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The Scribe of Siena

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Accomplished neurosurgeon Beatrice Trovato knows that her deep empathy for her patients is starting to impede her work. So when her beloved brother passes away, she welcomes the unexpected trip to the Tuscan city of Siena to resolve his estate, even as she wrestles with grief. But as she delves deeper into her brother’s affairs, she discovers intrigue she never imagined—a 700-year-old conspiracy to decimate the city.

As Beatrice explores the evidence further, she uncovers the journal and paintings of the fourteenth-century artist Gabriele Accorsi. But when she finds a startling image of her own face, she is suddenly transported to the year 1347. She awakens in a Siena unfamiliar to her, one that will soon be hit by the Plague.

Yet when Beatrice meets Accorsi, something unexpected happens: she falls in love—not only with Gabriele, but also with the beauty and cadence of medieval life. As the Plague and the ruthless hands behind its trajectory threaten not only her survival but also Siena’s very existence, Beatrice must decide in which century she belongs.

The Scribe of Siena is the captivating story of a brilliant woman’s passionate affair with a time and a place that captures her in an impossibly romantic and dangerous trap—testing the strength of fate and the bonds of love.

464 pages, Hardcover

First published May 16, 2017

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Melodie Winawer

3 books228 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 829 reviews
Profile Image for Frances.
192 reviews319 followers
July 20, 2017
Beatrice Trovato is a top notch neurosurgeon residing in New York. Recently during operations she would start to feel a hum inside her head and instinctively know if the patient was in distress even before the monitors did. Perhaps it was time to visit her brother Ben in Italy who had been asking her on numerous occasions to come for a visit. However, sometimes bad luck or fate arrives. After she booked her flight to Siena news arrived her brother had died of heart failure leaving his much loved home to her and all his recent transcripts he had been working on. Ben, a medieval historian had moved to Siena, Italy and was trying to uncover the mystery of why Siena did so badly over other towns during the Black Death in 1348. Once Beatrice arrived at her now newly acquired home she was keen to discover what had inspired Ben to write so much material on the plague. After settling in and having requested a three month sabbatical from the hospital, Beatrice walked the many streets of Siena, visited museums, and searched libraries for information on what Ben had discovered. After a few weeks she decided to visit a cathedral in the medieval part of the town and was awestruck by a mysterious ancient painting, until the humming once again began in her head. This is the beginning of an extraordinary, magical, and yet haunting book. Author Melodie Winawer has captured scenes vividly bringing to life countless, memorable characters. Without question, The Scribe of Siena, is a skillfully crafted novel which readers will struggle to put down. I loved it!! Highly recommended!

** Thank you to Publisher Touchstone and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review. **
Profile Image for Angela M .
1,276 reviews2,213 followers
May 28, 2017
I went with Beatrice Trovato when she traveled back in time to 14th century Siena in this novel that held my interest from beginning to end. To enjoy time travel stories, a reader has to be accepting of a premise that a character is transported by some means to another time in history and sometimes the future. It's something I accept every time I read historical fiction whether it involves time travel or not . I feel as if I time travel whenever a book transports me to the past . In the case of a time travel story, the author takes both the character and the reader . For me it's not how she got there but it's about what happens there. What happens in Siena in 1347 is an intriguing story of that time and place as well as a love story.

Beatrice, a grieving neurosurgeon living in present day New York City travels to Siena to settle the estate of her brother and finds herself immersed in his research. She's more than immersed as she finds herself in the past trying to piece together what her brother was trying to accomplish in telling what happened to Siena as the plague came to this city. There's never any realistic explanation of how she gets there but I loved that it was while she was reading the the journal of artist Gabriel Accorsi. " One minute I was reading then the next I'd gone straight into a night 650 years earlier than the day I started in." That's exactly how I got there.

