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The Sign of the Weeping Virgin (Five Star Mystery #1)

3.52  ·  Rating Details ·  110 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Romance and intrigue abound in The Sign of the Weeping Virgin‚ an evocative historical mystery that brings the Italian Renaissance gloriously to life.

In 1480 Florentine investigator Guid’Antonio Vespucci and his nephew‚ Amerigo‚ are tangled in events that threaten to destroy them and their beloved city.

Marauding Turks abduct a beautiful young Florentine girl and sell her i
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published December 19th 2012 by Five Star (first published December 2012)
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A Room with a View by E.M. ForsterThe King's Agent by Donna Russo MorinThe Birth of Venus by Sarah DunantThe House of Medici by Christopher HibbertThe Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone
Books Set in Florence
18th out of 78 books — 50 voters
Shadow on the Crown by Patricia BracewellOutlander by Diana GabaldonThe King's Agent by Donna Russo MorinHer Highness, the Traitor by Susan HigginbothamVenus in Winter by Gillian Bagwell
Historical Novel Society 2013
32nd out of 44 books — 79 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Mike Coleman
Jan 29, 2013 Mike Coleman rated it it was amazing
Critics are praising Alana White's elegant prose and her skill in weaving a vast amount of historical detail into the plot of this fascinating mystery novel set in Renaissance Florence. I heartily concur, but also must note the considerable wit at work in the book--one of the many qualities that make it such an enjoyable reading experience.

It comes through in dialogue: "God, I've died and gone to heaven," her protagonist Guid'Antonio Vespucci says over a meal of roast pork and fried ravioli. "No
Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews)
Read This Review & More Like It On My Blog!

I've always wanted to go to Europe - Italy, and France in particular, which is a big part of why historical fiction is such a favorite of mine. I'm a a major, unrepentant history nerd, and getting to read and see these fascinating locales in new ways through new books, especially ones so vividly drawn like Florence here with The Sign of the Weeping Virgin, is always a highlight of reading for me. Alana White's novel of Renaissance Florence is a stro
Bebe (Sarah) Brechner
May 03, 2013 Bebe (Sarah) Brechner rated it it was amazing
This is a work of graceful prose that transports you back to Renaissance Italy, with political intrigue and characters that are fully realized and completely fascinating. All the political intrigue is here, with references to known situations, issues, people, and localities. I'm sure those who are familiar with the streets of Florence and environs can trace all the activity of the story, as the environment is superbly described.
For aficionados of the Italian Renaissance, this is an enjoyable an
Jessica Brockmole
Mar 18, 2013 Jessica Brockmole rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
A young woman goes missing. On the other side of Florence, a painting mysteriously begins weeping. Investigator Guid’Antonio Vespucci, friend of Lorenzo di Medici and newly returned from a diplomatic mission in France, is determined to get to the bottom of both mysteries. Is the weeping Virgin in the painting a sign of God's displeasure, as the congregation believes, or is it a product of human machinations? Alana White brings to life 15th century Florence with well-placed details and sharp dial ...more
Audra (Unabridged Chick)
In classic 'it's-me-not-you', I just didn't quite get into this book. It's chock full of historical intrigue, some solid personalities, great sense of place, and a twisty plot that takes in politics, art, loyalty, and the Ottoman Turks -- but it and I didn't click for some reason.

Set in 1480, the story follows Guid'Antonio Vespucci and his nephew, Amerigo Vespucci (yeah, that one), as they return to Florence from a two year ambassadorship to France. Things in Florence are, to put it bluntly, not
Feb 10, 2013 Lynette rated it it was amazing
In her impressive historical novel, The Sign of the Weeping Virgin, Alana White reprises Florence in the 15th Century through her protagonist, Guid’ Antonio Vespucci. As the novel opens, Guid Antonio, accompanied by his nephew Amerigo, has returned to Florence after a diplomatic assignment in France.
A respected lawyer and trusted friend of Florence’s most prominent citizen, Lorenz di Medici, Guid’ Antonio finds some disturbing changes in the city he loves. The city’s depleted treasury has cre
If I pronounce the word Medici, I bet you will first think about Catherine de’ Medici (1547–1559), a Regent Queen of France. By then, the Medici dynasty was actually already a century old and powerful.

The Sign of the Weeping Virgin centers around Lorenzo de’ Medici, also known as Lorenzo the Magnificent (1449 – 1492). Living at the time of the Italian Renaissance, he is well known for supporting the arts.

