(find the judgment here)
The Daughter of Siena
by Marina Fiorato
*If I had done my original thing and tried to surmise the plot from the cover, I would have had it down pat. Everything about it was predictable; the back cover game it all away--you just had to read between the lines:
Girl is married off to evil boy.
Girl falls for pretty boy.
Pretty boy wants to win race for girl.
Girl evokes wrath of evil boy.
Evil boy loses anyway.Did I give anything away? Not really. I thought maybe the plot wouldn't matter; that with such a pretty cover, it would be gorgeous anyway. But, alas, it failed me. I wouldn't recommend it anyway. Not on any level. Because it really wasn't anything.
It wasn't historical fiction
No, there was a historical backdrop where Fiorato had her characters--some of them real--do whatever she wanted them to. I mean, she even had an apology at the back of the book for rewriting history to fit her story. And I may have been out of the historical-fiction loop for awhile, but I don't think that's how it traditionally goes. For all the drama, I don't feel like I learned anything honest about that time period. It all felt fake--like a Spanish soap opera (complete with a long-lost twin).
It wasn't romance.
It tried to be, but it wasn't. Again, Fiorato's characters did whatever she wanted them to. So all she could say about the main characters relationship was that they were "inexplicably drawn" to one another. Well said; it was inexplicable. All they could say about each other was that they were beautiful. That, my friends, is called LUST, not love. I mean, after they shared their first kiss (lame), the first thing he could say was "Lay with me." Ah, yes, those are the words I would give up anything and risk everything for.
And it wasn't even lovely about it.
Seriously, it got uncomfortable. Fast. There were near-rape scenes, constant abuse--self-afflicted and otherwise--and then, midway through, there was a sudden fascination with homosexuality. And it got graphic. I don't consider myself overly-sensitive, but the only way I got through the whole thing was by ripping out nearly 20 pages in the middle. That's right: I desecrated the most beautiful book I've ever seen. And it only sits on my bookshelf still because it is so pretty.
So, there. I'm just as shallow as the main characters.
But I suppose, in this case, the old adage is true: you can't judge a book by its cover. Because, if you could, I would have loved this book. It should have been my favorite. Just like Entwined. What cruel irony, then: my favorite covers, home to my least favorite books. Life really isn't fair.