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The Orphan of Florence

3.38  ·  Rating details ·  247 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
In this irresistible historical novel set in the turbulent world of the Medicis, a young woman finds herself driven from pick-pocketing to espionage when she meets a mysterious man.

Giulia has been an orphan all her life. Raised in Florence's famous Ospedale degli Innocenti, her probing questions and insubordinate behavior made her an unwelcome presence, and at the age of f
Paperback, 324 pages
Published October 3rd 2017 by St. Martin's Griffin
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Full review here. I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

November 1478, only seven months after the Pazzi conspiracy which took the life of Lorenzo de' Medici's brother, Giuliano, in a brutal attempt to gain control of the Florentine government. Giuliana, who was raised as an orphan in Florence's Hospital of the Innocents, has been on the streets fending for herself since being turned out by the sisters. She took with her young Tommaso, and together th
I received this from in exchange for a review.

Giulia, a 15 yr old orphan, is told she will marry an elderly tanner or become a nun. She does neither and goes to the streets as Giuliano, a young man. She took with her 6 yr old Tommaso and together they survive as pick pockets. But, one evening they prey on the kindness of the wrong person and both of their lives are irreversibly changed forever as they are separated.

Reminiscent of the DiVinci stories, this is a fast paced story set
Aug 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Ever since STARZ aired the series Da Vinci's Demons I have had a better understanding of this time period. But alas no Da Vinci appearance in this work. Lorenzo de' Medici ruler and wealthy leader of Florence is at war with the Pope and Rome. Florence is overflowing with poverty and homeless citizens. Guiliana has resided in an orphanage her whole life with her options at age 15 either marry or join the religious order. No reading or writing were taught to girls. But with Guiliana's exceptional ...more
Jenny Buchta
Aug 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
I've read several of Jeanne Kalogridis's novels: The Borgia Bride; I, Mona Lisa; The Devil's Queen; The Inquisitor's Wife; The Scarlet Contessa. Basically anything that she's written sans the vampire books, I've read. This novel was, by far, my least favorite. Not only is the cover deceiving (the "orphan" dresses as a boy the entire book, so why is there a picture of a girl on the cover?), but several times throughout the novel the incorrect pronoun is used ("she") when the "bad guys" didn't kno ...more
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I am an absolute sucker for anything set in (Renaissance) Florence, but the author is a bit of a hit or miss for me, and I approached the novel with trepidation…

And fell right into the consuming rabbit hole of the story. Wow!

My other absolute sucker-ness is for stories with women getting by in the world masquerading as men.

I loved Guilia—she knew from the get-go that her mind was different than the other children and adults around her. Smart as she is, she struggles to overcome the real talent
Crystal King
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I admit, as a writer in the same genre, I'm a bit biased toward books set in Renaissance Italy. But it also means I'm probably a bit more critical as I know the era so well. And about The Orphan of Florence, I loved it. I adored the characters, cheered them on and railed against the bad guys. I loved Giulio/a so much and just could not put the book down--I had to know what was going to happen to her. Kalogridis took some liberties with the Medici history but it was all in the sense of a good rol ...more
This fast paced novel involving Jewish mysticism follows a foundling pickpocket who winds up apprenticing with a Jewish magician in Renaissance Florence, not realizing he holds the key to her past, or what kind of danger she's landed herself in when she gets involved in the war between Lorenzo de Medici and the Pope.

It seemed a little unrealistic at first, but then things come together. Well written and plot driven, the action, espionage, and mystery keeps you wanting to know more. I liked the c
I liked this one, though I'm not quiiiite sure what it was meant to be: historical fiction? historical fantasy (she does apprentice under the Magician of Florence, after all, though the talismans created seem to be more based in mysticism and religion than straight magic)? I also didn't get the romance. At all.

