Book Review: The Scribe of Siena, Melodie Winawer

The Scribe of SienaThe Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary: Equal parts transporting love story and gripping historical conspiracy—think The Girl with a Pearl Earring meets Outlander—debut author Melodie Winawer takes readers deep into medieval Italy, where the past and present blur and a twenty-first century woman will discover a plot to destroy Siena.

Accomplished neurosurgeon Beatrice Trovato knows that her deep empathy for her patients is starting to impede her work. So when her beloved brother passes away, she welcomes the unexpected trip to the Tuscan city of Siena to resolve his estate, even as she wrestles with grief. But as she delves deeper into her brother’s affairs, she discovers intrigue she never imagined—a 700-year-old conspiracy to decimate the city.

After uncovering the journal and paintings of Gabriele Accorsi, the fourteenth-century artist at the heart of the plot, Beatrice finds a startling image of her own face and is suddenly transported to the year 1347. She awakens in a Siena unfamiliar to her, one that will soon be hit by the Plague.

Yet when Beatrice meets Accorsi, something unexpected happens: she falls in love—not only with Gabriele, but also with the beauty and cadence of medieval life. As the Plague and the ruthless hands behind its trajectory threaten not only her survival but also Siena’s very existence, Beatrice must decide in which century she belongs.

The Scribe of Siena is the captivating story of a brilliant woman’s passionate affair with a time and a place that captures her in an impossibly romantic and dangerous trap—testing the strength of fate and the bonds of love.



That was actually quite good, once the plot picked up the pace. Rtc.


In his chamber the despair and horror of the day tore through Iacopo afresh. He lay upon the floor, weeping but without the damp solace of tears.*

The Scribe of Siena, once I got past about 30%, was actually seriously good. It took me about a month to move through the slow parts, but once I did, it got good fast.

The book starts off by introducing the main character, Beatrice, who is a neurosurgeon, as well as some of her friends and her background. Plot happens, she goes back in time…somehow, to the 1300s when the plague is about to hit Siena, more stuff happens, she falls in love, more stuff, there’s a lot of death, and the ending was neatly wrapped up.

The one thing I didn’t like about this book (other than the slow beginning) was the amount of questions it left me with. How was Beatrice really able to travel through time? What was with her ability to see into other people’s…feelings, I guess? How did she manage to land exactly where she needed to?

(No really, what was up with her powers?)

However, the plot was intriguing. I don’t read a lot of time travel books (though I plan to change that), but even though this concept wasn’t the most original, it was executed very well. The writing flowed well- it wasn’t too choppy, but it also wasn’t too flowery and poetic. All the characters felt pretty realistic and three dimensional, and none of them made me particularly angry with their stupid actions.

The reveal at the end also didn’t feel like it came out of nowhere, because looking back on it, it had been implied through the whole book. The way Iacopo was dealt with felt a little odd and probably could have been handled better, but it also fit the book.

I have to say, I totally called that twist in the middle. Of course, I didn’t know it immediately, but I totally called it.

4/5 stars, would recommend.

*quote taken from ARC.

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