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The Towers of Tuscany

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  2,379 ratings  ·  204 reviews
Set amid the twisting streets and sunlit piazzas of medieval Italy, the Towers of Tuscany tells the story of a woman who dares to follow her own path in the all-male domain of the painter’s workshop. Sofia Barducci is born into a world where a woman is only as good as the man who cares for her, but she still claims the right to make her own mistakes. Her first mistake is c ...more
ebook, 387 pages
Published January 29th 2014 by New Arcadia Publishing (first published January 23rd 2014)
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Karla Huebner It's true that jacket copy often gives a misleading view of book contents, which is annoying for both authors and readers. That's why I said "it…moreIt's true that jacket copy often gives a misleading view of book contents, which is annoying for both authors and readers. That's why I said "it apparently asserts" since without reading the book I don't want to judge the author. But I also think it's important for potential readers to know that female artists did exist back then, albeit probably in very small numbers.(less)
Lexx I am feeling the same way about the book right now 42% of the way through. I think I will finish it I like some aspects of the book, the flashbacks…moreI am feeling the same way about the book right now 42% of the way through. I think I will finish it I like some aspects of the book, the flashbacks are neat, but I feel ya... (less)

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3.70  · 
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 ·  2,379 ratings  ·  204 reviews

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I enjoyed the details of the artistic process and of historic San Gimignano, but this book was effectively ruined for me by a repugnant main character. Sofia is arrogant and selfish, something that I was willing to overlook in the early parts of the book when she is a young girl - but she never grows up or learns. She doesn't care who gets hurt, or who she puts in danger as long as she gets what she wants. (view spoiler) ...more
Dec 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jan-15
The Towers Of Tuscany by Carol M. Cram blends fact with fiction to give us a captivating tale set in medieval Italy.
This is the story of Sophia, whose artistic talent was passed down to her from her father, a well known and extremely talented painter. However, painting is forbidden for women and we are taken through her fight to be allowed to paint, the treatment of women during that time period and also the devastating black plague.
Very well researched the author does an outstanding job of desc
Debbie Young
Apr 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a remarkable and impressive historical novel from a debut writer who has rich facts at her fingertips and the skill to weave them unobtrusively into a compelling story.

I received a free review copy of this book on its launch, and the synopsis instantly hit a lot of hot buttons for me - a historical novel, an interesting setting (medieval Tuscany) and an intriguing theme (a female painter who must conceal her gender to be allowed to practise her art).

The author creates a compelling sense
Apr 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Towers of Tuscany is an excellent example of historical fiction at its finest. The story takes place in 14th century San Gimignano, Italy. Sofia is the heroine. Her father is a painter, but from a young age, she showed greater talent. But in medieval Italy, women were forbidden to paint. Her father takes credit for her work and sells them to the wealthiest citizens. As the story progresses, there are flashbacks into Sofia's past to the lessons she learned from her father. These words of wisd ...more
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

Carol M. Cram's The Towers of Tuscany is a tough book for me to review. It's a nice story, with strong themes and I think it offers interesting insight to the painter's trade, but it is an emotion driven drama which was something of a challenge as I am naturally drawn to conflict based narratives or complex political intrigues. I say this so that readers might understand my point of view and take my rating with a grain of sa
I’m pretty ambivalent on this book. I adored the details on the ins and outs of medieval painting in 1330’s Italy; some of the historical details I got were lovely. But that main character really needs to be go.

The author did an incredible job at world-building and got the details right for her main character’s chosen profession. From the smaller details on how painting armor was done to the massively labor intensive work that went into one simple panel, I was kept spellbound by this world of co
Italo Italophiles
The Towers of Tuscany is a fictional biography of an Italian woman born in the early years of the Italian Renaissance, or the late years of the Middle Ages, depending on your classification.

The sense of place, San Gimignano and Siena, is very strong in The Towers of Tuscany. Reading the book, I felt I was walking the streets of the medieval towns, and looking at the art that adorns them. The book is rich with historical detail, and rich with artistic detail.

Art is the driving force of The Towers
Davina Haisell
Mar 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Carol artistically sculpts imagery and atmosphere for The Towers of Tuscany with charming, well-crafted metaphors that effectively sketched me into the landscape and weaved the very essence of her characters into my being. I became so personally invested in the story I resisted putting it down. When I did put it down, her characters continued to occupy my thoughts.

