Monday, September 1, 2008

Dante's Daughter by Kimberley Heuston

Dante’s Daughter by Kimberley Heuston

Dante Alighieri’s daughter, Antonia, has a life that is full of upheaval and change. Politics forces their family to flee Florence and to split up. She lives with her uncle while her brother, mother, and father find refuge elsewhere. Then her father comes for her so that she can join him on a pilgrimage to Paris. She has to learn to get along with her father, and endure a long and often hard journey.

I enjoyed this book not as much as the Shakeress, but it still kept me intrigued. Once again the book really doesn’t have a clearly defined plot, but kind of wanders along with the character in the way that I kind of like. Though this time I did feel that the wandering did last a little bit too long.

Periods of hardship and darkness are tempered by times of extreme joy and happiness that comes from having a safe place and loved ones near. The book does have an annoying habit of throwing in Italian words without translation. The vocabulary of the book wasn’t as alienating for me because I lived in Italy for 6 weeks and visited Florence and Ravenna (I’ve seen Dante’s tomb! Both of them.) So, I kind of knew the setting and a miniscule amount of Italian. There are some sections of French without translation too. Most of the Latin was translated though, funnily enough, or given context at the very least.
It is a weakness and strength of the book that you kind of have to have a certain amount of background knowledge to fully enjoy it. It also has some vocabulary and concepts that relate to art that could be confusing if you don’t have background knowledge. So, yeah, kind of tough reading for Y.A. I’m sure some kids will be up to it though.
I enjoyed it for the most part, but could understand it not appealing to some people.

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