- Genre: Historical Fiction
- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
- Release Date: (May 10, 2011)
- Series: (none)
- Source: Amazon Vine Program
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.
Following on the heels of the popular (though somewhat waning) Tudor novels of intrigue and romance comes Daughter of Siena by Marina Fiorato, an enchanting new novel of romance and intrigue in 18th century Italy. In the midst of this year's trend toward everything Borgia, it's interesting to see a release that appears to be feeding off the trend while working hard to be something completely new and different on its own. Even with all of my previous notions about this novel and its likely contents, I found that Daughter of Siena was able to stand on its own as something unique and original in a sea of repetition.
The plot of Daughter of Siena is closely tied to the Palio, a famous horse race, and tradition, in the Tuscan city of Siena. During the 18th century, however, the city was separated into different wards, each with its own racer, its own agenda and its own loyalties. Young and beautiful Pia knows that she's destined to be married off to an eligible and, most importantly wealthy, bachelor of her parents' choosing. However, admit the intrigue of the Medici family of Tuscany and the wards of Siena, Pia falls in love with an outsider.
I suppose I had too many preconceived notions before I began Daughter of Siena. I thought I would get something more along the lines of The Borgias/intrigue and so forth, but even though there are Italian intrigues in this novel, it's more about a forbidden romance than anything else. Told in an enchanting and beautiful voice, Fiorato paints a realistic romance between a headstrong, lively young woman and a fascinating rogue that readers just want to cheer for.
Pia, however, is only one part of the novel, as the point of view occasionally shifts to that of Violante Medici, the current Duchess of Tuscany and a member of the notorious Medici family. Giving Violante a voice injected the novel an interesting and unexpected edge that upped the stakes.
Told in a well-researched voice that wove great historical detail, Daughter of Siena is a lovely historical romance made for history buffs and romance lovers alike.