The hero is Guid’Antonio Vespucci (see Alana White’s page, in the right column), Lorenzo’s f
Gary Inbinder
4.5 - 5 stars

An intriguing mystery set in late 15 c. Florence, filled with Machiavellian plots, engaging characters, and plenty of well-researched detail about the milieu of that time and place. Highly recommended, especially for readers interested in all aspects of everyday life and culture in Renaissance Italy.
Kathy Davie
Feb 20, 2013 Kathy Davie rated it liked it
Shelves: mystery, history
An historical mystery set in 1480 Florence with an adherent of Lorenzo the Magnificent, Guid'Antonio, investigating again.

Yup, just learned it is a series---the Five Star Mystery. I have no idea why she's calling it the "Five Star" as White has a long way to go to achieve that rating.

For some reason I'm feeling generous in giving White a "3"---must be all the good research and few mechanical errors. It certainly isn't the copious loose threads and wandering storyline.

My Take
Kudos to White for th
Bry Jensen
Nov 21, 2014 Bry Jensen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Sometimes, when you love a book, you just can't get through it fast enough. You devour its entirety swiftly, and in the blink of an eye, it is complete. Other times when you love a book, you truly need to just savor it slowly, relishing the sensationas if to prolong the experience.The Sign of the Weeping Virginwas certainly in the latter category for me; I enjoyed every aspect of this book so much that I took a very long time to complete it.

This book came into my hands when I was contacted by th
Aug 06, 2016 Darlene rated it really liked it
The Sign of the Weeping Virgin by Alana White is a historical mystery that takes place during the Renaissance era which is one of my favorite time periods so this novel really appealed to me. More intriguing is the mystery of the missing beautiful girl and the painting of the Virgin Mary crying miraculous tears. This novel is rich in historical detail and is beautifully written in such a way that it brings the streets of Florence alive to it’s readers.

The novel opens with Guid’ Antonio returning
This is this Authors debut novel in the realm of historical fiction and, as much as I enjoy good historical fiction, I just couldn’t get into this one at all. I think it was a case of the classic line ‘it’s me, honestly, not you’.

To say the cast of characters in this book is immense would be an under-statement, and I felt at times it would have helped me along in my reading if there had been a character list printed in the front of the book; I have a sneaky feeling that many other readers who pi
Erin Al-Mehairi
Feb 18, 2013 Erin Al-Mehairi rated it liked it
The Sign of the Weeping Virgin, by Alana White, is a new novel that brings to life Italian history, specifically in Florence, much of which I had no prior knowledge. Italian history not being one I’m quite as well read or educated on, this book’s through research and information circled with a fictional mystery was very enlightening and descriptive.

Most people who enjoy history have heard of Amerigo Vespucci. His uncle was Guid Antonio Vespucci, a lawyer in Florence during the early 1400s, a tim
Feb 27, 2013 Lucy rated it really liked it

If you love Italian history mixed with mystery, then The Sign of The Weeping Virgin is perfect! Author Alana White uses real historical figures in this splendid novel, setting the right mood for a story that feels incredibly real. Set in 15th c. Florence at a time when the city was in danger of Turkish invasion, political enemies, the Church, Guido’Antonio Vespucci and his nephew Amerigo are entangled in discovering the mystery behind a weeping Virgin and the disappearance of a pious woman.

Meg - A Bookish Affair
3.5 stars. Take a mysterious painting in a church that seems to cry and a mysterious disappearance of a woman who has a lot of pull between the families of Florence and you have this book. Filled with great detail and a historical mystery that was interesting to see come together, "The Sign of the Weeping Virgin" will appeal to historical mystery lovers of all stripes.