Art, a Medici son seeking revenge, the plague, a sinister plan to bring Siena under the control of Florence, a mystery and a crime , love - this is what Beatrice and I found there. If you need a rational explanation, then this may not be for you. But if you can accept the novel for what it is - a work of historical fiction , you might thoroughly enjoy this intriguing journey as I did.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Simon & Schuster through Edelweiss.
Profile Image for Crystal King.
Author 5 books418 followers
April 17, 2017
I loved this time-travel, medieval Italian tale with its trifecta of love, science and art, combining together for some fantastic historical fiction. Winawer has done her homework and she brings the time of 1347 to the reader in fascinating and accessible way. I loved the mystery that brought present and past together in the centuries old rivalry between Siena and Florence. There is a little magic, and a lot of intrigue, danger and passion, and I found myself loathe to put this book down as the hours dwindled late into the night. I've seen other descriptions of the novel in how it will "sweep you away" and it is true. Scribe of Siena is a wonderful, must-read novel.
Profile Image for Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede.
1,939 reviews776 followers
April 17, 2017
DNF 51%!

I so wanted to like this book since time travel books are a favorite genre of mine. But, the more I read the more I started to get annoyed with the book and at this point, I can't see how it could get any better.

Some thoughts I had about the book:

* I can't see how a modern woman can adjust to Italy in the 14th-century so well. Just understanding the language or being understood should be hard.
* Did she magically transport back in time? No clue since no explanation is given, perhaps it will come at the end of the book, but I'm not really that eager to find out.
* The painter is living in the house Beatrice lived in the future. And, they seem to be fated to be together. Too bad that their romance is lacking all the chemistry needed for it to work. And, that the whole fated thing is bothering me.
* The Medici murder thing and pestilence plot felt unnecessary and boring and the "villain" is so inept that it's laughable. Is she sent back in time to stop this or what? I don't care.
* The author absolute done a great job with the research, but the story is wordy and slow and I failed to connect with the characters. Honestly, as I wrote this little "review" did I have to think for a couple of seconds to remember Beatrice name. Oh, and Beatrice is apparently psychic also. Can feel others feelings and see things.

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review.
Profile Image for Jeanette.
3,215 reviews551 followers
August 4, 2017
I did finish it. The last 70 pages were a struggle. It's more and more of the same.

This premise is nearly exactly like The Outlander although within different time periods. Here it is the present New York City and mid-14th century Siena, Italy. In the year before and within the Black Death / Plague.

Also, like Outlander, she is the time traveler and she is in medicine. A neurosurgeon of self-depreciating kindness and selfless 14 to 16 hour a day work applications. And there are all kinds of details of fact that don't mesh in the present and you would guess that those sections would be the "easier" part to describe "straight". Like taking archivist material out of their storage and particular environments which maintained the paper- and sticking them in cloth or leather bags for taking them out into the world like they were last Sunday's puzzle section of the local newspaper. You NEVER get anything that old of archivist value released as depicted here. And she did it twice, I think.

Honestly, up until the middle it was nearly a 3. But to take one of my most favorite time periods and make it tempera painted washed out!! Way too much of the romantic musings and way too little of historical edge. Here we have assassins and cabals and they are stated to actions as if it all were FLAT as the Earth. And for me, the who-dun-it part was transparent, uninteresting and obvious.

Well, it was not historical fiction in the sense of any reality for Italy either. There were things that didn't jive, like odors/ reactions to sanitary habits- and the methods that get "it" (both plot and protagonist) back and worth between NYC and Tuscany of this period. Plus she makes a several page declaration in a letter near the ending saying her work in history survey was more important than her neurosurgery?? So everyone just lets her absence/ disappearance go! Come on! That and the "inside feeling their thoughts" was for these immense amount of pages, severely underdeveloped. How, why, when - so many aspects of that clairvoyance or soul transport. Never answered, surmised, evaluated by our dear Doctor of Neurosurgery??? To my mind for shelving this has nearly no quality to label it for the Historical Fiction category. Romance without bodice ripper quality? Action or think piece? Too many directions tried and none touched to reach- an obvious first effort.

