Nonna's Book of Mysteries
Lake Street Press (LSP), Jun 3 2010, $16.95
In Florence, fourteen years old Emilia Serafini fantasizes of becoming an artist’s apprentice, but females need not apply. Her father Francesco wants his teenage daughter married to mid twentyish Benozzo, son of an affluent businessman.
Emilia’s only hope resides with her understanding mom Violante who persuades her spouse to allow their daughter to masquerade as a young male apprentice for one year to foreign widower Makarios before she settles down in marriage to Benozzo. At the same time, her mom gives Emilia an ancient tome passed down maternally for generations; Nonna's Book of Mysteries is an alchemy reference guide. Art patron Franco learns of the secret tome and plots to own it so he can present it as a gift to Cosimo de'Medici in order to gain favors. Thus he courts Emilia, wins her heart, and persuades her father to let him marry her.
Nonna’s Book of Mysteries is a great historical tale that on the surface brings Renaissance Florence alive; especially the narrow choices allowed women. However, subtly the story line encourages young females, and by implications males too, to be all you can be as setting and pursuing BHAGs is worthy of everyone. Well written with a profound message, young adult readers will relish Mary Osborne’s strong historical.