& I rarely ever quibble over cover designs, but the book made a point of describing Guili as having close cropped hair - she's spent years surviving on the streets as a thief, a boy. I
Melinda Sabo
Sep 09, 2017 rated it liked it
There are so many wonderful things to say about this book. It's very well written with many interesting characters and a tremendous sense of place. I love to read books set in Florence as it's like a trip back to one of my favorite cities. The author does an exquisite job of rendering Florence in the time of Lorenzo Medeci. The subject matter: magic, thieves, spies, and war are all rendered with great excitement. My disappointment and my reason for three stars rather than four (or what I thought ...more
Entrada Book Review
Sep 01, 2017 rated it liked it
The Orphan of Florence is set in Florence, Italy in 1478. The story follows Giulia’s life from her time as an orphan to pick pocket to something quite special. Through a series of events she becomes apprenticed to the great Magician of Florence, learning the tricks of his trade while trying to hide the fact that she is in fact a woman. Graced with eyes of two different colors, Giulia is not only different, it’s apparent to everyone around her. The story starts off well and has great promise. How ...more
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Giuliana is a 15 year old orphan living off the streets of Florence after being released from an orphanage. She takes responsibility for another young orphan named Tommasso who is 6 years old. As a pickpocket, it was safer for her to dress as a boy, hence she called herself Giuliano. One night, she picks the pocket of an old man who turns out to be the Magician of Florence. Instead of turning her in, he takes her into his fold, promising to teach her the secrets of Magic. It is there she meets N ...more
Kathleen Freeman
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I just discovered this author earlier this year and I am so glad a did. Jeanne is a wonderful writer, I loved the attention to detail in this book, you feel like you have been transported to Florence in the 1400's with the sites and smells she describes. I really liked how the story was told from Guilia's perspective, overall I really enjoyed this book.
Showie Ford
Jan 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I actually downloaded this book on accident. I was completely unaware that I was requesting it.
That being said, it was a lovely story. Great read!
The characters were strong, the plot well developed and the cover marvelous!
I highly recommend this story to anyone browsing for a new favorite book.
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was ok
Oh, just awful. I picked this up from the library because I needed some easy historical fiction to ease myself back into the habit of actually reading books, and I had read The Burning Times in high school and loved it (at least, I remember loving it). But wow, yeah, the writing on this one is about as bad as it gets. I liked the premise and the magic stuff was pretty interesting, but it was over for me when the characters started speaking in contemporary American-sounding English. Poor Cecilia, ...more
Katie Hileman
Oct 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
I’m really disappointed in this novel. I have read all of Jeanne Kalogridis’ historical fiction novels and have always been more than satisfied with them. But this book was so sloppy, I still can’t believe she wrote it. I read through it in case it just took awhile to get into it, but the characters and plot jumped around so much. It felt like a first novel rather than her fifteenth (or however many she has written). I recommend reading her other novels before reading this one- don’t judge her w ...more
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
I normally like books set in the time of Renaissance Italy (Florence in this case) and the factions around the various households, such as the Medici. This one just didn't work for me though. There were interesting elements (like the cis teenage girl masquerading as a boy while mothering an orphaned 6 year old boy and financially supporting another teenage girl + baby) in this pickpocket turned mystical apprentice + spy story. At the same time, it felt like an odd mash-up of genres and I ended u ...more
Aug 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
The drawn-out style of writing and somehow predictable action is not the style of writing I like to read. Therefore, I’m not the right reviewer for this book. There are others who appreciate this style of writing and they will reveal veracious reviews.

@FB: Best Historical Fiction
The Orphan of Florence gives the reader a good glimpse into the life and politics in the active city of Florence in the late 1400's when the Medici family was at war with Rome and Pope Sixtus. There is plenty of well-written atmosphere and drama.

Guiliana, the main character, was raised in The Hospital of the Innocents from birth until age 15. Due to her intelligence and feisty, mocking spirit, the Mother Superior was only too happy to see Guiliana reach the age where she would have to either be
Giulia is an orphan of Florence. Her only choice as a woman of Florence is to marry or become a nun. Giulia believes that neither option works for her. So, she cuts her hair, dresses as a man, and becomes a thief to make a living. When she is caught red-handed pickpocketing a magician, Giulia is forced to become the magician’s apprentice. Giulia learns that the magician is more than what he seems to be. Soon, she finds herself in the midst of murder, secrets, magic, and conspiracies. Florence ha ...more
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Orphan of Florence is a well-written, dark historical fiction that takes place during the turbulent years of the 1400’s, in Florence, Italy.