This may be approached with better enjoyment if one has much less knowledge of the place of religion, the life styles and short lived practicalities of the actual 1349 Sienna or any truthful realization for the work and years and practice of a neurosurgeon than I. Or by those who like Romance novels with lots of attraction, few details, and all kinds of "feeling" words and almost NO heat. Quite mountains less than in Outlander, for instance.
Profile Image for etherealfire.
1,209 reviews207 followers
April 14, 2017
I received this Advanced Reader's copy for a fair review and I'm delighted that this story did not disappoint. An engaging protagonist and a compelling time traveling story line kept me invested through the last page. Great storytelling in my favorite genre makes this a big win!
Profile Image for Cynthia.
Author 4 books695 followers
February 16, 2017
A solid and entertaining debut, with a likable, resourceful main character, a charming love interest, and a wonderful supporting cast. Add in a gripping phase in history, time travel, and a beautiful setting, and you've got everything needed for page-turning historical/fantasy fiction. I look forward to more from this author.
1,426 reviews4 followers
March 13, 2017
I read an advanced copy of this delightful book on Jellybooks. I knew nothing about the story, but was thrilled to find not only was it historical fiction, but also time travel, two of my favorites in one! I really enjoyed this book and will look forward to more in the future
Profile Image for JenniferD.
1,006 reviews360 followers
July 10, 2017
so... the fact it took me 5 weeks (!!!) to read this book should be telling. usually, a book like this would take me just a few days to read. each time i put this book down, i wasn't hugely compelled to pick it back up again. in theory, this novel should have been a dream read for me, ticking so many boxes: debut; doctor-author; historical fiction with a mystery arc; strong female lead... and yet. and. yet.

unfortunately i never really engaged with the scribe of siena. i found the suspension of disbelief difficult, the characters thinly developed (and the supporting characters woefully underused/underdeveloped), the mystery wasn't hugely compelling and didn't create any sense of urgency while i was reading. and the writing felt... distanced. it's clear winawer did great research for this book, and i hugely appreciate that. i also liked the medical moments in the story, and having a glimpse of siena during 1347-1348-1349.

overall, though -- it just felt like there was too much going on in this novel. there was so much potential, and i held out hope until the very end it would all come together... but it never did. i am sorry i didn't like this more.
Profile Image for Jenny Williams.
Author 2 books71 followers
March 26, 2017
THE SCRIBE OF SIENA will inevitably—and rightfully—earn comparisons to OUTLANDER on the basis of its time-travel and romance elements. But to stop there does a disservice to the intricate, unique world Melodie Winawer creates in this cross-genre gem. The female characters are strong and distinctive—such a treat!—and the intersection of romance and history kept me thoroughly engaged throughout. Pure escapism with a touch of magic and modern medicine.

Note: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Jerrie.
985 reviews127 followers
June 24, 2017
I'm a bit on the fence with this one. The writing was pretty good, but not quite great. The plot was solid overall, but things worked out a bit too nicely most of the time. Also, the protagonist was one of those people who seemed to be able to do everything, from effortlessly learning to be a medieval scribe to delivering babies. I guess I like my heroines a bit flawed. I did enjoy the book and this is an excellent debut, but maybe 3.5 ⭐️.
Profile Image for The Geeky Bibliophile.
459 reviews89 followers
May 21, 2017
Back in November, I received an email from Simon & Schuster offering a free ebook if I was willing to take part in a study to help them learn more about how readers engaged with their books. All I had to do was create a Jellybooks account, pick my freebie, and start reading. At the end of every chapter, I would click on a button that said 'sync reading stream'... easy-peasy. Of the five book choices, I had already read one of them, and had my request on Netgalley declined for another. Thinking I would choose the latter, I signed up. I had to read the blurbs for the other books—no self-respecting bibliophile would skip doing that, right?—and my mind was changed as soon as I read the blurb for The Scribe of Siena.

I'll own up to the fact that it was the Outlander mention/comparison that made my choice an easy one. (If you know me, you know I am totally obsessed with love the story of Outlander, so you aren't surprised in the least.) I think I would have chosen this book regardless, because the plot greatly appealed to me. I went into reading it a bit warily, though, because the last book I read that compared itself to Outlander—despite being a very good book—felt like false advertising, in that regard. After giving it some serious thought, I've come to decide that the The Scribe of Siena is worthy of the comparison. The stories, settings, and plots aren't mirror images, of course. It is exactly like Outlander, however, in that it can't be boxed into one single genre, but to a group of genres—specifically time travel, historical fiction, suspense, and romance. They are close enough in the ways that count to make it an acceptable comparison to me.

