Skip to main content

The Orphan of Florence by Jeanne Kalogridis: A Book Review



The Orphan of Florence
Author: Jeanne Kalogridis
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date: 2017
Pages: 336
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review
Synopsis: In this irresistible historical novel set in the turbulent world of the Medicis, a young woman finds herself driven from pick-pocketing to espionage when she meets a mysterious man.

     Giulia has been an orphan all her life. Raised in Florence's famous Ospedale degli Innocenti, her probing questions and insubordinate behavior made her an unwelcome presence, and at the age of fifteen, she was given an awful choice: become a nun, or be married off to a man she didn't love. She chose neither, and after refusing an elderly suitor, Giulia escaped onto the streets of Florence.


     Now, after spending two years as a successful pickpocket, an old man catches her about to make off with his purse, and rather than having her carted off to prison he offers her a business proposition. The man claims to be a cabalist, a student of Jewish mysticism and ritual magic, who works for the most powerful families in Florence. But his identity is secret―he is known only as "the Magician of Florence"―and he is in need of an assistant. She accepts the job and begins smuggling his talismans throughout the city.


     But the talismans are not what they seem, and neither is the Magician. When Giulia's involvement with him ends with his murder, she's drawn into a treacherous web of espionage and deceit involving the forces of Rome, Naples, and a man known as Lorenzo the Magnificent. Accused of the Magician's murder, Giulia is pursued by the handsome policeman Niccolo, Lorenzo's henchmen, and foreign spies, and in order to survive, she must not only solve the mystery of the mystery of the Magician's murder, but that of her own past.


     My Review: Giulia is an orphan of Florence. Her only choice as a woman of Florence is to marry or become a nun. Giulia believes that neither option works for her. So, she cuts her hair, dresses as a man, and becomes a thief to make a living. When she is caught red-handed pickpocketing a magician, Giulia is forced to become the magician’s apprentice. Giulia learns that the magician is more than what he seems to be. Soon, she finds herself in the midst of murder, secrets, magic, and conspiracies. Florence has turned into a dangerous playground of violence. Can Giulia survive the dark underground of Florence and save her city?

   Giulia was a very fun character. I liked her immediately. She reminded me of Katniss Everdeen. She is feisty, stubborn, and a bit sarcastic at times. I also like how she was very loyal to her city and was willing to risk her life to save it. I loved Giulia’s father-daughter relationship with the magician. At first, she distrusts him. However, she realizes the magician’s kindness and learns to care for him as a father. When he is murdered, he is still Giulia’s ray of light in the darkness. He gives her the hope to carry on and survive. Therefore, the relationship between Giulia and the magician was very touching and plays a crucial part in this novel.

Overall, The Orphan of Florence is about love, trust, and believing. Even though the romance was not fully developed in the novel, the characters were realistic and all played an important role in the story. The ending was a bit rushed, but I enjoyed the novel so much that I hope there is a sequel. I thought that because of Giulia’s age and voice, The Orphan of Florence would have worked better as a teen book rather than adult fiction. Still, this novel is a fast-paced fantastical adventure that is full of mystery, suspense, and action! It sucks you in from the very first sentence and is unwilling to let you go even after you have read the last page! I have Mrs. Kalogridis’s novels and loved them. I, Mona Lisa is one of my favorite novels of all time, and this latest work by Mrs. Kalogridis proves that she is still one of the queens of historical fiction! Bravissima!

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki: A Book Review

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post Author: Allison Pataki Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Ballantine Release Date: February 15, 2022 Pages: 381 Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: Mrs. Post, the President and First Lady are here to see you. . . . So begins another average evening for Marjorie Merriweather Post. Presidents have come and gone, but she has hosted them all. Growing up in the modest farmlands of Battle Creek, Michigan, Marjorie was inspired by a few simple rules: always think for yourself, never take success for granted, and work hard—even when deemed American royalty, even while covered in imperial diamonds. Marjorie had an insatiable drive to live and love and to give more than she got. From crawling through Moscow warehouses to rescue the Tsar’s treasures to outrunning the Nazis in London, from serving the homeless of the Great Depression to entertaining Roosevelts, Kennedys, and Hollywood’s biggest stars, Marjorie Merriweath

Tituba: The Intentional Witch of Salem by Dave Tamanini: A Book Review

Tituba: The Intentional Witch of Salem Author: Dave Tamanini Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy Publisher: David F Tamanini Release Date: 2020 Pages: 317 Source: Publisher/Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: If you love historical fiction... come revisit Salem's terror in this provocative new telling of enslaved Tituba, no longer a caricature, but a fully human woman with magical powers.      Come! Let Tituba cast its spell with a unique and tantalizing tale that explores the wild emotions driving accusations of witchcraft in 1692.      A Promise and a Hope      Enslaved Tituba has been faithful to a promise to her dying mama in Africa. She has appeased the masters from Barbados to Boston to Salem and waited for her magic.      A Mother’s Agony      When Tituba’s only son dies trying to escape slavery, her life changes forever. After enduring the crush only a mother can feel, she rages and turns to vengeance.      Witches Tear into Salem      The villagers see wi

Blog Tour: Marie Antoinette’s World: Intrigue, Infidelity, And Adultery In Versailles by Will Bashor

Marie Antoinette’s World: Intrigue, Infidelity, And Adultery In Versailles [history/biographical nonfiction] Release date: June 15, 2020 Postponed due to Covid-19: July 30, 2020 at Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Hardcover and ebook, 320 pages Author’s page | Goodreads SYNOPSIS Synopsis: This riveting book explores the little-known intimate life of Marie Antoinette and her milieu in a world filled with intrigue, infidelity, adultery, and sexually transmitted diseases. Will Bashor reveals the intrigue and debauchery of the Bourbon kings from Louis XIII to Louis XV, which were closely intertwined with the expansion of Versailles from a simple hunting lodge to a luxurious and intricately ordered palace. It soon became a retreat for scandalous conspiracies and rendezvous—all hidden from the public eye.       When Marie Antoinette arrived, she was quickly drawn into a true viper’s nest, encouraged by her imprudent entourage. Bashor shows that her often thoughtless, fantas