DANTE’S DAUGHTER by Kimberly Heuston


Age Range: 14 & up
Email this review


A flawed, but engrossing novel about the only daughter of the author of the Divine Comedy, who made Italian a language for poets. It’s easy to list its flaws: it’s overlong; it’s written in a sometimes awkward first person; it covers too much ground as Antonia, called Bice, recounts her life from Florence in 1301 when she is a tiny child to Ravenna in 1350. It covers the last 30 years in two pages. However, Bice is the intelligent and difficult child of intelligent and difficult parents: readers see her travels to Paris and to Siena. They see her mother’s struggles to preserve the family fortunes as her father wrote and chose political activism, often on the “wrong” side. Bice learns to read, to draw, to prepare vellum, and to illuminate. The wrenching labor involved in 14th-century life is a given, and Heuston limns it well. Historians know only that Dante had a daughter who lived with him the last years of his life and became a nun at the end of hers. Heuston has made a vivid embroidery of the rest. (Historical fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 2003
ISBN: 1-886910-97-9
Page count: 307pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2003