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Waking Isabella

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  49 ratings  ·  39 reviews
Waking Isabella is a story about uncovering hidden beauty that, over time, has been lost, erased, or suppressed. It also weaves together several love stories as well as a few mysteries. Nora, an assistant researcher, is a catalyst for resolving the puzzle of a painting that has been missing for decades. Set in Arezzo, a small Tuscan town, the plot unfolds against the backd ...more
Paperback, 250 pages
Published November 2017 by Matta Press
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Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
When Isabella woke that morning with intentions of washing her long dark hair, she hadn’t imagined she would be dead before it was dry.’

This arresting opening sentence is the starting point of a journey that will take the reader from 16th century Florence to the Tuscan town of Arezzo in the Second World War and in the present day.   There are sections told from the point of view of Isabella (briefly), Margherita (in wartime Arezzo) but largely from Nora in the present day.  I found these differe
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Waking Isabella: Melissa Muldoon
Isabella, Margherita Carlotta would haunt the mind of Leonora (Nora) in the present as she meets each one in the past hoping to learn more about each one’s life, their deaths and the betrayals that they endured while finding her own way or new path in the present. Going to Italy to film a documentary about the life of Isabella de Medici, Nora a research assistant facing demons from her past and trying to learn to move forward in the present finds herself bound to
Reader Views
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Reviewed by Sheri Hoyte for Reader Views (1/18)

Melissa Muldoon delivers an enchanting story set in Arezzo, Italy about love, intrigue, mystery, traditions, and art in her latest novel, “Waking Isabella.”

Leonora (Nora), a young research assistant who is at a crossroads in her life, travels to Italy to film a documentary on 16th Century Italian princess, Isabella de Medici. Fascinated with the history surrounding the princess, Nora hopes to uncover some of the mystery surrounding her tragic death,
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Ever since I discovered Italian art in school, the Renaissance has been my favourite period in History. Alas, I could not pass the opportunity to read this book where past and present mingle in a quest for beauty.

This contemporary story is flavoured with Italian culture, lost dreams that fight to keep alive, sensual longings and the feminine spirit in search of happiness and freedom.

The light writing makes the novel fluid and easy to read, yet it still manages to convey beauty and heart. Through
I enjoyed this book that concentrated on the subject of Art in History. Told from the viewpoint of a modern day historical researcher, the story moves back and forth through three distinct timelines centering on the lives of three exceptional women. Nora accepts her dream job in Italy filming a documentary about Isabella de Medici who was murdered by her jealous husband in the 1500's. In the course of her research she also learns about another family and their experiences in Italy during the Naz ...more
Stephanie Jane
Feb 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction-americas
See more of my book reviews on my blog, Literary Flits

Waking Isabella is a lovely romance that benefits from being absolutely drenched in Italian sunshine and the good life of that culture. Melissa Muldoon obviously has a great love for Italy and Tuscany in particular and this love shines through her descriptions of Arezzo, especially her evocations of the people and their special festivals. I loved learning about the history of these jousting events and about Arezzo's connection with the famous
Feb 19, 2018 rated it liked it
I did enjoy the rich history of Italy and art. Ms. Muldoon's expertise really lends itself nicely with this book. It made me become more fascinated by art. I want to learn more about the history of famous artists and portraits. Additionally, I hope to one day visit Italy but until then, I felt like I took a quick trip there reading this book.

This book is broken up into two parts. The first section involving Isabella's story and the second part is Margherita's story. In the beginning, I actually
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
*This ARC was received in exchange for an honest review*

This is the story of Nora who has been researching the stories of the 16th century princess Isabella de Medici and Margherita Carlotta a young girl in Nazi occupied Italy. While filming this documentary in Italy her research brings her to face her past.
While researching the mystery around Isabella’s tragic death, Nora meets up with an old friend and antique dealer Gianluca Donati, where this then leads to the smuggling of artwork during WWI
Marilyn Wilson
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Waking Isabella is the second fiction novel by author Melissa Muldoon that embraces her love of Italy including its culture, history, food and art.