When books have historical settings, it's important that everything fits the time and place; dress, language, societal hierarchies... all of it has to be right, to feel right. Lovers of historical fiction are sophisticated enough to hone in on little details that don't belong, and it can't ruin the entire book for them when it happens. Thankfully, that didn't happen with this book. Winawer clearly did the necessary historical research to bring this fourteenth-century medieval Italian setting to life, and it paid off beautifully in vivid characters, settings, and dialogue.

The conspiracy at the heart of the story was gripping, and my breath caught more than once as the conspirators set about committing their dastardly deeds. I enjoyed how it tied in to the research Beatrice's brother did prior to his death, and why a particular person in the present day was so motivated to get his hands on that research.

As much as I loved the historical portions of the story, the present day story was equally enjoyable to read. Most of the action understandably takes place in 14th century Siena, but Beatrice's life in modern-day Siena had memorable moments, as well.

The love story between Beatrice and Gabriele was sweet. As is typical concerning lovers from different centuries, Beatrice ultimately has to decide whether to stay in his time, or go back to hers. The catalyst for this decision wasn't something I'd foreseen, and that was a welcome surprise.

I absolutely adored this book, and I highly recommend it. I think fans of the Outlander series would really enjoy it, as well as readers who enjoy a good time travel story lush with historical detail, a healthy dose of romance, and a good batch of suspense added to the mix. The Scribe of Siena is a brilliant debut, and I'm fervently hoping to see more novels from this author in the future!

I received an advance reader copy of this book courtesy of Touchstone and Jellybooks.

Profile Image for Jeannette.
650 reviews139 followers
June 14, 2020
Also available on the WondrousBooks blog.

It wasn't that the book was horrible, really. It was simply very, very dull.

I won't be the first or the last one to point out that The Scribe of Sienna reads a lot like Outlander, except that Outlander has better world-building, more vivid and interesting characters, and you know... Jamie.


In The Scribe of Sienna, we meet Beatrice, a New York neurosurgeon of Italian descent whose brother passes away in Sienna and she travels there to settle his affairs. She gets a bit more than she bargained for when she accidentally travels to Medieval Sienna mere months before the outbreak of the Plague. There, just by accident, she becomes a scribe in the hospital and also meets an artist who is painting the facade of the hospital where her office is.

In short:

1. Time-travel.
2. Impossible romance which breaks the barriers of time.
3. Italian history.
4. Italian history during the Plague.

If you know me, this is the perfect setting, morbid as my tastes are.

What went wrong?

1. The book really does strongly resemble a poor man's Outlander. The main character also happens to be a doctor. The main love interest also happens to be a good man to whom bad things happen and is hunted for his honesty. The main character also feels horribly after time-traveling for the second time. She also gets in trouble with the law and has to be saved. She is also raised by a relative and not by her parents. Detail after detail.
2. Okay, let's say that Outlander is so good that I really didn't mind that The Scribe of Sienna ripped it off. Yeah, but Beatrice is a bad protagonist. She is dull and the author can't quite settle on her personality - at one moment she's super into being a neurosurgeon and literally takes 3 years, or until her brother's death, to finally take time off to visit Sienna where he's been living, and next thing - fuck being a neurosurgeon, being a glorified copy machine in Medieval Sienna is so much better. At one point she's really not an outgoing person and seems not to be too much into seeing guys, and then suddenly she's attacking the poor guy despite his best efforts to say No to her and explaining to him how she's not a virgin and whatnot.
3. Gabriele is no Jamie. Jamie is a very intricate character with a moral struggle. Gabriele is a tall, supposedly handsome guy, who paints and talks awkwardly. There's zero insight into his real thoughts and feelings. There was one incredibly lame scene where Beatrice is trying to force him to talk of his dead wife and he's kind of unwilling and Beatrice immediately "feels him". How? He does not say anything at all about it?!
4. And most of all: I'm a huge history buff. The more gruesome and creepy the history, the better. Few global events can surpass the Plague. To imagine a well-written historical piece about Plague-ridden Sienna sounds amazing. What we get is a half-assed attempt into a historical novel (failed, couldn't care about it any less), an attempt into a The Da Vinci Code-esque thriller (failed, the character who was driving that plot has the charisma of a doorknob), and an equally bad attempt into a romance novel (failed, failed, failed, the characters seemed like such a horrible, forced match).


