Nonna's Book of Mysteries
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Nonna's Book of Mysteries (Alchemy #1)

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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  42 ratings  ·  15 reviews
At age fourteen, all Emilia Serafini wants is to learn to paint so that she can become an artist. But painters' apprenticeships for young women don't exist in the Florence of Renaissance Italy. The odds appear stacked against her until she receives a fascinating book, A Manual to the Science of Alchemy. It once was her grandmother's and Emilia turns again and again to the...more
Paperback, 354 pages
Published June 3rd 2010 by Lake Street Press
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191st out of 535 books — 514 voters


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Community Reviews

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Cindy Hudson
Florence in the 1400s was a world center for painting and culture. But the guild tightly controlled who could be licensed as a master painter, and girls and women were not allowed on their list. Still, fourteen-year-old Emilia Serafini lives for her art, and she’s desperate to find a way out of the marriage her father has planned for her. So she turns for guidance to a book her mother gives her that has been handed down through generations in her family: Manual to the Science of Alchemy.

But the...more
Julie
Fourteen-year-old Emilia wants nothing but to become a painter, but during the fourteenth century in Italy, that’s near impossible. That is, impossible until Makarios, a foreign painter recognizes her talent and asks her to become his apprentice. As Makarios’s apprentice, Emilia gets more worldly exposure and maturity, and through an old family treasure, she gleans wisdom.

At first, this book seemed really interesting—it’s talking about Renaissance Italy! How could someone write a boring book i...more
Bridget
Emilia's dream of becoming a painter doesn't look promising, after all, it is only the 14th century and women did not have opportunities such as this. Emilia's parents decide to let her pursue her passion and take painting lessons. The only thing is, she has to pretend that she's a he.

She is emotionally shattered when her identity is uncovered and she can no longer take lessons. Her mother ends up giving her Nonna's Book of Mysteries and Emilia ends up learning a lot about herself and her famil...more
Lisandra
This book took me to places I never expected. Nonna's book of mystery is a wonderful story full of magic, courage, and love. this book narrates the story of a young lady named Emilia who dream with become a artist ( a painter) but there is only one problem: girls are not allow to be artist, as a profession.

Throughout the story Emilia had a lot of choices to make referring to her future as a painter, and also her love life. in her fourteenth birthday he received book of alchemy that has been from...more
Rebecca Stachniak
I highly recommend this book to anyone. It is well researched in both art history and alchemy. The plot has some wonderful plot twists and I think the main character is a good and strong role model for girls. It is important to reinforce how far women have been able to advance with even basic rights. Emilia has great skill and should be allowed to paint like any boy.
Margo Tanenbaum
Author Mary Osborne's trip to Florence inspired this engaging novel of Emilia, a young girl in 15th century Florence who dreams of becoming an artist. Very few women became artists at this time, and while her mother is supportive, her father is eager to have her understand "the way things are in the world." However, he indulges her and allows her to apprentice with a local artist, while disguised as a young boy. When her deception is revealed, she is dismissed, much to her dismay.

Emilia finds s...more
Cherise
In Renaissance Italy, 14 year old Emilia doesn't really fit the mold of the other girls her age. While her father despairs of her ever marrying, Emilia longs to paint and be recognized like the male artist of her time. Emilia dresses like a boy just to get a chance to work under and learn from one of Italy's most revered talents. But when an accident reveals Emilia's true identity, she is fired and she is once again forced to face the fact that her dreams may be unattainable.

Shortly after anoth...more
Jessica
Anyone with an affinity for reading will greatly appreciate and enjoy Mary Osborne's testimony to the strength of the human spirit and the will to succeed. Main character, Emilia Serafini, combats a malicious and cunning villain, appropriately named Villani, for her freedom to express herself and her love for God. At odds against the social conventions of the 1400s, Emilia never looses her desire for and commitment to painting.
Nonna's Book of Mysteries is a delightful story accompanied by a fe...more
Jianne
I didn't feel the "historical" significance and vibe while reading the book. I think the characters were too flat and annoying. The progress of the story is too predictable usually very irritating. There were a lot of words that were used that I have reason to believe were not used during the Renaissance. The chemistry between the so-called love team seemed to be forced, naive and cheesy (in the not so good way.) I don't know maybe pedophilia is common by days but it just seemed weird that a fou...more
Claire
Historical fiction , set in the late 15th century in Cosimo de Medici's Florence, Italy. Young Emilia is passionate abut becoming a painter. Her mother concocts a plan, Emilia disguises herself as Alsandro and apprentices to a local painter. All is good until a fellow apprentice makes a mistake that (literally) lands on Emilia's head and she is disclosed as a maiden and sent packing.
A chance encounter with another master secures a new apprenticeship while Emilia plots ways to evade a truly unpl...more
Alex
A great YA historical novel with a timeless message about figuring out who you are and going up against the odds to be yourself. Our spirited protagonist Emilia wants to be a painter in Renaissance Italy, and finds encouragement in her grandmother's book of alchemy. The role of the book is a juxtaposition I think many readers can relate to: Emilia's means of connecting with her roots, i.e. her grandmother and family history, and a kind of guiding force enabling her to be her own person. Ultimate...more
Tina
Historical Fiction, takes place in the 15th century. Emilia, 14, has one desire - to become a painter, but at this time in history...girls were not allowed to choose this type of occupation. Fortunately with a lot of luck Emilia found Makarios and he took her on as his apprentice. Emilia receives her grandmother's book, "A Manual to the Science of Alchemy" and she uses it for guidance. Then when the ancient text is stolen, she realizes that the person she is planning to marry is involved in the...more
Susan
A great historical fiction piece for young adults and the author has had an amazing journey herself, working to publish and publicize her first novel.
Suzanne
Story was just too slow getting started. Couldn't stay with it...
Julianne I.
awesome characters, wonderful writing and very captivating!
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Mary A. Osborne is the author of the Alchemy Series, including the award-winning Nonna's Book of Mysteries and the forthcoming Alchemy's Daughter. The series follows the lives of various owners of an alchemical manual which is passed from mother to daughter through the centuries. The third book of the series, The Last of the Magicians, is slated for release in 2015. An honors graduate of Rush Univ...more
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