Book Review: Waking Isabella

Fiction Set in Arezzo, Tuscany

Waking Isabella: Because beauty can’t sleep forever is the second fiction book set in Italy by Melissa Muldoon. In this book, Melissa uses her expertise in art history, fine arts, Italian, and Tuscany to weave 3 different stories, set in 3 different time periods, into one book. Waking Isabella is the kind of historical fiction I love – the main story takes place in the present but within the plot are flashbacks of stories taking place in the Renaissance and during World War II.

Discover Arezzo, Tuscany in Waking Isabella

During the present day story, Melissa transports the reader to Arezzo, one of Tuscany’s lesser-known hill towns. She introduces the medieval festival, a competition between the town’s neighborhoods typical of many Italian towns. Arezzo’s competition, la Giostra del Saracino, is a re-enactment of a medieval joust that’s held two times in summer. In Waking Isabella you’ll feel the excitement and discover the importance of the festival. You’ll also explore the top sights of Arezzo, its famous antiques fair, and its artisan jewelry tradition, as well as be introduced to a few Italian words and phrases.

Although the historical stories don’t turn out so well for their heroines, the book’s main character finds happiness, love, and a new beginning as her creative beauty is awakened in Italy. Even though the book is fiction (but based on true events), I learned something about art history, the Renaissance princess Isabella, and the jousting tournament, Arezzo’s most important festival. If you’ve never been to Arezzo, you’ll probably want to go after you read this book. Recommended reading for anyone who wants to take an armchair journey to Tuscany or looking for new places to explore on their next trip.

Melissa’s Books on Amazon:

Book description excerpt from Italy Book Tours:

While filming a documentary about Isabella de’ Medici – the Renaissance princess who was murdered by her husband – Nora begins to connect with the lives of two remarkable women from the past. Unraveling the stories of Isabella, the daughter of a fifteenth-century Tuscan duke, and Margherita, a young girl trying to survive the war in Nazi-occupied Italy, Nora begins to question the choices that have shaped her own life up to this point. As she does, hidden beauty is awakened deep inside of her, and she discovers the keys to her creativity and happiness.

photo of Melissa Muldoon
Melissa Muldoon, Author of Waking Isabella. Photo courtesy of Italy Book Tours.

Melissa Muldoon

Melissa Muldoon has a B.A. in fine arts, art history and European history and a master’s degree in art history. As a student, Melissa lived in Florence with an Italian family, studying art history, painting, and Italian. She uses this background effectively in writing her books as well as designing the book covers.

Melissa is also known as the Studentessa Matta, the crazy linguist. Matta means crazy or impassioned, and the second adjective certainly applies to Melissa. She promotes the study of Italian language and culture through her dual-language blog, Studentessa Matta. She continues to travel in Italy and study Italian, organizing small-group language immersion programs twice a year.

Visit Melissa Muldoon’s web site and follow her on Facebook to find out more.

walking isabella book cover
Waking Isablla Book Cover. Photo courtesy of Italy Book Tours.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a review copy of the book by Italy Book Tours, however that did not influence this article.

This post may contain affiliate links to sites I believe are of benefit to travelers. There is no cost to you but the small amount of revenue helps defer the cost of bringing you this free information.

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Book Review: Waking Isabella originally appeared on , updated: Aug 24, 2020.