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.