a bit much!  It's as if nothing can be left out of the Florentine city or moment, and it clogs up the storyline.

I thought the story in premise was a good one.  It just wasn't carried out to the best of its potential.  On occasion, contemporary jargon or monologue was also used in the book.  For example, at one point Amerigo says, "Oops," when a ball is shot back to a group of boys and hits the skirts of a monk.  This blend of blatant modern with the ancient didn't lend itself to the flow of things.

The weeping virgin component and a kidnapping mystery are interesting, but not especially captivating as they are carried out in reality.

All in all, I found the book a mixed bag.  It was a moderately good mystery, but it was couched in a dry mix of historical facts.  The mix was off-putting at times.  I thought, again, it would have been best as non-fiction or a stronger historical fiction on its own.

I'm sorry to say, it was only a 3 rating for me...which means just over "okay" in this case.

Deborah/TheBookishDame


NOTE:  You can find other opinions of this novel by visiting the entire tour as noted below! Some will include interviews and guest posts by the author.mine here: 

 Link to Tour Schedule at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/thesignoftheweepingvirginbooktour/






1 comments:

Chrissy Peebles

Interesting. Thanks for the review.

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