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Sacred hearts : a novel
Dunant, Sarah.
Adult Fiction DUNANT

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Dunant (The Birth of Venus) revisits 16th-century Italy, where the convents are filled with the daughters of noblemen who are unable or unwilling to pay a dowry to marry them off. The Santa Caterina convent's newest novice, Serafina, is miserable, having been shunted off by her father to separate her from a forbidden romance. She also has a singing voice that will be the glory of the convent and-more importantly to some-a substantial bonus for the convent's coffers. The convent's apothecary, Suora Zuana, strikes up a friendship with Serafina, enlisting her as an assistant in the convent dispensary and herb garden, but despite Zuana's attempts to help the girl adjust, Serafina remains focused on escaping. Serafina's constant struggle and her faith (of a type different from that common to convents) challenge Zuana's worldview and the political structure of Santa Caterina. A cast of complex characters breathe new life into the classic star-crossed lovers trope while affording readers a look at a facet of Renaissance life beyond the far more common viscounts and courtesans. Dunant's an accomplished storyteller, and this is a rich and rewarding novel. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

With her third novel set during the Italian Renaissance (after The Birth of Venus and In the Company of the Courtesan), Dunant continues to captivate. The year is 1570, and the convent of Santa Caterina, in the northern city of Ferrara, is considered the crown jewel of Italian nunneries. In a time when the cost of a daughter's dowry is staggering, many noblemen choose to marry surplus daughters off to the church, a far less expensive option. Not surprisingly, not all the women are willing participants. This is the story of the unlikely friendship forged between two women-Serafina, the angry, rebellious novice forced into convent life after an illicit affair comes to light, and Zuana, the calm, capable head of the dispensary, who cannot forget her painful assimilation 16 years previously. Verdict Dunant brilliantly depicts the daily rhythms of convent life and offers an intriguing glimpse into 16th-century church politics. A rich tale filled with passion and the enduring power of faith, this novel is highly recommended for historical fiction readers.-Makiia Lucier, Moscow, ID (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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