The Towers of Tuscany is both entertaining and educational. Masterfully written and well researched, this work of historical fiction
Glynis Whiting
Apr 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's been two weeks since I finished Towers of Tuscany and I still can't get this entrancing novel off my mind. Carol Cram transports the reader to a living, breathing fourteenth-century San Gimignano, reaching into all of the senses. The protagonist, Sophia, is a passionate artist who risks everything to pursue her art in a world where women are forbidden to pick up a brush. This captivating story is flush with fascinating characters and it builds with exciting, unexpected twists. I couldn't pu ...more
Erin Al-Mehairi
Apr 21, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Towers of Tuscany, by Carol Cram, was a beautifully written book that really highlights the era in Tuscany just prior to the Renaissance period in Italy. It brings us gorgeous descriptions of the area, which is still very lovely today, and takes us back in time to when its natural vibrancy was an artist’s delight. The magnificent painter, Sophia, is the main character in the book, who though taught by trade to be a painter by her father, was not accepted as an artist for being a woman. Of co ...more
Nov 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was instantly swept off my feet as I vigorously turned every page of this impressive novel. I was so taken by Cram's authorship I devoured this lovely story in a few hours. Trust me, you won't be able to put The Towers of Tuscany down.

Cram certainly accomplishes the task of transporting the reader to 14th century Tuscany with her lush and detailed descriptions. You feel the cobblestones beneath your feet, you envision the rolling golden hills, the deep thick forests, the offensive smell of du
Tara Chevrestt
Joint review between Shomeret and me on Book Babe:

A tidbit:

Shomeret has read a number of books like this, but has a tremendous affection for this sort of book. She read it in April and posted her impressions first. Tara joins the conversation with her impressions.

Shomeret: The central character, Sofia, learned painting from her father and assumes that her husband will support her career as a painter. I found this assumption rather naive, but Sofia is youn
As a painter, I enjoy very much novels where art has a central part. If it’s combined with historical fiction, it makes for a delight, and that was exactly my experience with The Towers of Tuscany.
Sofia inherited her father’s genes and benefits from his teaching, as painting is concerned, but she has the misfortune of being a female, that is, not being able to have her own art studio. She first paints in hiding in a concealed room where her husband cannot see what she does. Then, after some dram
Apr 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book worth reading. Carol M Cram has created a masterpiece.

Sofia is a strong willed woman who wants to paint. Early Renaissance is the time, Italy the place. More specifically a small town called San Gimignano, the Tuscan city of towers. Sofia is painting in a time when women were encouraged to have children, clean the house and keep quiet. Very few women knew how to read and write, never mind paint.

Each chapter begins with a short painting technique explained before the story proc
Julie Ferguson
Feb 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is an indie book that is really worth reading.
Cram's first novel, The Towers of Tuscany transports readers to the pre-Renaissance period in Italy through the life of a young women who is a gifted painter. Once married Sofia can only paint in secret, and her husband disappoints and grows violent. She risks running away .... To say more will spoil the plot.
The author writes with knowledge of the era and art, but most importantly writes a cracking good story. Her pace and tension never let up
Apr 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful work!

Beautiful work!

This is a brilliant piece of literature by Ms Cram, who uses the voice of the artist to tell the "life-risking" tale of Sofia the painter who painted as Sandro, Barducci, and Manzenni.

Never could Sofia paint openly, because not only she, but others would be put in jail. In 1300's Italy, this is just the way the laws work.

The story is one of the success of the creative spirit. I would recommend this book highly!

Kenton Monjon
Apr 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating story

This novel caught my interest almost immediately and I could hardly put the novel down. The characters as well as the plot was believable and historically accurate. I was pleasantly surprised at how interesting the book was.
Apr 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read!
Feb 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A fun read! Reading about the painting techniques was absolutely fascinating, and the lives of these characters were compelling. A perfect weekend read.
A little bit of a mixed bag of a book. The descriptions of life in medieval Tuscany were absolutely excellent and I also really enjoyed the scene setting of the life of an artist in the period where so many of our now famous artists were creating. However, in characterisation and overall plotting I think this fell short and did not do real justice to the world Cram had created.

Plot in a Nutshell
Sofia Barducci is a teenager being brought up in 14th century San Gimignano by her artist father. A
R.P. Dahlke
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written fictional account of what life might have been like for a woman painter in Italy in the 1300s. I loved every bit of this book...the politics, the families scrabbling to hang onto their positions in a their city-state, and especially the process (well researched by the author) of what goes into making one of the many religious panels for wealthy patrons.
The story is bitter-sweet and doesn't pull punches even when the plague churns its way through the provinces of Italy.
Joyce Robbins
Aug 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wonderful to read, a trip back in time to Italy's 14th century as seen thru the eyes of a thoroughly modern Madonna.

