Eclectic Closet Litblog, Book Reviews & Knitting Designs

A litblog dedicated to book reviews/recommendations, as well as literary and publishing news. Now enhanced with knitting designs.

BOOK REVIEW: Maddalena by Eva Jana Siroka


Eva Jana Siroka’s debut novel, Maddalena, feels like it has come from an earlier age, one where novels are paced slowly and setting is as important as action. This beautifully illustrated novel, featuring twenty-three original watercolors by the author, took ten years to research, write and illustrate. Siroka, a renaissance art historian, has taken the story of Titian’s famous painting, Penitent Magdalen (originally owned by the historical Alessandro Farnese’s brother-in-law) and brought it vibrantly to life.

Set in 16th century Rome, Maddalena is the story of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese’s love for Monna Rebecca, a Jewish apothecary; her conversion to Christianity; and his quest to become Pope. Maddalena (the converted Rebecca) is of the wrong class, religion, and color, but this does not deter Farnese, determined to possess Maddalena, even if it will cost him the papal chair.

Maddalena is also the story of a papacy weakened by epic corruption and a struggle for power, told through the eyes of Bartholomaeus (Berti) Spranger, a Flemish born painter to Cardinal Farnese and later the Pope. The reader is introduced to a period that saw the birth of great art and musical achievements yet included the harshest days of the Catholic Inquisition, a time when the simplest transgressions could lead to horrific punishments. As this intricate novel unfolds, the reader journeys with Cardinal Farnese in his struggle to balance his passion for Maddalena and his ambitions.

Siroka bring this important period in Rome’s history dramatically to life. Her writing is at its best when transporting readers to the streets of Rome, evoking the sights, sounds and smells of the teaming city. The author’s years of research into the lives of sixteenth-century, North European painters has paid off by creating a dazzling world. Initially the variations of character’s names used, and the shear number of secondary characters is overwhelming and daunting; however the plot quickly draws in the reader.

Notwithstanding the fascinating history woven into this powerful novel, first and foremost this is a novel of love and relationships. This reader eagerly awaits Bartholomaeus, the second book of The Golden Tripolis trilogy, which will be set in imperial Prague.

See the review as it is posted at Armchair Interviews – Maddalena.

Newer Entries »

Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required
Email Preference *
Email Format

Visit my Ravelry Shop

My Knitting Patterns

Audrey II

Angular Path Scarf

Cartouche Stole

Fossetta Cowl

Fossetta Hat

Sargaço Shawl

Whitman Hat

Every Which Way Cowl

Every Which Way Hat

Every Which Way Fingerless Mitts

Gothic Forest Scarf

Valencia Scarf

Branching Path Cowl

Flower Bell Stole

Whitman Cowl

New Tech Cowl

Vieux Carré Stole

Stacks Socks

Anna Perenna Shawlette

Taming of the Fox

Don't Ask Y

Cantilevering Leaves

Amplification Stole

Combs Cowl

Mindfulness Cowl

Tipsy Scarf

Gridwork Scarf
Ravelry Free Download