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The Sign of the Weeping Virgin Hardcover – Jan 9 2013

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Five Star; 1 edition (Jan. 9 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1432826239
  • ISBN-13: 978-1432826239
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 522 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,363,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 15 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Wit and grace abound in this enjoyable novel Jan. 29 2013
By Mike Coleman - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Critics are praising Alana White's elegant prose and her skill in weaving a vast amount of historical detail into the plot of this fascinating mystery novel set in Renaissance Florence. I heartily concur, but also must note the considerable wit at work in the book--one of the many qualities that make it such an enjoyable reading experience.

It comes through in dialogue: "God, I've died and gone to heaven," her protagonist Guid'Antonio Vespucci says over a meal of roast pork and fried ravioli. "No, you've come home to Italy," remarks the man's nephew. It comes through in White's cleverly drawn minor characters, especially the all-knowing, sardonic Cesare, Guid'Antonio's manservant. And it comes through in the way White archly points out the parallels between 15th-century Florentine society and our own--the religious zealots whipping the masses into a frenzy of fear and misdirected blame, the deep divide between the haves and have-nots, the very character of Guid'Antonio, as full of angst, including the marital variety, as any male protagonist in contemporary fiction.

I found myself taking an odd sort of comfort in these parallels--the more things change, right? But they also helped deepen my connection to the story, the characters and their way of life so exotic, so different in so many ways from our own.

White takes us everywhere we've ever fantasized about in Renaissance Florence--an upper-class dining room serving up specialties of a fabulous cook, the studiolo of Lorenzo de Medici (where il Magnifico himself is holding forth), even the elegant apartment where Botticelli's Primavera holds pride of place in its original setting, framed and hanging over a daybed. Can you imagine being part of this culture, where so much art was springing up all around you every day? Where you could meet Michelangelo as a resolute little boy holding his father's hand in the marketplace? Where you could share in the suspense among Italians as to which artist would actually be chosen to decorate the Sistine Chapel?

White feeds all the fantasies, and teaches us a great deal about Italian history along the way. I also love the unique mystery that drives the plot. It's not a mere murderer her sleuth Guid'Antonio is trying to catch. No, he must save all of Florence. And that is a cause any lover of the City of Flowers can cheer for.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Very historically detailed mystery Feb. 18 2013
By Erin Al-Mehairi - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The Sign of the Weeping Virgin, by Alana White, is a new novel that brings to life Italian history, specifically in Florence, much of which I had no prior knowledge. Italian history not being one I'm quite as well read or educated on, this book's through research and information circled with a fictional mystery was very enlightening and descriptive.

Most people who enjoy history have heard of Amerigo Vespucci. His uncle was Guid Antonio Vespucci, a lawyer in Florence during the early 1400s, a time when the arts were flourishing and the Medici family was in power. The Vespucci family was also a major family influence in the area and Guid Antonio supported the Medicis and had a close friendship with Lorenzo de Medici, or Lorenzo the Magnificent. This was a time and place ripe with intrigue, political maneuvering, and families sparring for position. White utilizes all this in her book, mixed with the Renaissance players such as artists Sandro Botticelli and Leonardo Da Vinci, while also delighting readers with savory details of lavish meals, affairs, and controversies.

As a protagonist, Guid Antonio was interesting and his conversational thoughts unique. He was at all times seemingly confused, yet also extremely intelligent. Pious, yet also flawed. This made him quite the original detective and his dialogue with supporting characters, like his nephew Amerigo, carried subtle nuances and light humor.

The best part of this book was White's revelatory research and historical presence. Due to this her characters were well detailed and very human. We come to know their passions and vices, their secrets and faults, as well as their documented successes and legacies. It wasn't a fast-paced thriller, but more of an educated and historically detailed mystery.

I am an art history buff, so I really enjoyed the introduction of the major artists of this time and as always, enjoy a good conspiracy where paintings and clues are involved.

