The man who accompanied me to Florence, Italy in 2001 was forgettable, but the magic of Tuscany will stay with me forever. It was during this trip that I gathered information and experiences for my first book, Nonna’s Book of Mysteries, as well as my new book, Alchemy’s Daughter. In Florence, the abundance of Renaissance art inspired Nonna’s, the story of a young woman who wants to be a painter. During my trip I visited the Uffizi Museum, which houses paintings by masters such as Michelangelo and Botticelli. I was walking outside the Uffizi when a chance—or perhaps fated—upward glance led me to discover the seeds for another book. This book, Alchemy’s Daughter, is about a young woman who apprentices to the village midwife, a suspected witch, in medieval San Gimignano, Italy.
As I departed from the Uffizi back in 2001, I walked along a colonnade that houses statues of famous Florentines. Politicians, religious figures, and men of art and science gazed down at me as I made my way along the cobbled path. One particular statue caught my eye, and I stopped to read the inscription: Giovanni Boccaccio it read. He is less well known in the U.S. than in Italy. After consulting my guidebook, I discovered Boccaccio was the famed medieval author of the Decameron—one hundred stories of love during the summer of 1348, the year of the terrible plague. Boccaccio’s home, I read, was in nearby Certaldo, and it was now a museum. I knew at once that I had to visit this place.
The next day my bemused companion and I took a short train ride through fields of bright orange poppies to the ancient walled village of Certaldo. Making my way along the red brick streets, I soon found Boccaccio’s home. It now houses a library containing Boccaccio’s works, objects and furniture typical of the time period, and also a painting portraying Boccaccio at his desk. Lost in reverie, I stared at the painting. I felt as though I had just met my muse.
Back home in Chicago, I lost myself in the Decameron, which offers a full sense of life and love in 14th century Italy. Then I set to work on my own medieval tale. I wrote on and off for a period of thirteen years (in between which I changed boyfriends, wrote another book, and worked as a nurse). Finally, in May 2015, Alchemy’s Daughter made it out into the world and bookstores near you. I hope you will read and enjoy the tale of Santina Pietra of San Gimignano.
Series: Alchemy #2
Author: Mary A. Osborne
Publication Date: May 15/15 by Lake Street Press
Genre: historical YA
Back Cover Blurb:
Soon Santina meets Trotula, the village midwife, who might or might not be a strega, or witch. Trotula challenges her to forget Calandrino and become the woman she is meant to be. Some say she is a victim of the midwife’s spell, but Santina is determined to follow in Trotula’s footsteps even as calamities strike.
The setting is 14th century Italy, yet in Santina contemporary readers will discover a strong-minded young woman whose search for meaning echoes their own. Alchemy’s Daughter is the author’s second novel.
Osborne has created YA appropriate characters that will appear to readers of all ages. The angst of the main character really shone through. Her need to prove herself while at the same time being what she was supposed to be was a complex counterpoint within the main character herself. I enjoyed seeing the mix of character types that we encountered throughout.
This well written novel kept me on my toes from the first page to the last. Osborne has created a novel that not only takes you back in time, but will also stand the test of time.
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