A Golden Web
by Barbara Quick

Harper Teen, 2010. ISBN 978-0-061-44887-4.
Reviewed by Becca Taylor
Posted on 03/04/2010

Fiction: Historical; Teen/Girls

A Golden Web tells the inspiring story of Alessandra Giliani, a 14th Century Italian girl reputed to be the first female anatomist. Alessandra, like many young girls of her time, is expected to obey her elders, act a certain way, and submit to an advantageous marriage arranged by her family. Unlike her contemporaries, she has a keen intellect, curious mind, and fiery spirit. She recognizes the gift inherent in her intelligence and yearns to do more with her life than is expected of her.

Although Alessandra is surrounded by a doting father and loving siblings, her stepmother arranges to send her away to a convent for a year prior to her marriage. Alessandra manages to escape the convent and sets out on a daring adventure—pursuing her dream to become a scholar of medicine. Her path is filled with intrigue and danger, for during her time a woman who dares too much is often persecuted as a witch.

Barbara Quick has woven a wonderfully engaging imagining of Alessandra's life and times. The characters are rich and the settings beautifully detailed. I found myself immersed in Alessandra's world, eagerly anticipating how her story would unfold. Quick has created a lovely story that will inspire young and old women alike to pursue their dreams unapologetically.

Barbara Quick is the author of Vivaldi's Virgins and Northern Edge, winner of the Discover prize. A Golden Web is first book for teen readers. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit her website.

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