Category: YA and Adult Fiction, 288 pages
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Lake Street Press
Published: May 2015
Available in: Print only
Will send books: USA & Canada
Tour dates: July 13 to 31, 2015
Content Rating: PG + M (Alchemy’s Daughter is a tale of midwifery during the Middle Ages, so there are some childbirth scenes in the book. However, the scenes are not overly graphic, and there is no mention of specific body parts and there is no profanity (other than when a character says, “My God!”)Book Description:In medieval San Gimignano, Italy, daughters of merchants are expected to marry. But Santina Pietra cares only for Calandrino, a brilliant young scholar who is preoccupied with his ancient alchemical texts.
Soon Santina meets Trotula, the village midwife, who might or might not be a “strega,” a witch. Trotula challenges her to forget Calandrino and become the woman she is meant to be. Some say she is a victim of the midwife’s spell, but Santina is determined to follow in Trotula’s footsteps even as calamities strike.
This is a first time author for me. I am so glad I got to read this fabulous book.
I could not put this book down the characters are so well written it is like they come to life. You will keep turning the pages to find out what happens with them. The messages in the book will appeal to women and girls. The characters search for their callings in life, facing all odds and obstacles to pursue those callings. The lives of woman back in the 1300’s Italy is really fascinating. It was great to see Santina do something despite what her father thinks.
There is something for everyone here: romance, history, adventure and philosophy. You will not want to put this book down.
“Behind the Scenes of Alchemy’s Daughter with Award-winning Author and RN, Mary A. Osborne”
Q: The heroine of Alchemy’s Daughter loves a scholar who is more or less unavailable to her. Would you classify this book as romance?
A: Alchemy’s Daughter is a love story, but Santina’s love interest does skip town early on in the book. So she has to find a way to cope with her broken heart. She and Calandrino develop a sort of epistolary romance, and the forced separation leads Santina to discover her interest in midwifery.
Q: Calandrino is smart, devout, handsome, and unattainable. Is he based on anyone you know?
A: Like almost all those you will meet in my books, Calandrino is a composite character. An author friend of mine inspired the pious, scholarly side of Calandrino. A darker character in the book, Taddeo, is an exaggerated version of one or two men I’ve known in the past—the type of man who wants a woman merely as an accessory and who is threatened by a woman’s intelligence and independent spirit.
Q: When Santina isn’t thinking about Calandrino, she’s busy learning how to be a midwife. The childbirth scenes in your book seem very accurate and believeable. How did you research childbirth and midwifery during the Middle Ages?
A: Multiple books and online sources on medieval history as well as contemporary sources on childbirth informed Alchemy’s Daughter. In my research, I was surprised to learn that there is evidence for the Caesarean section being performed as far back as the tenth century in Persia!
Q: You are a registered nurse as well as a writer. Do you have experience in the field of midwifery?
A: Not really, although I did have the opportunity to observe a Caesarean operation during nursing school. I do think my training as a home care nurse is reflected in my understanding of the midwives’ work, however. During the Middle Ages, midwives often did more than assist with deliveries. In rural areas, especially, people depended on the herbal remedies and healing skills of midwives for all sorts of ailments.
Q: Why did you choose medieval Italy as the setting for your book?
A: I love all things Italian, and I became fascinated with the medieval time period. Science hadn’t explained away so many of life’s mysteries. Medieval Italians were superstitious and feared the “evil eye.” People felt influenced by unseen forces, and there was the hint of magic at work in the world, just as there is a hint of magic in Alchemy’s Daughter.
Meet the Author:Mary A. Osborne is the multiple award-winning author of Alchemy’s Daughter and Nonna’s Book of Mysteries. A graduate of Rush University and Knox College, where she was mentored in the Creative Writing Program, Ms. Osborne is a registered nurse and holds degrees in chemistry and nursing. Her freelance work has appeared in publications such as Hektoen International, Newcity, and the Examiner.com. Ms. Osborne lives in Chicago.
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