There are two main characters at the very center of this story who live at different times. First is Nora, an academic who has recently divorced and decided to revisit Italy to film a documentary on a Renaissance princess she has been researching. From the past is the princess - Isabella - who meets her end at the hands of her husband. There are also
Aimee Ann
Jul 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Waking Isabella is an incredible, enchanting, and memorable piece of fiction that I am obsessed with! This phenomenal book has stolen my heart and ran off with it; the brilliant story of Waking Isabella is captivating and full of many moments that will keep you in awe from start to finish. Books of this nature make for fantastic reads, and they make an even better read when the author is an excellent writer and knows what they are doing! That is why I was so pleased when I started to read this s ...more
Feb 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018, a-z2018
Read the full review at Elgee Writes |

The story begins with the murder of Isabella de Medici, an Italian princess in the 16th Century. We then read about the protagonist Leonora (Nora), a young researcher (a glorified fact checker, as she calls) who is recovering from a failed marriage and focusing on her passion finally. Nora reconnects with an old friend which ignites to return to Italy;. She packs her bags to Italy to film a documentary on Isabella, the renaissance princess with whom she has
Jesse Broadt
Jan 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is another very unique and unusual work by a very talented author. If you want more than just a straight storyline, these books are an excellent choice. They immerse you in culture in a way that I’ve seen very few stories do, but also keep you engaged in interesting dialogue that you know is setting the stage for new things to come.

I could almost feel Nora pining for Italy at the beginning of the book, when she’s walking through the market. Nora essentially saying goodbye to her ex-husband
Tonja Drecker
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Trying to regain footing in life, Nora dives into the history behind a fifteenth-century Tuscan duke's daughter and the mystery surrounding her death as well as a missing painting.

Isabella does not have a wonderful marriage, but it isn't so awful that she expects her husband to enter her bedroom and murder her once her father's dead. Hundreds of years later, Nora, a modern woman just leaving a divorce, searches for the answers surrounding what-could-have-been and what-ifs. After reading and stud
Feb 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
After thoroughly enjoying The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola by Melissa Muldoon, I was excited to read another book by the same author. Another historical fiction that includes painters in Europe that brings readers through the trials of life as an artist of the past. While The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola takes place in the 16th century, Waking Isabella brings readers through various time periods, including the 16th, 20th, and 21st centuries.

Isabella was a princess in Italy who was
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
After I read Dreaming Sophia, which I enjoyed immensely, I knew I wanted to read Melissa Muldoon's second novel Waking Isabella. And I liked this one just as much, if not more. The special thing about Muldoon's books is that she can easily transport one to Italy through the pages of a good story, immersing the reader not only in the country's culture and language, but also its rich art history.

Nora, an assistant researcher, makes a bold move when she decides to move on with her life after a fai
Mar 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Nora is an assistant research who feels like her life hit the wall. She is going through a divorce and feels like her life is missing something. After coming across a photo of a friend who was surrounded by two men in the vineyard, Nora realizes she is jealous of her friend and hopes that her life changes for the better. However, instead of sitting around and moping, Nora decides to create a documentary about the rebellious Medici princess, Isabella. While working on her documentary, Nora explor ...more
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Bored and unfulfilled with her life, protagonist Nora gets a reprieve when she to return to Italy to produce a video on the life of Isabella de Medici. In the process she reunites with her college roommate and ultimately meets a guy who shares her love of history. The overall vibe was a little like A Year in Provence or Beneath the Tuscan Sun. It’s a predictable story but the addition of Margherita to the mix kept it from being too straightforward.

It’s an enjoyable read, with likable and intere
Feb 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing

Waking Isabella is a beautifully written story of discovery, passion, love and hope.

Nora has just left her husband, she realized their marriage was not quite what she had wanted or needed. She had given up so much of her life and passions (her art and jewellery) and she uses this time in her life to regain what she has lost. She had always loved the story of Isabella Medici and applies to do research on the beautiful Princess and her tragic death.

In Italy, she comes upon much more than she expec
Jessica Bronder
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Leonora, Nora, is suffering from a broken marriage when an old friend invites her to Italy to be part of a documentary on Isabella de’ Medici, a princess murdered by her husband. Nora starts researching Isabella to try to find more information on her death and to try and locate a missing painting of Isabella and her mother that disappeared years before.

As Nora starts looking, she meets several people. One of those is Luca, the owner of a family antique business. Luca brings up how his grandmoth
Feb 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I have read and enjoyed books by Melissa Muldoon. So, it was exciting to have the opportunity to read Waking Isabella. It was no disappointment. This one is probably my favorite to date. It was great how the author was able intertwine the fifteenth, twentieth, and twenty first centuries. Even though there are a variety of characters in the book, I thought it was easy to keep up with them all. I loved being whisked away to the beautiful setting of Arezzo, a little Tuscan town. Nora’s story was so ...more
Stephanie Ward
From the coast of California to the charm of Tuscany, Waking Isabella whisks readers into a web of intrigue, history and soul searching in a stunning setting. Nora is in a personal and professional crisis as her marriage ends and her career is at crossroads. So when an old friend pops up on social media, Nora takes a leap of faith and puts in motion a journey that ultimately connects her with a Medici princess. In a mix of old and new, past and present, Waking Isabella keeps a quick pace as it w ...more
May 16, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Waking Isabella: Because beauty can't sleep forever" penned by the author Melissa Muldoon is an amazing story set in Arezzo, a small Tuscan town. In 1576, a princess Isabella was brutally murdered by her husband Paolo.

