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When political upheaval forces her family to flee and separate, Antonia takes her brother's advice to heart as she journeys through Italy and France with her father, the poet Dante Alighieri. She becomes a pilgrim who also embraces interior journeys: she struggles with her difficult, inattentive father; with her heart's desire to paint as her father writes; and with her first tastes of young love. All the while Antonia harbors dreams that others tell her women are not entitles to dream. Dante's Daughter portrays a life in full, one that beautifully answers Antonia's own questions: "Had my journey made me wise? Had my secret griefs made me strong?" This highly imagined story--based on the few known facts of Antonia's life--is set against the dramatic background of pre-Renaissance Europe, rendered in rich detail by storyteller and historian Kimberley Heuston.
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Kimberley Heuston was born in Provo, Utah, and grew up in New York City. During her childhood, her family frequently visited St. Johnsbury, Vermont, which became the setting for her first novel, The Shakeress. Ms. Heuston teaches European history and recently received her MFA from Norwich University. She lives in Sandy, Utah.From Booklist:
Gr. 10-12. As in Heuston's The Shakeress (2002), the protagonist in this historical novel is a strong young woman who chooses her own way. The setting is early fourteenth-century Italy and France, and the narrator is Antonia Alighieri, the daughter of the great writer Dante. The story begins when Antonia, five years old, is at home with her bitter, abandoned mother. It then follows her as a young teen in Paris with her brilliant, self-absorbed father, and culminates after she returns to the artistic family-community in Siena, Italy, where she struggles to find work, love, and independence. Heuston has clearly done her research, but the wealth of historical, political, and artistic detail nearly overwhelms the story. What will hold readers is the honest family picture; the gifted father's dedication to his work and himself truly hurts his wife and daughter. Antonia's struggle as an artist also provides a fascinating glimpse of early feminism--a working commune might be an alternative to a convent, and a woman finds love without just being "a luscious peach ready to be picked." Hazel Rochman
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