Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Shepherdess of Siena by Linda Lafferty

Raised by her aunt and uncle amidst the rolling hills of the Tuscan countryside, young orphan Virginia Tacci has always harbored a deep love for horses—though she knows she may never have the chance to ride. As a shepherdess in sixteenth-century Italy, Virginia’s possibilities are doubly limited by her peasant class and her gender. Yet while she tends her flock, Virginia is captivated by the daring equestrian feats of the high-spirited Isabella de’ Medici, who rides with the strength and courage of any man, much to the horror of her brother, the tyrannical Gran Duca Francesco de’ Medici.
Inspired, the young shepherdess keeps one dream close to her heart: to race in Siena’s Palio. Twenty-six years after Florence captured Siena, Virginia’s defiance will rally the broken spirit of the Senese people and threaten the pernicious reign of the Gran Duca. Bringing alive the rich history of one of Tuscany’s most famed cities, this lush, captivating saga draws an illuminating portrait of one girl with an unbreakable spirit.

Author Linda Lafferty propels readers into the Italian Renaissance in the Tuscany Region. It is an epic saga and adventure, a wonderfully rich and complex story with many layers and fascinating characters. 

The story surrounds a young, innocent shepherdess who develops a strong fondness for horses and an uncanny ability to understand them. The tale sweeps us into the heart of Tuscany and allows readers to get to know the royals of the era along with members of the Medici family.

The author has done a great deal of research into the era, especially concerning the popular sport, the Palio. She gives us a glimpse into the competitivemess, the politics, the training, and the passion of this equestrians port that is still played today!

There are plenty of twists and turns, and even though there is no terribly strong romance, there is a love connection. From the hills of Tuscany, to the streets of Siena, to the hidden abbey's and convents scattered throughout the area, this is one story that kept me spell bound to the very end. Betrayal, murder, kidnapping, love, and much, much more, fill every page. Definitely a tale for the horse lover in all of us.

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