I stayed up until I don't know what time to finish The Daughter of Siena by Marina Fiorato... I refused to look at the clock as I had to get up at 5:30am, but I know some 80 pages before "the end" it was already after midnight.
From the publisher...
Amid the intrigue and danger of 18th-century Italy, a young woman becomes embroiled in romance and treachery with a rider in the Palio, the breathtaking horse race set in Siena....
It’s 1729, and the Palio, a white-knuckle horse race, is soon to be held in the heart of the peerless Tuscan city of Siena. But the beauty and pageantry masks the deadly rivalry that exists among the city’s districts. Each ward, represented by an animal symbol, puts forth a rider to claim the winner’s banner, but the contest turns citizens into tribes and men into beasts—and beautiful, headstrong, young Pia Tolomei is in love with a rider of an opposing ward, an outsider who threatens the shaky balance of intrigue and influence that rules the land.
St. Martin's Griffin, May 2011
Available in Hardcover, Trade Paperback and Ebook
While this book started off a bit confusing--and only because I have just recently begun reading Italian historicals, so I wasn't familiar with the setting or traditions--it was thoroughly and quickly made sense of bny the author's ability to weave history, tradition and the fascinating Palio into her writing. The book begins at a fast pace, with a lot of emotion and suspense. We are drawn in and find an immediate connection if not empathy for the heroine, Pia.
I really liked several things that this author did with the book, which made it more unique and also hooked me into reading page after page. One, she had the book done from three point-of-views: Pia-the heroine; Riccardo-the hero; and Violante-a secondary heroine. Each POV was done well, and the reader will find themselves connected and invested in each character.
The plot carries so many twists and turns, you will be kept on the edge of your seat. Who will win the Palio? Who are the Nine? What is going to happen to Violante? Will Pia be killed by her husband? Will she ever find happiness with Riccardo? What about the horse?
And speaking of the horse... I really grew to love Leocorno, and well... I can't tell you or else I'll spoil it.
In the end, I was VERY satisfied with the way things turned out (minus Leocorno *sad face*).
I highly recommend The Daughter of Siena! The rich history was well written and researched, and the story itself was intriguing and entertaining. An intricate mystery, a touch of adventure, and a love that withstands life's twists and turns. I look forward to reading more of Ms. Fiorato's work in the future.