A GOLDEN WEB by Barbara Quick


Age Range: 12 & up
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Alessandra Giliani, a brilliant young woman who studied anatomy in 14th-century Bologna with Mondino, the university’s renowned doctor, may or may not have actually existed. Quick has made a page-turner of a story out of this scrap of history or legend, festooning it with many well-worn elements of romantic fiction. Alessandra has an unkind stepmother, she sneaks into her brother’s lessons and he teaches her (secretly) how to ride and how to use a knife. She escapes from the convent to which she is sent and appears in male dress to attend lectures in anatomy at Bologna’s university. A credibility-stretching number of people learn her secret, including the man to whom her family has betrothed her, also a student, and they marry while she continues both disguise and studies. The novel’s end is as clichéd as what has gone before—beyond introducing Giliani to modern audiences, there is little new here. While historical facts and details are incorporated, some of the naming is discordant (Nicky is not a nickname in Italy, nor is Maxie), and the entire tone is jarringly contemporary. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-06-144887-4
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: HarperTeen
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2010