(Quarantine: Book 18)
Profile Image for Keeley.
399 reviews6 followers
July 17, 2019
Imagine a hybrid fantasy/historical fiction novel in which a neurosurgeon decides to complete the book her dead brother -- a Ph.D. specializing in the fourteenth century -- left unfinished, despite having no training in his field of research. If you can imagine how well that project would turn out, you can imagine how well this novel went, written by a neurosurgeon with no training in historical research or fiction writing.
Within the first few pages, Winawer invites us to suspend our disbelief by revealing that her protagonist Beatrice has a supernatural degree of empathy, allowing her to feel other people's emotions and experiences. This prepares us for eventual time-travel. (Note: don't expect any attempt to offer a satisfying explanation for any of these fantastical elements.)
I don't inherently object to fantasy elements. ("Abandon all disbelief, ye who enter here!") I do object to being asked to suspend my knowledge of how human beings work (assuming we're not in science fiction; things might work differently on imaginary planets). In this book, Beatrice has supposedly been an Italian speaker since childhood and manages to get by in Boccaccio's Italian. Yet she is surprised that "commune di Siena" is pronounced "com-MOON-eh" and not "COM-yoon." I don't understand how the author, who claims to be fluent in French and Spanish, could have so little understanding of language fluency. Beatrice has experience writing with quill pens and imitating decorative initials; somehow, this allows her to be able to read a journal written by a man in the fourteenth century, and upon being transported there, to get a job as a scribe. Now, if the author had ever actually looked at fourteenth century documents, she might have noticed that writing at the time -- and reading writings from the time -- is not so simple as merely making letter shapes with a quill pen and knowing Italian and Latin. Prior to the advent of print, scribes employed a complicated system of abbreviations. It is possible to learn them through long study; a useful handbook is Lexicon Abbreviaturarum: Dizionario Di Abbreviature Latine Ed Italiane. Beatrice, however, has not put in that long study. Equally laughable is the idea that she would be able, working alone, to copy Dante for a patron in a week. Her arm would fall off.

The plot is fun, but it's horribly executed. In addition to the lazy "research" mentioned, the narrative is not aligned with normal narrative approaches in English novel writing -- and not for any interesting/experimental reason. We have first-person narrative sections, probably because Winawer identifies with Beatrice. Then we randomly, sometimes even on the same page, have third-person omniscient, to advance the plot. Or the third-person narrative can be focalized through another character. There is no attempt to do the novelistic thing of "I found this diary" or "later he told me that" or even authorial intrusions into the text. It is just lazy and incoherent.

In summary, feel free to read this if you like Outlander, which is just as lazy. (I gave up on that one after a couple dozen pages because Gabaldon couldn't even be bothered to get basic details right about how people lived a generation ago, so I had zero hopes for her ability to research ye olde Scotland.) I would read Winawer again if she wrote a book she was competent to write (more clever neurosurgeons, just leave them in their century) or hired a collaborating author or competent editor. And I will go back to my Dorothy Dunnett, because she is incredible.
Profile Image for Cynthia.
633 reviews43 followers
May 25, 2017
This is a ripping good story. I love time travel books for heir magical elements but also for the history they contain and Winawer seems to have done here research about the Medieval Era. The Scribe is set in Italy in the mid 1300's and features an American neuro of Italian descent living in New York. She travels to Italy due to a death in her family and begins to indulge her love of history until presto she lands in Medieval Siena right before the plague is due to hit Europe.

Miraculously (tongue in check) she's able to find one of the few jobs open to a woman who's been lucky enough to learn to,read and write during this time: a scribe. The people she gets to know in both eras are fully fleshed characters though there not a lot of emotional depth to them but the mysteries are enthralling. The only fault I find with the book is that though the prose is more than competent it suffers from a stiffness at times. I'd definitely read another book by this new author.

Thank you to,the publisher for providing an advance reading copy.
Profile Image for Jessie  (Ageless Pages Reviews).
1,694 reviews873 followers
May 27, 2017

Fantastic debut novel. Detailed, rich, immersive, atmospheric.

