Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dante's Daughter, by Kimberley Heuston

In 14th century Florence, Antonia faces a life of few options. Her situation is made more difficult by the dangerous politicking of her famous father. But in an extraordinary turn of events, she follows her Dad to Paris and then back to Italy, discovering that even if her life options are narrow, that people can make a lot of those options. Along the way, we learn a lot about life in those times, making this both an educational and entertaining read. We also come to understand how happiness is possible under what seem like dire circumstances.

As remarkable of a book as Heuston's earlier Shakeress, this novel benefits from a more colorful era and location, but suffers from being tied to people and events that are more famous. Still, Heuston manages to weave magic out of history and make it seem like less of a lesson than a true coming of age story. She avoids the temptation to give her characters anachronistic modernistic notions about individualism and instead creates characters who are both true to period faith yet identifiably human. This is certainly among the best historical YA literature being created.

1 comment:

kimheuston said...

Thanks, Paul.
I just found this review this morning. I know that my books don't belong to me anymore once I publish them. They become each reader's. But it's still nice to know that at least one of the readers interprets the story the same way I do.