cover image The Scribe of Siena

The Scribe of Siena

Melodie Winawer. S&S/Touchstone, $26.99 (464p) ISBN 978-1-5011-5225-2

Winawer’s debut is a detailed historical novel, a multifaceted mystery, and a moving tale of improbable love. When Beatrice Trovato’s brother suddenly passes away in Italy, she leaves her New York home and demanding work as a neurosurgeon to sort out his affairs and retrieve his research on the Black Death in Siena. What she doesn’t expect is to be pulled into his studies, as she compulsively attempts to complete what he started. Stumbling across fresco painter Gabriele Accorsi, who mysteriously seems to have painted her into his work, she finds herself physically transported across time into the 14th century, just before the plague strike. The vivid descriptions of the people, way of life, food, and other details of medieval Italy deepen the plot, making the book a truly immersive experience. The novel dramatically brings to life a period in Siena’s history that is still overwhelmingly neglected by historians—it is still unclear why Siena was ravaged by the plague in ways unseen in other Italian cities. Winawer has created a prodigious, vibrant tale of past and present that transports readers and fills in the historical gaps. This is a marvelous work of research and invention.[em] (May) [/em]