Monday, May 31, 2010

Book Review: A Golden Web by Barbara Quick

A Golden Web by Barbara Quick
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: April 2010
ISBN: 9780061448874
Source: ARC from Traveling ARC Tours

A Golden Web
Alessandra is not like other women.  Growing up with her doting father and despicable stepmother, she hasn't had as much freedom as she'd like.  All that is taken from her when they arrange a marriage for her to an unknown man, thus depriving her of the slim chance she had of studying medicine at Bologna University.  It is unheard of for a woman to study medicine, but with her life mapped out for her, she may as well give it up.  But, she simply can't and finds herself going to great lengths to make this dream come true.

Things I Liked:
Lovely story with a main character filled with plenty of spunk.  I liked the writing as well, filled with little beautiful parts and lovely descriptions.  Alessandra and Nicco were my absolute favorites.  It is always nice to read about strong women from the middle ages and how they overcame difficulties.  I like the journey and the hard work that Alessandra does to get where she wants to be.  Especially, I love her love of the natural world and how her mind wanted to explore and know more about how things work, especially the human body. 

"Her heart beat a little faster, thinking about how there might well be as many wonders beneath the surface of things as there are above, if one could but figure out how to see them." p 31
"Woman was created last of all, after all the animals and after Adam himself.  Why would God have done it thus if He intended woman as a lesser creature?  Would he not then have made her just after the animals and before Adam?" p155
Things I Didn't Like:
The story itself is pretty predictable and neat.  You can see what happens coming a mile away, and there is no great effort on the part of the main characters to get there.  It seemed with all the build-up of a woman doing what she shouldn't, there should have been a bit more fall-out.  There didn't seem to be quite enough historical detail to draw me into the setting either.  I loved the natural world descriptions, but I didn't get a great feel for the time period from that.

Alchemy and Meggy Swann by Karen Cushman

The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman
Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman

s-factor: !
very few

mrg-factor: X
it has a very sensual feel, but not much is blatantly described

v-factor: ->
it's got some blood and gore from a medical view

Overall rating: ***

What's your favorite thing about historical fiction?

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  1. I agree - this one didn't have a lot of struggle to it and there was at least one BIG coincidence. I still liked it, though.

  2. Susan, it was enjoyable, but yes that coincidence was a bit much for me. Still, I'm fond of the happy ending (sort of) that it brought about.

  3. Another readalike--and an excellent read--is Gillian Bradshaw's "The Beacon at Alexandria", about a young woman who wants to study medicine mroe than anything, disguises herself (plausibly, but no spoilers) to do so and ends getting caught in the conflict between Arian and Nicene Christians in 4th century AD Alexandria and events around the fall of the Roman Empire.

  4. Andie, I've never even heard of this one! I'll have to put it on The List. Thanks again!


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