I look forward to the next book in White's series of Guid Antonio Vespucci historical mysteries. I highly recommend this book if you love braintwisters that are history-heavy prose combined with beautiful descriptive detail and interesting detective work set in one of the best-loved eras-the Italian Renaissance.
Well written with a great historical background Dec 21 2014
By Linda Thorne - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
I don't read enough historical novels and it shows when I do. The last one I read was Dark Fire by C.J. Sansom. That was historical, but in England, where I know a little more of the history. I know so little about Italian history and most of the cities and history and events in Alana White's book were new to me. I would think this would be a 5-star review from anyone who really enjoys Renaissance Italy. I found her writing to be outstanding, which can't always be said about an author's debut novel. The dialogue stayed true to the period and I felt I was back in that time. Keeping up with the many characters and similar names was a challenge, but those were how the names were back then.
I would certainly recommend this to anyone interested in Renaissance Italy. I liked Guid' Antonio Vespucci and found myself rooting for him. The ending was a good one and wrapped up the book well. Good job.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A Stunning Historical Debut Jan. 9 2013
By Lynette E. Ingram - Published on
Format: Hardcover
In her impressive historical novel, The Sign of the Weeping Virgin, Alana White reprises Florence in the 15th Century through her protagonist, Guid' Antonio Vespucci. As the novel opens, Guid Antonio, accompanied by his nephew Amerigo, has returned to Florence after a diplomatic assignment in France.
A respected lawyer and trusted friend of Florence's most prominent citizen, Lorenz di Medici, Guid' Antonio finds some disturbing changes in the city he loves. The city's depleted treasury has created a number of desperately poor citizens. A young woman has disappeared, supposedly abducted by the Turks and sold into slavery. Even more baffling, the painting of the Virgin Mary in the Vespucci family church has begun to weep. This phenomenon is seen by superstitious Florentines as a sign that the city is cursed by God because Lorenzo di Medici refuses to end his war with Pope. As a "Medici man," Guid' Antonio must deal with new and as yet, unidentified enemies: "Whatever the circumstances, Florence, Lorenzo, and Guid'Antonio, the Medicis and the Vespuccis, were one and the same."
As Guid'Antonio and Amerigo set out to unravel these mysteries, they are beset by rumors and whispers, as well as political turmoil which escalates as the Turkish king moves to expand his Islamic empire and the Pope surreptitiously acquires a large tract of land too close to Florence.
In Guid' Antonio Vespucci, Alana White has created an intelligent, compelling protagonist who invites further development in subsequent novels. However, the center of this historical mystery is Renaissance Florence, a vibrant presence painted by the writer in rich lights and shadows, much like the paintings of Sandro Botticelli and Leonardo da Vinci, both of whom appear as characters in the book. From the well-crafted suspense through the political machinations to the domestic details of the Florentines' households, White has painted a luminous and textured portrait of Florence that lingers in the reader's mind long after the novel has ended.
'it's me, honestly, not you' June 30 2014
By Cate's Book Nut Hut - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
This is this Authors debut novel in the realm of historical fiction and, as much as I enjoy good historical fiction, I just couldn’t get into this one at all. I think it was a case of the classic line ‘it’s me, honestly, not you’.

To say the cast of characters in this book is immense would be an under-statement, and I felt at times it would have helped me along in my reading if there had been a character list printed in the front of the book; I have a sneaky feeling that many other readers who pick up this book may feel the same way too. Although none of the characters stand out in the book, they are interesting to say the least, and the main protagonist is very interesting; he is cranky, complicated, lonely and extremely loyal; all traits which seemed at odds to the world in which he was living, a world where loyalty seemed to be as fleeting as the wind.

Despite the indication in the synopsis that this may have edged into the realms of a genre I never read, I found there to be little to no romance in this book; there is no love in the traditional sense of the word and no homoerotic longings as can often take place in a novel of this kind. What there is however is political intrigue by the boatload, and this made the book a compelling read and was, for me, the saving grace that earned the rating of 3 thumbs as opposed to it being lower.

It is obvious that the Author has done a lot of research into this era in Florence’s history, and I found this interesting and educating as I did not know about some of the historical details touched upon in the novel. I felt this was helped by the fact that the main protagonist was actually a real-life figure in these times, and this added more realism to the descriptions used and the events encountered in the book.

I would recommend this book to lovers of historical fiction but particularly those who like a good solid mystery that is full of political intrigue.

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