Who says that all Italian women of the 1400’s accepted their fate without question? Why should they accept that the sciences were privy only to men? One woman, Alessandra Gilliani of Persiceto dared to differ and follow her dream. No one could suppress this young girl's quest for knowledge.
A Golden Web, by Barbara Quick, is a story of hope and inspiration to women of all times. Alessandra, still in her teens dreamt to learn grander things. She wanted to study medicine in the great University of Bologna (the oldest University in Europe).
Alessandra was the second of three children living with her loving father and wicked stepmother. Albeit her knowledge of reading and writing- which she had astutely learned through her father (whose business was the production and selling of manuscripts and illuminated books- a lucrative venue of the times), Alessandra was denied the right to even consider pursuing her studies. Her stepmother had other plans for her, which included the convent and a marriage of convenience.
Alessandra never gave up on her dream. She went along with a betrothal (without ever seeing her bridegroom) and also agreed to the convent life...for awhile. Having learned how to ride and fend for herself with the help of her brother, Nicco, Alessandra had a plan of her own: to escape and finally study at the University.
This would include a phenomenal change in her lifestyle...But nothing could stop her. Alessandra would conquer her dream and quench her thirst for knowledge. She secretly prayed to the Virgin- whose face was painted to the resemblance of her late mother...a special icon given to her by her father for her time of need. Later, this icon would prove to be both a life saver, as well as her demise.
And what of her betrothed? ...A delicious surprise but not without a twist of tragedy...
Alessandra Gilliani would become the first anatomist woman in history- but at a very dear cost.
I loved this story as I thrive reading about women achieving their utmost. Alessandra surprised me to no end. I cheered for her as she made her way up the ladder reserved only for men. But ultimately, Alessandra’s tragic life brought me to tears as I revered and mourned this true heroine.
This book took me completely by surprise; where I thought I’d be reading about a time in the 1400’s- I got more than I bargained for. A Golden Web introduced me to a young woman that marked history significantly...an unsung hero that contributed life, joy and science to the world by breaking barriers with her courage and youthful loving spirit.
A Golden Web is a quick, entertaining while informative historical read filled with love, courage and passion. This is a story I will certainly cherish. Thank you, Barbara Quick for writing this outstanding novel. After reading this, I look forward to reading all of this author’s books! I loved it.
Note: At the end of the book, the author also includes a most interesting insight on her research (that is still ongoing!)- I was fascinated to learn about the real historical figures and the mystery behind Alessandra Gilliani-what a delightful bonus to an already fabulous read.
Harper Collins is graciously giving away a copy of this superb novel to 1 Lucky US Winner. Thank you!
TO ENTER (FOLLOWERS ONLY):
1 Chance: Leave a comment with your email
1 Extra Chance every time you tweet, Facebook or post about this.
5 Extra Chances for posting this on your Sidebar.
Good Luck! Winner Announced om Sunday, April 25th
I am entering this in Royal Reviews Historical Reading Challenge, Women Unbound, and The 4 Month Challenge