Intrigue in 15th Century Florence: The Sign of the Weeping Virgin by Alana White

TSOTWVThe Sign of the Weeping Virgin, by Alana White, is a new novel that brings to life Italian history, specifically in Florence, much of which I had no prior knowledge. Italian history not being one I’m quite as well read or educated on, this book’s through research and information circled with a fictional mystery was very enlightening and descriptive.

Most people who enjoy history have heard of Amerigo Vespucci. His uncle was Guid Antonio Vespucci, a lawyer in Florence during the early 1400s, a time when the arts were flourishing and the Medici family was in power.  The Vespucci family was also a major family influence in the area and Guid Antonio supported the Medicis and had a close friendship with Lorenzo de Medici, or Lorenzo the Magnificent. This was a time and place ripe with intrigue, political maneuvering, and families sparring for position.  White utilizes all this in her book, mixed with the Renaissance players such as artists Sandro Botticelli and Leonardo Da Vinci, while also delighting readers with savory details of lavish meals, affairs, and controversies.

As a protagonist, Guid Antonio was interesting and his conversational thoughts unique. He was at all times seemingly confused, yet also extremely intelligent.  Pious, yet also flawed.  This made him quite the original detective and his dialogue with supporting characters, like his nephew Amerigo, carried subtle nuances and light humor.

The best part of this book was White’s revelatory research and historical presence. Due to this her characters were well detailed and very human. We come to know their passions and vices, their secrets and faults, as well as their documented successes and legacies.  It wasn’t a fast-paced thriller, but more of an educated and historically detailed mystery.

I am an art history buff, so I really enjoyed the introduction of the major artists of this time and as always, enjoy a good conspiracy where paintings and clues are involved.

I look forward to the next book in White’s series of Guid Antonio Vespucci historical mysteries.  I highly recommend this book if you love braintwisters that are history-heavy prose combined with beautiful descriptive detail and interesting detective work set in one of the best-loved eras–the Italian Renaissance.

I’m also looking forward to a more telling interview with author Alana White tomorrow. If you’re interested in reading further about this book, White, and/or her historical research, please check out that interview as well.  Make sure to enter to win a copy of The Sign of the Weeping Virgin.

Sign of the Weeping Virgin Synopsis~

Publication Date: January 9, 2013 | Five Star Publishing | 384p

Romance and intrigue abound in The Sign of the Weeping Virgin an evocative historical mystery that brings the Italian Renaissance gloriously to life.

In 1480 Florentine investigator Guid Antonio Vespucci and his nephew Amerigo are tangled in events that threaten to destroy them and their beloved city.

Marauding Turks abduct a beautiful young Florentine girl and sell her into slavery. And then a holy painting begins weeping in Guid Antonio s church. Are the tears manmade or a sign of God’s displeasure with Guid Antonio himself?

In a finely wrought story for lovers of medieval and renaissance mysteries everywhere Guid Antonio follows a spellbinding trail of clues to uncover the thought-provoking truth about the missing girl and the weeping painting’s mystifying—-and miraculous?— tears all pursued as he comes face to face with his own personal demons.


“Fans of historical mysteries will thoroughly enjoy this chance to visit the Italy of 1480 in the company of real-life historical figure Guid’Antonio Vespucci, a Florence lawyer. Backed up by sure-handed storytelling and scrupulous research into the period, White creates richly evocative descriptions of Renaissance-era Florence certain to please the amateur historian and armchair tourist.” – Publishers Weekly Review

“A Florentine lawyer must solve a murder to keep his city from imploding. One hopes that White’s clever tale, meticulously researched and pleasingly written, is the first in a series that will bring Florence and its many famous denizens to life.” – Starred Kirkus Review


Alana WhiteAlana White’s fascination with the Italian Renaissance led to her first short historical mystery fiction, then to a full-length novel, The Sign of the Weeping Virgin, published from Five Star Mysteries in December 2012. Set in Renaissance Florence, The Sign of the Weeping Virgin features lawyer Guid’Antonio Vespucci and his adventurous young nephew, Amerigo Vespucci, as they investigate crime in Renaissance Florence. Alana’s articles and book reviews appear regularly in Renaissance Magazine and the Historical Novels Review. In young adult+ books, she is the author of Come Next Spring, a novel set in 1940s Appalachia, and a biography, Sacagawea: Westward with Lewis and Clark. She is currently working on her second Guid’Antonio Vespucci mystery.

For more on Alana White, go to:

For more fun on the tour with Alana White, including guest posts, more reviews, and other interviews, click on the tour button below for the entire schedule!



Filed under Book Reviews

3 responses to “Intrigue in 15th Century Florence: The Sign of the Weeping Virgin by Alana White

  1. amyc

    Great review! Have been looking forward to this one.
    Campbellamyd at Gmail dot com


  2. Pingback: Interview with Author Alana White: Her Life, the Italian Renaissance, and Writing | Oh, for the HOOK of a BOOK!

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