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The Compulsive Reader: A Golden Web by Barbara Quick

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Golden Web by Barbara Quick

Young Alessandra enjoys her life, restricted though it may be in her 14th century Italian home. Her father employs some of the best artists that produce the most beautiful books in the land, and she is surrounded by a wealth of knowledge to sate her strong desire for learning. But Alessandra's stepmother does not approve of her liberal ways and her education, and would have her married off as soon as possible. Alessandra will be confined to a loveless, arranged marriage unless she is willing to risk not only her own well being, but her family's reputation, and pursue the education that she dreams of.

A Golden Web is a quick, but very thoroughly researched book about the short and adventurous life of Alessandra Giliani, the world's first female anatomist. The book begins when she is still quite young and chronicles her curious and inquisitive nature growing up, her sorrows over the loss of her beloved mother, and the triumphs she finds in learning and outsmarting her stepmother. It moves rapidly through the years as she is engaged, and then follows her risky and bold venture to Bologna prior to her marriage to pursue an education as an anatomist, disguised as a boy. The story glosses over the finer aspects of life for Alessandra and the many details that made her disguise a success, and Quick instead chooses to focus on her renown as a scholar and her discoveries along the way. She throws in a bit of romance as well, which will please and amuse readers and adds a small bit of drama to the story. Overall though, A Golden Web is a very nonspecific and quick story, and the characters feel quite detached from the reader throughout. This is an excellent book if you are looking for an account of Giliani's life and wish to be entertained, but the plot is under-developed.

Cover Comments: I like this cover a lot. It's quite pretty, and the young woman's expression captures the inner turmoil Alessandra must have faced quite well. Very nice.

A Golden Web is now available from HarperTeen.

ARC received from publisher.

1 comment:

Lana said...

Like you, I enjoyed learning about Alessandra's life, but I felt oddly detached from the characters. I think part of it was that I went in expecting historical novel and got something with a glossier, fairy-tale feel.

I very much enjoyed your review, and I have linked to you here.