Fans of Susanna Kearsley will want to take note of this time slip fiction that sends a modern-day neurosurgeon back to 1300s Italy as the Plague is due to hit -- and in the Tuscan city worst affected by la Mortalità. Wrapped up in conspiracies and unfamiliar customs and culture, Beatrice must find the truth and where she belongs.

Profile Image for The Lit Bitch.
1,236 reviews394 followers
July 14, 2017
This book was marketed to fans of Outlander and I can totally see why. Lady doctor some how time travels back hundreds of years and falls in love.

Sounds a lot like Outlander right? If you want to get that basic, then yes it is similar to Outlander, however this book is not Outlander so if you are looking for another book series that’s basically like Outlander, then I suggest looking elsewhere. Now that said, if you liked Outlander this book has similarities that you might find intriguing and interesting so if you like time slip novels then keep reading this review.

I’m on the fence with this one. On one hand, it’s entertaining and enjoyable with elements that Outlander fans will like. But on the other hand, I just felt like it was a square story trying to fit into a round hole.

There was a lot of time in the beginning talking about the plague and Siena and establishing Beatrice as a neurosurgeon and as someone with something a little odd going on. But there was nothing subtle about any of this. Too much time was spent talking about the plague and establishing that as the time period we were likely traveling to.

The other piece I struggled with was Beatrice finding Gabriele’s journal and suddenly feeling this connection with him. I get that she was supposed to be feeling this connection to him even through time, but yet something about this just seemed off to me so when she meets him in the ‘past’ I just didn’t buy their attraction. I don’t know, it just seemed off to me and I struggled with that the entire novel. I just felt like some of the elements of the story were trying to fit into place and for one reason or another, it didn’t work and this was one of those elements for me.

The writing was reasonably well written, maybe a little polishing needed but on the whole I would say well written and entertaining. I learned a lot about the plague and felt like the author’s historical research was splendid. She clearly spent time researching Siena, Italian history, art history, and how the plague effected Siena’s population in particular. I almost felt like she wanted to write a historical fiction novel and then added the time travel bit as an after thought. I personally think this would have been better as just a historical fiction novel rather than a time travel novel.

I liked Beatrice well enough. Some might say that she was a little too ‘perfect’ being good at so many things and well, but I actually didn’t mind that. I liked her and thought her dedication to picking up her brother’s research was endearing and made me like her even more. I just wish the romance had a little more oomph.

If you like time travel novels then you will probably like this one. It takes us to a different setting and time period than most historical fiction/time travel novels with romance…..which I liked that the author decided to try something different, but for me this one was just ok.

See my full review here
Profile Image for Annette.
743 reviews321 followers
September 18, 2019
Beatrice is a medical doctor and her brother, Ben, a scholar, who moves to Siena to study medieval Plague and why it was so much worse there than any were else. He dies before his manuscript is published. Once in Siena, at her brother’s house, Beatrice discovers a diary, which takes her into 14th century Siena and a life of a painter, Gabriele Accorsi. She gets transformed back in time to medieval Siena, where she meets Gabriele and falls in love with him and it all happens right before the Plague.

The story starts in present time and it takes time before it moves to medieval Siena. At first we get very short glimpses of medieval Siena through Gabriele’s story. The glimpses are too short and his story is too brief. Once the story happens in medieval Siena, it doesn’t get any better. The plot is slow moving. The descriptions and dialogue are very flat, not attention-grabbing. The story also has minor issues: Beatrice’s questionable transition from present to past and questionable fact of archivist bending rule of letting original copy out of library.

@FB: Best Historical Fiction
458 reviews
April 10, 2017
I received a free copy of this book from a Simon and Shuster Canada. I really wanted to love this book. Honestly.
I thought the premise was promising. Who doesn't love a great romantic tale and time travel. But, I thought it was truly lacking any sustained romance and I had no idea how Beatrice time travelled? I must have missed that. I did learn much about the plague though.
Don't get me wrong, this was a great effort of a first novel, but I think the author tried to mix too many elements of accuracy of the times and language and the story itself felt flat and too was too long. As an aside, archivists don't allow original copies of works to leave their buildings. This happened twice in the novel.
Profile Image for Allie.
137 reviews127 followers
June 6, 2017
My mom's book club would really like this novel. The Scribe of Siena centers on Beatrice, a single, American neurosurgeon who somehow travels back in time to find love (and mystery!) in 14th century Siena. Don't get me wrong, the book is reasonably well-written, entertaining, and seems well-researched (at least to me, with my nonexistent knowledge of medieval Italy). And it would be a good beach read, accompanied by an ice cold margarita. But it was like reading the Italy chapters of Eat Pray Love crossed with the Da Vinci Code, with perhaps a little more historical veracity.

