Thursday, April 24, 2014

G303 Book Review of The Towers of Tuscany by Carol M Cram

Name of Book: The Towers of Tuscany

Author: Carol M. Cram

ISBN: 9780981024110

Publisher: New Arcadia Publishing

Type of book: Italy, Tuscany, art, painting, passion vs society, women's role, black plague, disguising self, escaping, 1338-1340s or 1350s?

Year it was published: 2014


Set amid the twisting streets and sunlit piazzas of medieval Italy, the Towers of Tuscany tells the story of a woman who dares to follow her own path in the all-male domain of the painter's workshop. Sofia Barducci is born into a world where a woman is only as good as the man who cares for her, but she still claims the right to make her own mistakes. Her first mistake is convincing her father to let her marry Giorgio Carelli, a wealthy saffron merchant in San Gimignano, the Tuscan city of towers. Trained in secret by her father to create the beautifully-crafted panels and altarpieces acclaimed today as masterpieces of late medieval art, Sofia's desire for freedom from her father's workshop leads her to betray her passion and sink into a life of loveless drudgery with a husband who comes to despise her when she does not produce a son.

In an attack motivated by vendetta, Sofia's father is crushed by his own fresco, compelling Sofia to act or risk the death of her soul. The choice she makes takes her on a journey from misery to the heights of passion-both as a painter and as a woman. Sofia escapes to Siena where, disguised as a boy, she paints again. When her work attracts the notice of a nobleman who discovers the woman under the dirty smock, Sofia is faced with a choice that nearly destroys her.

The Towers of Tuscany unites a strong heroine with meticulously researched settings and compelling characters drawn from the rich tapestry of medieval Italy during one of Europe's most turbulent centuries. The stylishly written plot is packed with enough twists and turns to keep readers up long past their bedtimes.


The main character would be Sofia who is best described as stubborn, caught up in a male and female world, and she is determined to follow her passions. She does make mistakes and choices that aren't good for her, but one can easily relate to her. There is of course Sofia's father who longed for a son, but instead teacher Sofia lessons of life through art and who wanted for her to be happy and understood. Sofia's husband used to love her and was passionate for her, but then the relationship soured and he doesn't really understand her. Salvini the son becomes Sofia's crush and both enjoy banter and comedy who enjoys Sofia for who she is. Francesco is Sofia's protector and loves her a great deal. My favorite character happened to be Francesco and I would have liked for him to be more prominent in the book.


Sacrifices and choices are a double-edged sword


Its written in third person narrative from Sofia's point of view. I have to say that I really enjoyed reading it due to writing style which makes it easy to forget how many pages you have read. I seriously jumped in and floated along for the ride. The chapters are on a long side, but I didn't pay attention to that. There are also sections where Sofia remembers her father's lessons and how they apply to her current life. Just to let you know, they are there throughout the whole book.

Author Information:
Carol M. Cram has enjoyed a great career as an educator, teaching at Capilano University in North Vancouver for over twenty years and authoring forty-plus bestselling textbooks on business communications and software applications. She holds an MA in Drama from the University of Toronto and an MBA from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland. Carol is currently focusing as much of her attention as she can spare between walks in the woods on writing historical novels with an arts twist.
She and her husband, painter Gregg Simpson, share a life on beautiful Bowen Island near Vancouver, Canada.

Author Links


This book is a prime example of not judging it by its cover or summary. When I looked at the cover and read the summary, I seriously thought it would be a romantic comedy. So its a big risk to pull off. However, the book is much more than that. First of all, it's not a romantic comedy, but its a tale of Sofia who desires to follow her passions and express herself through painting in a time and place where women weren't given any choices. Despite being misled, I sympathized and understood Sofia and her actions, and I also felt really bad for her. Imagine being forbidden from doing a hobby or something you love simply because its more of a man's world rather than a woman's. That person will wither and die. I also enjoyed learning how the colors were mixed and painting techniques that Sofia uses to paint various pictures as well as life in 14th century in Italy.

Buy the Book

Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, April 14
Review at Historical Novel Reviews
Tuesday, April 15
Review & Giveaway at Kinx’s Book Nook
Wednesday, April 16
Spotlight & Giveaway at Passages to the Past
Thursday, April 17
Review at Book Lovers Paradise
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages
Friday, April 18
Review at A Chick Who Reads
Guest Post & Giveaway at Just One More Chapter
Monday, April 21
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Excerpt & Giveaway at So Many Precious Books, So Little Time
Tuesday, April 22
Review at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Guest Post at Kincavel Korner
Wednesday, April 23
Review at Flashlight Commentary
Interview at Oh, for the Hook of a Book
Thursday, April 24
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Interview at Flashlight Commentary
Friday, April 25
Review & Giveaway at Words and Peace

This is for Historical Fiction Virtual Book

4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)

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