5 stars · history · young adult

A Golden Web by Barbara Quick

A Golden Web

Author: Barbara Quick

Pages: [hardcover] 266

Favorite Characters: Nicco & Pierina

Memorable Quote: “But history has lately been revealed to me as the place where I live, where we all live, side by invisible side with others who – if we get quiet enough and listen carefully enough – will touch us and tell us their stories.”


Alessandra is desperate to escape.

Desperate to escape her stepmother, who’s locked her away for a year; to escape the cloister that awaits her and the marriage plans that have been made for her; to escape the expectations that limit her and every other girl in fourteenth-century Italy. There’s no tolerance in her quiet village for Alessandra and her keen intelligence and unconventional ideas.

In defiant pursuit of her dreams, Alessandra undertakes an audacious quest, her bravery equaled only by the dangers she faces. Disguised and alone in a city of spies and scholars, Alessandra will find a love she could not foresee — and an enduring fame.

In this exquisite imagining of the centuries-old story of Alessandra Giliani, the world’s first female anatomist, acclaimed novelist Barbara Quick gives readers the drama, romance, and rich historical detail for which she is known as she shines a light on an unforgotten — and unforgettable — heroine.


 This book had me from the start. The writing style of A Golden Web had me feeling like a was reading an old fairy tale, mixed with a piece of history. It was quickly paced, easily read, and enjoyable from beginning to end. It certainly makes me appreciate how many opportunities I have in life in this time period, as opposed to a girl my age in Alessandra’s time. I’d hate to be married off, or forced to forget my own wishes for the future. These are exactly the sort of things that she faces, and has to fight against.

I love Alessandra’s rebellious stance, and how she tries to keep herself happy and get what she wants. She doesn’t try to bend to any other’s will, and I like this independence about her. She was very likeable-an important trait in any character-and had definition to her. She wasn’t flat or boring in the slightest.

I loved the historical aspect of the book. Beginning it, I half believed it was pure fiction, but when I reached the end and realized that Alessandra had indeed once been alive, the novel took on an entirely different context for me. I’m always up for learning a bit of history, and knowing someone could push the limits in this way just makes me think of where the world would be today, if it weren’t for those who pushed against society’s boundaries.

I found A Golden Web to be a quick, delightful read that will definitely stick around with me for a while. I give it 5/5 stars, and recommend it to those who like history, strong female characters, or a great read.

3 thoughts on “A Golden Web by Barbara Quick

  1. Thank you, Kayla, for this beautiful review of A GOLDEN WEB! I’ll put a link to it up on my HarperCollins micro-site. In the meantime, I wonder if you’d also enjoy my 2007 novel (published on the adult side of HarperCollins, but well loved by a lot of YA readers), VIVALDI’S VIRGINS. The heroine of that story is also very dear to my heart.

    Warm wishes,


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