Sunday, June 5, 2011

Review: A Golden Web by Barbara Quick

Title: A Golden Web
Author: Barbara Quick | Author Website
Available: Now
Genre: Historical
Reading Level: Young Adult

Description from Goodreads:

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.

My thoughts:

A Golden Web speculates how the life of female anatomistAlessandra Giliani, might have progressed. She was a brilliant young girl fascinated by medicine and how the human body worked. Unfortunately, she lived during a time period when it was not acceptable for women to be intrigued by such things. Her interests risked her being burned as a witch if discovered. 

This fictional biography begins when Alessandra is just an infant, and ends when she is a grown woman. I really enjoyed reading about this new (to me) and fascinating character. According to the author’s notes at the end there isn’t much information about Alessandra’s life or family, but I think she did a wonderful job of piecing together what her life may have been like.    

The first part of the novel, that took place while Alessandra lived at home with her family, was well paced and nicely detailed. The author took time to explore the sibling dynamic, and show the love Alessandra felt for her family. I loved this and found all of the characters absolutely endearing. Once Alessandra arrives in Bologna to study medicine things seemed to become a bit more rushed. I would have loved to see more time dedicated to her life in Bologna. I also would have liked to see more of a focus on the relationships she formed while there. It all seemed to happen so fast. Also according to the synopsis she “will find a love she could not foresee”. This had me expecting the romantic element to play a larger role in the plot than it actually did. Unfortunately, the relationship between Alessandra and her love interest lacked the development I’d hoped for. 

Even with a few minor complaints I still found this book very enjoyable, and it was a very quick read that had no problem holding my interest. I just would have liked to see the author explore Alessandra’s life in Bologna more. I’d recommend A Golden Web to both adults and older teens who enjoy books based on the lives of real historical figures.

My Rating:


  1. I love historical's based off real people. What a beautiful cover! I'll definitely have to check this one out. Thank you for the recommendation!