After two years of surviving on the streets in Florence, disguised as a boy, the orphan, Giulia, was caught pickpocketing an old man. The gentleman, Ser Abramo whom Giulia had stolen from, told the arresting officer, that he would prefer to take the lad into his home, rather than have the boy jailed. Giulia was later informed by Ser Abramo that she woul
Candy Briggs
Sep 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Giuliano 15 and an orphan, hated by Mother Superior at the orphanage, lived on the streets for two years being a pickpocket and thief. Tommaso is 6, he was at the font crying because his mother died of plague, when Guiliano was forced to leave because of her age. The sisters would not take him into the orphanage, he was four at the time. So Giuliano took him and was responsible for him. Abramo caught Giuliano when he tried to pick his pocket. Niccolo was raised by Abramo, he also was an orphan a ...more
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
(thank you Netgalley for an early reader copy in exchange for unbiased review)

The Orphan of Florence is engaging, entertaining, full of great characters and lots of twists and turns! It's historical fiction in it's setting, but not in its characters which are richly drawn from the writers imagination!

Giulia and her young sidekick Tommaso are orphans on the streets of Florence, who survive by picking pockets, but in a most sophisticated way. Giulia is dresses as a boy for safety, and Tommaso is s
Sherry Chiger
Oct 19, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm a sucker for historical novels about streetwise urchins and those about young women who need to disguise themselves as male. The narrator of "The Orphan of Florence" is a streetwise young woman disguising herself as a young man, so I expected to love it. Unfortunately I didn't. In some ways the story was overly obvious (we get it, she really does care about the people close to her, not matter how much she declares otherwise); at other times it was overly convoluted. Similarly, the attitude t ...more
A few days ago I saw this in my "currently reading" list and honestly couldn't remember if I'd actually finished it already or not. That's not a good sign. Then when I found it in a pile of other books and saw that I was more than 75% through, I figured I'd finish it.

I am more wont to complain that a book should have been shorter than that it should have been longer, but this really could have done with some more pages. The whole plot felt rushed and incomplete, the romance (?) was completely f
Sep 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am voluntarily submitting my honest review after receiving an ARC of this ebook from NetGalley.

I started this novel with high, high expectations because I have read and thoroughly enjoyed several of this author's previous works. While this book is not my favorite novel by Kalogridis, it did not disappoint. The plot is fast=paced, with lots of drama and intrigue. The vivid descriptions of Florence invoke a sense of place and time that enhance the novel to the extent that the city herself is alm
Kathleen Gray
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Atmospheric and entertaining historical fiction! Guilia is a survivor, for sure, and she needs to be in Medici era Florence. Thank goodness 15 year old girls no longer find themselves faced with the choice of the nunnery or marriage. Sadly, though, the streets are less kind than they were to Guilia, who supports herself as a pickpocket until she meets the Magician, Ser Abramo. I liked the descriptions of the various talismans. You'll like this if you're familiar with or interested in the complic ...more
Benjamin Bookman
Oct 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
I couldn’t put this book down (or out of my mind) until I had time to finish it. Very readable while also having the right touch of history. I loved the main character and her gender-bending ways, along with her heart and relationships with the other characters. I could have lived without some of the cheesy/sappy aspects and particularly the last few chapters. But I can overlook it because of how much I enjoyed everything else. I would read more from this author, particularly if it was set in th ...more
Olivia Frederick
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was an interesting read. It had a good premise and good writing but the main character was an idiot. Way too cynical and never believed the obvious, always jumping to the wrong conclusion. And then the ending was so rushed. Random things were added last minute even though they didn’t really connect to the plot, like a romance that was never brought up throughout the novel and suddenly at the end happens...
Terry Moskowitz
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Giulia was an orphan an in order to survive on the streets she pretended to be a boy. Her life becomes very interesting when she makes the wrong choice. She was brought into the world of magic and every minute she survives is a good one.
You will be brought into a book where every turn of the page keeps you on your feet. The action and suspense is delightful.

** I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review**
Jan 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historicalfiction, ya
This is totally a YA novel (even though it is classified adult in our system), with non-stop thrilling action and spy skullduggery surrounding Lorenzo the Magnificent's Florentine struggle against Rome and the corrupt Pope. Pickpocket/thief Giuliano (Giuliana in disguise) must decide who to believe and who to trust when the Magician who took her in and made her apprentice, is killed by his previous apprentice (who happens to be quite handsome) - or is this all just the Magician's illusion?
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 2 May 03, 2017 03:25PM  
Jeanne was born in Florida , and has been interested in books ever since. Her interest in language led her to earn an M.A. in Linguistics. She taught English as a Second Language for eight years at The American University of Washington, D.C., before retiring to write full time.

She now lives in California with an overly adored Labrador retriever. Her outside interests include yoga and reading ever
More about Jeanne Kalogridis

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