I enjoyed reading about modern and medieval Siena, neurosurgery, medieval cooking, and the techniques behind fresco painting. The characters were likeable and nothing too terrible happens to spoil the happy ending...well, apart from the Black Death. But much of the book seemed absurd. Beatrice just happens to speak Italian, to have been raised Catholic, to understand Latin, and to have a scholarly brother who familiarized her with medieval Italian customs. She also just happens to find a protector, a place of residence, and a job in the local convent within days of arriving in a different century, despite having no money and no one to vouch for her. And the widowed painter she falls in love with calmly accepts her time travel story and modern day feminist habits with nary a qualm. Seriously, not even one teensy tiny qualm. There was also no reasonable logic behind her time travel or intermittent ESP in a world with no other apparent magic.

Still, if you can suspend disbelief and are looking for an engaging read that won't tax you too much, this was a fun diversion. Now where are the chips and salsa to go with my margarita?
Profile Image for Jillian.
21 reviews
December 30, 2016
This book held my attention from the first page to the last, and I absolutely could not put it down. The story was both realistic and fantastic, in the best possible combination. Beatrice’s character is perfectly created, and she acts and thinks in a very realistic and convincing manner.

Everything from the historical to the fantastical is portrayed in such perfect clarity that you find yourself beleiving the entire tale, from beginning to end, and cheering for the characters as they navigate the murky waters of political intruigue and the coming of the plague which destroyed over half of the Siena population at the time.

This book was provided by Jellybooks. You can see the rest of my review here: https://bookendtobookend.wordpress.co...
Profile Image for Bree Hill.
772 reviews575 followers
October 15, 2017
Maybe now wasn’t the time for me to read this. It has just about everything I want in a story..but I would set it down and have to force myself to pick it back up after a while, both physically and the audiobook.
It has one of the best main characters I’ve ever read from the perspective of. I like how she stuck to her guns when in certain situations. I of course enjoyed the love story and how it developed..and the PLAGUE..my goodness! This is one of the only historical fiction time traveling stories that really gave me that sense of being a woman out of place and time..it still just fell a little flat for me. Maybe I’ll give it a reread at some point.
Profile Image for Jelilat Adesiyan.
188 reviews4 followers
December 1, 2016
I was extremely glad i received the email from Jellybooks that enabled me to read this book. For those who didn’t see my last post, Jellybooks is a company that collects reading data and gives readers the option to choose one of several books to read. I’s so glad I chose this book.

I love historical fiction, especially when they involve an element of time travel. I’m really glad that the description of this book drew me in and that I chose I among all others. That’s 2 for 2 with the Jellybooks! (Yeaaaahhhh).

The title of this book aptly if not broadly describes the content of the book (not!). It does and it doesn’t, but isn’t that the fun of titles. The novel features Beatrice, named after the Dante’s lady, and an artist named Gabriele (Gab-re-eleh). Beatrice while in Siena following the trail of her brother’s, Ben, research falls through time to medicinal 1300 Siena. A land of deep flavors and intrigue. There she finds a city that welcomes her, finds new love and family, and all before the Black plague fills the city with death. But why does Siena fare worse than other italian communes?

I’m just going to throw in some spoilers. I love that Beatrice got to have her modern amenities, and that she said goodbye in many ways, and I especially loved that epilogue. I’m going to miss the story.

It’s pretty clear that I loved this book. I’ll definitely give it a five-star rating, and would definitely recommend it to my friends.

You should definitely buy/ pre-order it!
Profile Image for Olga Kowalska (WielkiBuk).
1,396 reviews2,268 followers
August 27, 2019
Średniowieczna Siena skąpana w spisku, Czarna Śmierć i romans ponad wiekami, czyli „Skryba ze Sieny” Melodie Winawer, który może zaintrygować miłośników „Obcej” Diany Gabaldon.

