Blog Book Tour | “Alchemy’s Daughter” by Mary A. Osborne

Posted Thursday, 30 July, 2015 by jorielov , , 1 Comment

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By: I was selected to be a part of the blog tour for “Alchemy’s Daughter” hosted by Italy Book Tours. Although I recently started to host for iRead Book Tours, this is my first tour with the Italian side of this duo book touring company! I received a complimentary copy of “Alchemy’s Daughter” direct from the publisher Lake Street Press in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Switching from France to Italy:

When I was first approached to host for iRead Book Tours, and their sister hosting services via Italy Book Tours, something inside me was quite keen on the idea to start reading stories set in Italy as I have been spending nearly two full years residing in the historical past of France! I love learning about different cultural traditions inasmuch as I like the angling of insight into my own heritage but sometimes I find that if I switch up the locales a bit, exchange one country for another, it keeps everything quite fresh and invigorating! Therefore, imagine my sweet surprise in finding I can start to tuck inside novels set in Italy and continue to time travel through history!?

I was quite happy to discover inside my ARC copy of this YA Historical a lovely bookmark from the publisher! Quite a keen surprise to discover and I can assure you it was used as I read the book! I love finding bookmarks in the pages of a book I am reviewing; as I am definitely a book blogger who can NEVER have too many! Laughs with mirth. Perhaps you feel the same!? Does your bookshelf have a lot of current reads and must-get-those-soon reads begging for your attention? Do you pick out bookmarks to compliment your reading queue whilst finding each book to be read has a bookmark, which leaves you a bit curious to find one to use with the current book in hand? Thus, you can see how lovely it was indeed for me to pull out a bookmark from a book I was reading as I blog my review! Quite champion of Lake Street Press!

Blog Book Tour | “Alchemy’s Daughter” by Mary A. OsborneAlchemy's Daughter
by Mary A. Osborne
Source: Publisher via Italy Book Tours

In medieval San Gimignano, Italy, daughters of merchants are expected to marry. But Santina Pietra cares only for Calandrino, a brilliant young scholar who is preoccupied with his ancient alchemical texts.

Soon Santina meets Trotula, the village midwife, who might or might not be a "strega," a witch. Trotula challenges her to forget Calandrino and become the woman she is meant to be. Some say she is a victim of the midwife’s spell, but Santina is determined to follow in Trotula’s footsteps even as calamities strike.

Places to find the book:

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Genres: Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction, Midwife | Midwifery, Young Adult Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction, Spirituality & Metaphysics, Women's Studies


Published by Lake Street Press

on 14th May, 2015

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 288

Published By: Lake Street Press (@LakeStreetPress),
Available Formats: Trade Paperback only

NOTE: Alchemy’s Daughter is the PREQUEL to Nonna’s Book of Mysteries

Read more about the 1st Novel in the series

I opted to read the PREQUEL ahead of the first novel!

About Mary A. Osborne

Mary A. Osborne

Mary A. Osborne is the multiple award-winning author of Alchemy's Daughter and Nonna’s Book of Mysteries. A graduate of Rush University and Knox College, where she was mentored in the Creative Writing Program, Ms. Osborne is a registered nurse and holds degrees in chemistry and nursing.

Her freelance work has appeared in publications such as Hektoen International, Newcity, and the Examiner.com. Ms. Osborne lives in Chicago.

Feeling tucked inside a Medieval midwife’s life:

The timeline of data on both medical history of evolving procedures and women’s health was a strong find to be included in an ARC as sometimes finished copies and ARCs differ a bit on what is included. I found it most fascinating that a C-Section was first attributed in reference to a timescape of 977-1010! Talk about a very long history of difficult births! The maps are also included and point to include a portrait of the timeline with the layout of the areas this novel intends to develop visually as we read the story. I like seeing maps of the past, as they speak to how things were laid out and how different life was approached on a smaller scale of both population and living space within townes and city centers.

Osborne not only has a tender hand for research, but also, for stitching us inside the innermost thoughts of a young girl on the cusp of womanhood who is trying to define herself not only to her own clarity of who she is vs the role in which she is meant to take-on in her family; but to re-affirm her place in the world. Osborne has a certain style of compelling you forward through her story, where you alight inside a chapter quite far back in history and time, but very much alive with modern arguments and the uncertainties of understanding which path you are meant to pursue.

There is a full scope of medical science and the limitations of midwives woven into the context of Alchemy’s Daughter to such a level of realistic revelation that you will not want for a lack of disclosure! The fullness of how Osborne brings you up to speed on what was allowed to be practiced and what was forbidden shows a true understanding of how medicine and science were at odds with religion; there was a thin line of separation especially during the Renaissance years where if a person was medically aided during a life/death emergency, the person who helped to save them was severely scrutinized if not persecuted, which is explored in this novel at full extent.

My Review of Alchemy’s Daughter:

Santina, Lauretta, and Isabella are three sisters who do not see eye to eye on how a woman should lead her life but they are sisters who are bonded to each other all the same. Santina is the middle child, whose spirit of learning and taking on knowledge from books and experiences trumps her pursuit of a match in marriage whereas her young sister Isabella has a suitor, though is too young to encourage him. Lauretta is the rock solid sister who wants everyone to be happy, contented, and successfully well-suited into their life now that their mother has long since passed. Level-headed and task oriented, Lauretta I would think would be either a strong confidente to Santina or one who will buck her every inch of her journey to define her own path to follow.

