The Scribe of Siena by Melodie Winawer
Wow. Well, where do I start? If you like time travel stories, and I do, if you like reading about medieval times, and I do, if you are interested in anything about The Plague, and I am, then truly, this book had only to prove itself a bad choice because it didn’t deliver. But, oh, it does, it does deliver.
Beatrice Trovato and her brother Ben are both in the medical field. Beatrice is a neurosurgeon who can immerse herself so deeply in her patients she can read their thoughts, while Ben is a medieval Plague scholar living in Siena, Italy. When Beatrice finds that she is too tangled in the brain ganglia of her patients, she decides to finally visit her brother. Before she can arrive, by mere days, Ben dies and leaves his research and home to Beatrice. While looking through Ben’s research Beatrice finds he was trying to unravel a conspiracy that could explain why Siena was particularly hard hit by and never fully recovered from the Plague.
In the journal of 14th century artist Gabriele Accorsi, Beatrice finds a portal to medieval Siena and just months before the Plague arrives she lands there. With what little knowledge she gathered before her ‘trip’ and with Accorsi’s journal, Beatrice finds herself in the middle of the conspiracy Ben was investigating, and while Ben’s research was through ancient documents, hers is first hand. Other than the lack of toilet paper, Beatrice falls in love with medieval life, and with Accorsi. The Plague fast on their heels, Beatrice finds herself torn between life in medieval Siena or in her own time. The question for her is, when is her own time?
I only questioned to myself the time altering decisions Beatrice made. If she had not been there, what would have happened to these people. Because she was there what was she changing? As I kept reading these questions were answered. I wasn’t disappointed.
This story wasn’t easy, it was dense, complicated, layered, well researched and smart.