Main character of the story is Nora. She lives in California. Nora is an assistant researcher at Stanford. She also has an artistic and critical eye. She is the keeper of the past and could talk a lot about sixteenth century Italian Curule chairs, French commodes, and Delft ceram
Carol Wood
Feb 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was so intriguing! It was interesting learning about Isabella Medici and the details surrounding her death. I felt as if I was actually there and could see everything around me quite clearly. Melissa's wording put me in each room and landscape. It was fun how certain things were said in Italian; however, if one is not acquainted with the language, the idea was explained in the following sentences. I am a beginning Italian language speaker, so I kept reading and re-reading the Italian w ...more
Debra Schoenberger
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
For  anyone who loves history, art and anything Italian, this is the perfect novel for you.  The story begins with Isabella de Medici, a 16th century Italian princess and the circumstances surrounding her mysterious, untimely death as well as the disappearance of her most beloved painting.

Nora, a researcher and art lover is recuperating from a failed marriage.  She is at a point in her life where she must decide to take the safe route and remain a researcher or follow her dreams to return to Ita
Melissa W
Having read Ms. Muldoon’s previous book Dreaming Sophia, I was really excited when I saw a tour for a book by her again and was really intrigued with what this book was going to be about.

While the book started a little slow, the book definitely picked up steam as the book made its way through the storyline. I particularly liked the parts about hiding the art work, as I had really enjoyed the movie The Monuments Men when it came out a number of years ago. I also consider myself to be a bit of a f
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Historical, full of passion and adventurous  
I enjoyed reading this 2nd book from the author. It is historical. It is fun to learn more about the place Arezzo in the town of Tuscany in Italy. The cultures and traditions back during the days.  
It is full of passion despite tragic loss and mysterious. True love can only happened when you really cared for that person. It cannot be learn not unless your heart is beating fast for that person.  
This book is very adventurous. My favorite character i
Feb 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Although I found it difficult to get into Waking Isabella to begin with, it was well worth the persistence. It is a beautiful story about love and history and the interconnectivity of life, and I highly recommend it.

The main difficulty that that I had with the book resulted from the format, being a story that looks in turn at the lives of Nora, Isabella and Margherita. Although this is a form that often works brilliantly from the outset, I found myself far more engaged with one character than th
Feb 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Waking Isabella is a light, easy read about a taking chances and finding beauty in unlikely places. It weaves together the stories of three women in three different historical periods and connects them to the tiny Tuscan town of Arezzo. Its descriptions of quaint Italian towns and mentions of Italian art, history, medieval festivals, and wine will definitely leave you with the urge to visit Italy.

The book was not an unpleasant read, but I did find it very predictable; only one plot point in the
Ronald Foster
Sep 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful novel, full of beauty and hope. It starts out with a bang, first with the historical story of Isabella of the Medici. Next, with the conflicts and confusion filling Nora’s head as she seeks to move past a broken marriage and re-evaluate her life. The middle part of the book moves more slowly, as Nora begins to form new relationships and absorb the beauty that Italy has to offer. Nora, totally a romantic with a lively imagination, is often lost in the moment. She has trouble c ...more
michael sdao
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Another wonderful winner from Melissa Muldoon! Her tales of Tuscany, woven seamlessly between history and present-day, incorporate all the elements of a good book: characters we grow to know and care about, locations beautifully depicted, intertwining plots that unfold in ways that keep the reader enthralled. Great for the armchair traveler as well as those of us who know Tuscany well. Can't wait for the next one, Melissa! ...more
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Melissa Muldoon is the author of four novels set in Italy: “Dreaming Sophia”, “Waking Isabella”, “Eternally Artemisia,” and “The Secret Life of Sofonisba.” All four books tell the stories of women and their journeys of self-discovery to find love, uncover hidden truths, and follow their destinies to shape a better future.

“The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola” will be published on December 8th 2

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