Admittedly, this book did take me a little bit of time to get into. There is a lot of detail and a lot of characters in the book
Jan 04, 2014 Sharon rated it really liked it
The story is set in Florence, Italy during the Renaissance. Although listed as Mystery #1 in a series, I would categorize it as historical fiction or historical mystery. The novel documents the struggle by the Medici family to maintain control of Florence, helped by his good friend Guid'Antonio Vespucci, who is brought in after the murder of Medici's brother. There is the disappearance of a beautiful girl (sold into slavery? murdered? run off with a lover?) that starts Guid'Antonio searching for ...more
Sep 26, 2013 Kristina rated it it was amazing
This is the first book I've read that is both history and mystery set during the Italian Renaissance, and I truly enjoyed it. Like many books, it got off to a bit of a slow start, but I don't hold that against an author--not anymore. There is so much to learn about the people, the politics, and the period that a new reader must get up to speed before they can make sense of what's going on and why. Alana White did an excellent job imagining the setting and creating vivid, real characters. Her pac ...more
Nancy Seaman
Feb 10, 2013 Nancy Seaman rated it did not like it
I really wanted to like this. I like historical mysteries. This one is set in 1480 in Florence. But instead of catching the reader's attention, the author began with the history of the time. Yes, it was critical to the story, but should have come out in the story. It was full of details of the period, but more as if the author wanted to prove she knew what she was writing about. She thanked the Nashville Public Library and a Nashville writers group. They should have helped more. She needed an ed ...more
Fionna Guillaume
Feb 15, 2016 Fionna Guillaume rated it liked it
Though it's billed as a historical mystery, I place this one squarely in the classic historical fiction category. The most mysterious mystery is never truly solved, though many truth and discoveries are revealed along the way. However, fans of history - and especially the Italian Renaissance - will appreciate the flowery detail, vivid descriptions, and wide cast of characters (both familiar and new) who bring 1480 Florence to life.
Dec 31, 2014 Laura rated it liked it
Still very unsure how I feel about this trend towards well-known historical figures solving mysteries. In this case, Gian'Antonio Vespucci is less well-known than his nephew, Amerigo but still... This was also pretty light on the mystery part as well and one (the weeping virgin of the title) not really solved by the end.

Still, for those who really love the Renaissance this is a good look into that era with plenty of historical background and atmosphere.
Jul 06, 2013 Dee rated it liked it
Guid'Antonio Vespucci witnesses the murder of his dear friend, brother of Lorenzo de Medici (Il Magnifico). After 2 years of "exile" as the Florentine ambassador to France, Vespucci returns to a Florence much changed - turned against the de Medicis and him. He must solve the disappearance of a young bride in order to save his country from chaos at the hands of the pope.
Laura Emery
Dec 10, 2015 Laura Emery rated it really liked it
This is my favorite period of time to read about and I enjoyed the detail with which the author brings this period of time to life. And while I am more of a fan of the art and philosophical movement of this period, the information about the politics was interesting as well. I was a bit disappointed in the ending, but then, that's why we read novels--in order to hear someone else tell a story.
Carol Flatten
Jul 11, 2013 Carol Flatten rated it really liked it
Just by chance, I read this book just after Blood and Beauty. The time period of this novel was about 20 years before Blood and Beauty. The story was of the corruption of the church, the significance of powerful families and of the emergence of the great Italian artists. It was really fascinating and I learned a great deal about the period.
Patricia Ann
Feb 23, 2013 Patricia Ann rated it really liked it
After watching the tv series The Borgias, I found myself submerged into this book for now I was learning about the other side of the tv series Florence and the Medici family with a little of extras plots like the kidnapping of the girl and the Virgin's tears.
Joan Toplicar
Apr 25, 2013 Joan Toplicar rated it really liked it
An enjoyable read once you adjust to the names and places. A light mystery--another reviewer mentions the style and the humor--and.readers familiar with the historical figures and places will enjoy the detaiis.
Sep 14, 2013 Linda rated it it was amazing
A beautifully crafted novel, a brilliant story, plenty of machinations, Florence, and Lorenzo de' Medici and Botticelli to name a few make this a novel not to be forgotten. I do hope there will be more Guid'Antonio Vespucci books.
Aug 14, 2013 Lisa rated it liked it
This was an okay read. Felt more like a private eye with sidekick cliche plopped into Renaissance Florence.
May 18, 2013 Linda rated it it was amazing
after somewhat of a dry spell with stories - i'm giving this one 5 *s. It is rich in history, but light hearted enough to be a very pleasant, exciting read.
Jul 05, 2013 Kathy rated it liked it
Pretty good story about Italian Renaissance; got a bit confusing with trying to keep names straight but worth it.
Nov 12, 2012 Susan rated it it was amazing
See my review at Reading World.
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International GIVEAWAY and Author INTERVIEW! 1 3 Feb 13, 2013 10:59AM  
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Alana White is the author of fiction and nonfiction for adults and young readers. Her most recent publications are the adult historical mystery novel, The Sign of the Weeping Virgin, set at the height of the Italian Renaissance in Florence, Italy, and Come Next Spring, a coming of age novel set in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee in the 1940s. She is also the author of a biography of Sacagawea, Sa ...more
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