Wonderful to read, a trip back in time to Italy's 14th century as seen thru the eyes of a thoroughly modern Madonna.

A book to be enjoyed. This one is mean to be slowly savored with a warm and sweet latte, and perhaps a biscotti or two. Then curl up on your favourite chair and enjoy a trip back in time, as a young wife realizes her foolish mistakes and seeks ways to continuing that
Jan 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Towers of Tuscany by Carol M. Cram is an amazing work of historical fiction, and a great adventure by a true heroine. I loved the main character, Sophia. In a time where women were supposed to grin and bear it, Sophia chose to take her own path, and run away from her unhappy marriage. The adventure that follows truly makes for a great story. The entire book is perfectly written, and I found it easy to lose myself completely in the story. Sophia’s character was relatable, and as a reader you ...more
Dec 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lila Yawn-Bonghi notes in her study from the University of North Carolina entitled, MEDIEVAL WOMEN ARTISTS AND MODERN HISTORIANS, "Surveys of women's art by Munsterberg (1975), Carr (1976), Petersen and Wilson (1976), and Slatkin (1985) discuss extant manuscripts and textiles known either to have been made by medieval women or to have been produced in the Middle Ages under the direction of female overseers and patrons." So, we know that there were female artist in Medieval Europe. However, to ha ...more
Feb 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: renaissance
While I found the last few pages a jarring departure from the overall tone of the book, it was a wonderful read. The best parts for me were the internal dialogues Sofia has with her father, the descriptions of the workshop, and the many skilled and lost arts that were medieval painting. My interest began to wane about halfway through when it became dangerously close to turning into a romance novel, but the author brought it back from the brink. I love that the author introduced me to Cennini, qu ...more
May 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Towers of Tuscany is a beautifully written story! The story follows the life of Sofia during the 1300’s in San Gimignano, Italy. She is a gifted painter, however, due to her circumstance she only paints in private and her father sells her work as his own. The book comes full circle and Sophia realizes the realities of the harshness of life through her choices. This historical novel transports the reader back in time with vivid descriptions of both the paintings and the setting. I was entranc ...more
Diana Teneva
Романът на Каръл Крам още от първите страници ни отвежда в Средновековна Италия, в ателието на Антонио Бардучи, един от учениците на Джото. Всъщност, книгата е по-скоро за дъщерята на Бардучи и за нейната тайна страст да рисува. Тайна е, защото по онова време на жените не е било разрешено да извършват дейности, присъщи само за мъжете. София не престава за мисли за своето увлечение към рисуването въпреки превратностите на съдбата и трудностите, които тя среща по своя път отначало като необичана с ...more
richard m.
Aug 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a very enjoyable novel - partly due to the fact that I have visited the locations where the story occurs.
It appears to be a first novel for the author; and as such is an exceptional effort. Flow of the narrative, and development of the characters was very well presented with few minor exceptions.
It is notable that the ebook version has almost no errors - it is surprising how may digital books have errors throughout; don't writers use electronic word processors these days?
The historical
Mar 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hfvbt
I really like "The Towers of Tuscany" by Carol M Cram. I loved Sofia and my heart ached for her! There were so many tough moments when I had to stop reading and take a deep breath! I loved the creativity that Sofia exemplified and also the creativity that the author used throughout the story. There are times when you can figure out where a story is leading but that is not the case with this book, I was continuously surprised by the change of circumstances and events. This was a very unique, deep ...more
Madeleine Myers
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of woman as artist in fourteenth century Italy

Well researched, beautifully written, this novel draws the reader into the world of medieval Italy with all its consequent conflicts in religion, art, and feminism. A woman's role, strictly circumscribed by all three, must have been especially difficult for a young woman of intellect and talent brought up by a father who encouraged and used her skill until she makes an unfortunate marriage. The story is well crafted, but I had some difficulty reconci
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Carol M. Cram is the author of three award-winning historical novels about women in the arts. "The Towers of Tuscany" was published by Lake Union Publishing in 2014. The novel was awarded the Chaucer Award (Chanticleer Reviews) for best historical fiction and Editor's Choice by the Historical Novel Review. "The Towers of Tuscany" tells the story of a woman painter in fourteenth century Italy. "A W ...more
“Gimignano and admired the skyline of towers. “It is a noble sight, mia bella. One day you must paint it.” 0 likes
“People who hate often do very foolish things.” 0 likes
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