Oczywistą inspiracją dla powieści Melodie Winawer jest cykl Diaby Gabaldon „Obca”, który zrobił furorę pośród czytelników z całego świata. Niemniej debiutująca pisarka w „Skrybie ze Sieny” poszła w nieco odmiennym kierunku, skupiając się przede wszystkim na historii, romansem uzupełniając jedynie fabularne braki. Odniosłam wrażenie, że chciała opowiedzieć zbyt wiele, najpierw dzieląc się nieistotnymi detalami życia głównej bohaterki, a potem zarzucając czytelnika fascynującymi faktami z epoki, dorzucając rodzące się uczucia Beatrice i Gabriele. Zabrakło spójności, bo całość zdaje się dzielić na dwie połowy, dwie różne opowieści, dla których punktem wspólnym jest co prawda spisek w Sienie i Czarna Śmierć, ale nic poza tym.

Melodie Winawer wybrała bardzo charakterystyczny podgatunek literatury historyczno-romantycznej, postawiła sobie poprzeczkę wysoko, ale nie do końca udało jej się osiągnąć wyznaczony cel. „Skrybę ze Sieny” czyta się z zainteresowaniem, ale nie jest to opowieść, która zapadnie czytelnikowi w pamięci. Najmocniejszą stroną jest tutaj element historii średniowiecznej Europy – autorka zrobiła porządny research i to widać – ale sami bohaterowie nie mają w sobie tej iskry, która zmusza nas do pozostania u ich boku na dłużej, a fabuła lepie się, chociaż bez większego polotu. Czyta się, ot po prostu. Trochę szkoda, niemniej z drugiej strony widać w „Skrybie ze Sieny” potencjał. Może kolejna powieść spod jej pióra będzie już bardziej dopracowana?
Profile Image for Kim Killian.
13 reviews1 follower
January 3, 2017
An opportunity from JellyBooks to be one of the first to read this debut book from a 1st time author Melodie Winawer. It's set in the 14th century Italy - where Beatrice Trovato the main character finds herself transported from modern day as a neurosurgeon to the past as a scribe. It's a romance hidden within a "historical conspiracy".

Her brother, a historian dies expectantly and she travels to Italy to handle the estate. As the story unfolds she discovers a conspiracy that had happened over 700 years earlier.

While there she discovers the paintings of a Gabriele Accorsi, a 14th century painter who created a an image of her - how could this be? Find out as she's transported back in time, discover the plot, her falling in love with not only the city but with Gabriele just as the Plague is about to unfold. Will she survive?

The story is beautifully and historically told, the intrinsic details build upon each other and provide a strong backdrop to a conspiracy that will keep you reading.
Profile Image for Sofia.
62 reviews48 followers
December 8, 2016
I got this book free from Jellybooks. It has been described as similar to Outlander, and I can total see that, but it is also completely it's own book. The main character, Beatrice, is relatable and interesting and her special empathy is a really fascinating character trait. The intrigue of the Sienese plague mystery was really fun to follow and discover and the the descriptions of Italy and medieval life were so detailed and interesting. Also, I just love that Beatrice becomes a scribe. So cool. I already like historical fiction and romance and learning about other cultures, so it was probably inevitable that I would like this book, but I would definitely recommend it if you like the same genres because this was a great read.
Profile Image for Ellen.
59 reviews1 follower
June 13, 2017
Subpar Outlander rip-off. I would like to read the book where after mysteriously time traveling a modern woman looks around and sees that the bathrooms are non-existent, the clothes are filthy and that the one cute guy comes up to her shoulder, has bad teeth and expects her to clean his hovel. She spends the rest of the book trying to apply some logic to whatever nonsense brought her there so she can get back home and meet a nice guy online.
Profile Image for Kathy.
3,307 reviews175 followers
September 29, 2017
2.5 stars for me
Read this at my library today trying to decide whether to carry the book a few miles, and then I just remained seated and finished it off quickly by skipping over parts. I wanted to give this one a chance because of the author's impressive education/career and perhaps unfairly had expectations raised a tad high. It is her first novel. I rarely enjoy fantasy/time travel schemes, so there you have it. Not for me.
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