Au­thor’s de­but novel is cap­ti­vat­ing with love story that bat­tles time, fate

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“The Scribe of Siena” Melodie Wi­nawer Touch­stone, $26.99 When Beatrice Trovato’s brother dies un­ex­pect­edly, the ac­com­plished neu­ro­sur­geon takes a leave of ab­sence to set­tle his af­fairs. Trav­el­ing to Siena proves a wel­come dis­trac­tion from the hus­tle and bus­tle of home, and Italy is the per­fect place to deal with her grief. De­but au­thor Melodie Wi­nawer pro­vides Beatrice a lit­tle more than she bar­gains for in “The Scribe of Siena.” Beatrice is de­ter­mined to fin­ish her brother’s re­search sur­round­ing a 700-year-old con­spir­acy the­ory con­cern­ing me­dieval Siena. Por­ing over her brother’s notes, jour­nals and paint­ings of a 14th-cen­tury painter named Gabriele Ac­corsi, Beatrice is shocked to see a fa­mil­iar face star­ing back — her own.

She gets lost in the Ac­corsi jour­nal and be­comes fas­ci­nated with his life. She also gets lost in his time­line. Af­ter an emo­tional day, Beatrice finds her­self mirac­u­lously trans­ported to 1347 Siena. Hav­ing the his­tor­i­cal knowl­edge from the Ac­corsi jour­nal, Beatrice is able to some­what blend into her sur­round­ings. Thanks to her abil­ity to read and write, she man­ages to ac­quire a job as a scribe in the build­ing where Ac­corsi is work­ing on his next project.

It’s love at first sight. Gabriele and Beatrice are drawn to each other in a su­per­nat­u­ral way. Beatrice con­fides in Gabriele, ex­plain­ing that she’s from the fu­ture and that life as he knows it is about to change un­less they join forces. An evil no­ble­man is de­ter­mined to wipe out Siena — and Gabriele — in order to vin­di­cate his fa­mous fa­ther’s death. Should Gabriele and Beatrice man­age to stop him, they still have some­thing worse pend­ing in the spring: The Plague is com­ing.

If you liked “Out­lander” you will en­joy “The Scribe of Siena.” Wi­nawer’s physi­cian back­ground per­me­ates the book, of­fer­ing in­ter­est­ing med­i­cal de­tails through­out the story. She paints a cap­ti­vat­ing story of time and place vol­ley­ing with fate and love.

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