Calandrino is Santina’s fair beau of her heart – taken up by his charming personality and his keen insight into both philosophical intrigues of the past which harbour secrets inside understanding alchemy as both a resource and a tool of science; Santina cannot help herself to become drawn to Calandrino. He provides her with an elixir to her thirst for knowledge; his tutoring encourages her to think on things that girls of her time would not necessarily have at their disposal. Thus Santina has found a way to break free of her discourse of a known path and pick up a thread of a newfound joy towards seeking a way to use her mind and her heart in unison.

Tragic young love can form a wedge in one’s spirit when an alignment of passion is displaced but in Santina’s case, the separation of love from her life sparkled a new path for her to walk she hadn’t even considered previously. By happenstance, Santina catches a secret about her mother via the local midwife Trotula who encourages her to listen not only to her conscience but to listen to her spirit and the grace of inspiration she’s being given to understand her true calling life to pursue. There is a beautiful eclipse of narrative in this middle section where Osborne philosophises about how short our view can be as humans and how bigger our world can expand when we allow grace to live through us rather than to try to circumvent the gifts we are being given to acknowledge.

I especially was captured by the manner in which the missives were written, as Santina was such a fierce correspondent in allowing her thoughts to ink out into letters. The style in which correspondences were given during her time were quite a bit more formal than the ones letter writers send to each other today. There is an urgency of being precise in your words and a dedication to clarifying what your writing about in case the receiver has any doubts towards where your conscience lies in giving the information.

There is such a strong life lesson etched into Alchemy’s Daughter and a harrowing account of how heresy and public opinion on medical science can distort the truth. The plot thickens to an apex of emotional angst and anguish, where Santina has to decide for herself if she is not only willing but strong enough to stand for what she knows is right and just. This is a novel that gives the reader quite a bit to chew on whilst allowing us a portal of a window back to a time where everyone was quick to judge and quick to question what could not be explained without complication.

The religious history and the background on why what is happening in the novel is paramount of importance to the church and way of life during Santina’s time of living was expertly handed by Osborne. This young adult historical novel seeks to inform and inspire readings which extend out from it’s own core of heart; as I found this novel to fall under the INSPY umbrella as much as the mainstream one! I found it quite refreshing to have an Inspirational center core where faith and strength of character work together to give further insight into the plight of Santina. She was caught between faith, truth, and the accusations of her neighbours and the church itself. This is a good reference to chart women’s rights and the right of women to choose their health care and medical options as a counter-balance to where women’s rights stand today.

On the historic styling of Mary A. Osborne:

I truly loved how Osborne created this back-story within only a handful of pages into the novel itself, to root you not only to the page your reading but into the setting of the story! I love how she played off a few well-known theories (i.e. the philosopher’s stone; gift of immortality) but augmented them into the backdrop of where Santina and her narrative are centered. She inserts a bit of Italian words and phrases to become reminiscent of ‘where’ we are without being too heavy handed on the language and opting instead for giving us the full essence of Tuscany.

Tuscany is a natural setting for this story I believe, because it’s a place where a few of us have found to have a longing zeal to visit and thereby provides a place for our mind to yearn to learn a bit more about. I like the heartiness of the area too, from farmers to midwives to self-starters in capitalism or industry who make it on their own terms. It’s a keen place to host alchemists and herbalists and all manners of alternative or natural medicine disciplines because of the presence of people who cherish being able to live and thrive off the land.

Osborne knits you inside this world so wholly true to it’s form, you do not even notice how time dissolves whilst your eyes are drinking in her words! I truly appreciated her dedication to creating a niche of Medieval Italian life and how she gave her characters a grounding of being within her story. You felt quite close to Santina and her sisters, whilst feeling a bit of empathy for the era in which they lived as well. Things were not as free as they are by modern standards, and simple innocence of attraction can have ramifications in regards to how perception and reality were viewed.

I most definitely want to re-read Alchemy’s Daughter,
as I am able to continue this series of stories by reading:
Nonna’s Book of Mysteries.
They are inspiring stories for women with such a lovely breadth of spirit!

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This book review is courtesy of: Italy Book Tours

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I look forward to hearing your reactions if you’ve read this novel too

and/or if your curiosity had become piqued to read it after reading my own ruminations!

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{SOURCES: Cover art of “Alchemy’s Daughter”, book synopsis, author photograph of Mary A. Osborne, author biography and the tour badge were all provided by Italy Book Tours and used with permission. Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin. Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva. Tweets embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination.}

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all. "I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story) more >> | Hire me as a betareader | Policies & Review Requests

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • 2015 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge
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Posted Thursday, 30 July, 2015 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 14th Century, Ancient Egypt, Apothecary, ARC | Galley Copy, Balance of Faith whilst Living, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Bookmark slipped inside a Review Book, Catholicism, Christianity, Coming-Of Age, Epistolary Novel | Non-Fiction, Father-Daughter Relationships, Herbalist, Historical Fiction, History, Indie Author, Inspirational Fiction & Non-Fiction, INSPY Realistic Fiction | Non-Fiction, Italy, Italy Book Tours, Late Middle Ages (1300-1500), Life Shift, Literature of Italy, Medical Fiction, Midwife | Midwifery, Midwives & Childbirth, Naturopathic Medicine, Passionate Researcher, Philosophical Intuitiveness, Philosophy, Political Narrative & Modern Topics, Religious History, Single Fathers, Spirituality & Metaphysics, Superstitions & Old World Beliefs, the Renaissance (14th-17th Centuries), Women's Fiction, Women's Health, Women's Right to Choose (Health Care Rights), Women's Rights, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage, World Religions, Young Adult Fiction

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One response to “Blog Book Tour | “Alchemy’s Daughter” by Mary A. Osborne

  1. Andrea ( aka rokinrev)

    This is one of those books that keeps popping up and I am about to put into my TBR library queue. It just sounds….delicious

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