Waking Isabella by Melissa Muldoon is out now.
Melissa Muldoon is the author of “Waking Isabella,” a novel about the 16th century Medici princess, who was murdered by her husband in a hunting villa outside Florence. It is rumored that Isabella’s ghost still haunts the halls! Isabella’s story is woven together with a contemporary protagonist Nora, a videographer recovering from a failed marriage and seeking meaning in her life—who travels to Italy to make a documentary about Isabella. Along the way, Nora becomes caught up in the mystery of Isabella’s lost painting that disappeared during WWII. The story is set in Arezzo against the backdrop of the medieval town’s jousting festival. The reader will also be transported back in time to walk the streets of Isabella’s Florence and discover what Arezzo was like during the war years.
“Waking Isabella” is the winner of Reader Views 2018 Book of the Year. “Muldoon magically weaves together the lives of Nora, Isabella and Margherita, spanning the course of many centuries, into a story that will mesmerize and haunt readers long after the last page is read. The author has such a unique voice you can feel her personality in every sentence. She delivers historical references and tells of lasting traditions that drive you to want to learn more, and exhibits a contemporary voice through her protagonists, all the while weaving bits of Italian into the dialogue. It’s apparent “Waking Isabella” required extensive research, though it certainly feels like a labor of love. Muldoon’s passion for Italy is evident.”
Melissa Muldoon is the author of four novels set in Italy: Dreaming Sophia, Waking Isabella, and Eternally Artemisia, and The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola (coming Fall 2020). All four books are available on Amazon in print, Epub, and Audio. They tell the stories of women and their journeys of self-discovery to find love, uncover hidden truths, and follow their destinies to shape a better future for themselves.
As a student, Melissa lived in Florence with an Italian family. She studied art history and painting and took beginner Italian classes. When Melissa returned home, she threw away her Italian dictionary. However, after launching a successful design career and starting a family, she realized something was missing. That “thing” was the connection she had made with Italy and the friends who live there.
Living in Florence was indeed a life-changing event. Wanting to reconnect with Italy, she decided to start learning the language again from scratch. As if indeed possessed by an Italian muse, she bought a new Italian dictionary and began her journey to fluency—a path that has led her back to Italy many times and enriched her life in countless ways. Now, many dictionaries and grammar books later, she dedicates her time to promoting Italian language studies, traveling, and sharing her stories and insights about Italy in novels set in Italy.
Waking Isabella – Because beauty can’t sleep forever
Waking Isabella is a story about uncovering hidden beauty that, over time, has been lost, erased, or suppressed. It also weaves together several love stories as well as a few mysteries. Nora, an assistant researcher, is a catalyst for resolving the puzzle of a painting that has been missing for decades. Set in Arezzo, a small Tuscan town, the plot unfolds against the backdrop of the city’s antique trade and the fanfare and pageantry of its medieval jousting festival.
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. It is a story of love and deceit, forgeries and masterpieces—all held together by the allure and intrigue of a beautiful Tuscan ghost.
I was first introduced to Melissa Muldoon’s novels with Dreaming Sophia. Waking Isabella was my second novel by her, and I loved it even more (if that was possible). The way the setting and characters were described transports you to make you feel as if you are there with them breathing in the same air. I loved the storyline and the character of Nora too. How Melissa wrote female characters that are somehow related was amazing. I also really enjoyed the way historical fiction was brought into this novel. It was my favorite part. Overall, I definitely recommend reading this novel. It won’t disappoint!
Note: information and photos were provided by author.