Life for women in medieval Italy did not offer many choices, and girls who didn’t conform were looked upon with suspicion. So when seventeen-year-old Santina leaves her comfortable life to live with and learn from the local midwife, some say witchcraft influenced her. But Santina wishes to follow her heart, which means rejecting marriage to a local merchant. After the women perform a risky medical procedure, their own lives are in danger. Santina will have to delve deep inside herself to find a way out.
Alchemy’s Daughter by Mary A. Osborne is great historical fiction for teens. Covering topics such as the roles of women, practices of midwifery, the place for love and romance, as well as the plague of 1348, it provides a fascinating glimpse into the times. Santina is smart and strong-willed and curious—traits that were not widely valued in a time when women were supposed to follow the wishes first of their fathers and then of their husbands. Young readers will appreciate her tenacity and her creativity in forging a life for herself.
I recommend Alchemy’s Daughter for any teen and members of mother-daughter book clubs with girls aged 12 and up.
The publisher provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.