Transported to Tuscany in the Fourteenth Century
The iconic Tuscan landscape in the turbulent fourteenth century provides the backdrop for The Towers of Tuscany, an historical novel about a women painter in the all-male domain of the painter’s workshop. Author Carol M. Cram describes how her fascination with Tuscany led her to write the novel.
Every novel starts as a spark of an idea that so intrigues the author that it bursts into flame. This spark can come in the form of a character, a period in history, a single event, a location, an emotion, even a dream. For me, the spark that ignited The Towers of Tuscany was my musing one day about the Tuscan town of San Gimignano. I have visited Tuscany’s lovely city of towers many times over the past two decades and am always captivated by its medieval towers and commanding views over the stunning Tuscan landscape. About fifteen of these towers remain, but in its heyday in the fourteenth century, over 70 towers pierced the blue Tuscan sky.
So I wondered What had San Gimignano looked like with 70 towers? This thought led naturally to another thought – Had anyone painted a view of San Gimignano with its dozens of towers? My attempts to answer these questions led me on a long journey that resulted, four years later, in The Towers of Tuscany.
One thing I learned very quickly on my journey was that landscape painting was in its infancy in the fourteenth century and highly stylized. Very, very few paintings from the period depicted architecture in any form, never mind in a standalone landscape. However, landscapes were not unknown. During this period of predominantly religious art, painters such as Ambrogio Lorenzetti and Simone Martini explored secular themes in their paintings. I decided to invent a painter who also departed from the usual religious iconography and painted a view of the towers of San Gimignano in the style of the time. My painter is a woman because I was also intrigued by idea of women painting in medieval times. Medieval painting was a family affair, so after consulting with experts in medieval art, I concluded that it was plausible that a painter could have trained his wife or daughter in the painter’s craft.
And then I got a sign that my novel was destined to be written.
While surfing the Web for sites on Tuscany, I stumbled upon the website for San Gimignano 1300, a museum in San Gimignano that includes a large scale model of how the town appeared in the year 1300. I couldn’t believe it! Two artists had painstakingly recreated the city complete with all seventy of its towers. As soon as I could, I caught a plane to Rome, a train to Florence, and a bus to San Gimignano. My morning spent at San Gimignano 1300 was one of the most productive of my writing career.
Although based on musings about towers and painters, The Towers of Tuscany is anything but a dry historical treatise. Anne Fortier, author of the New York Times bestseller, Juliet states that Carol Cram has crafted a delicious story about a strong woman torn between her secret past, her love of painting and the forbidden charms of her rich patron. Hard to resist and highly recommended! Roberta Rich, author of The Midwife of Venice and The Harem Midwife states: The Towers of Tuscany has all the elements of a wonderful historical novel―a talented, frustrated heroine, a treacherous, feckless husband, and a promise to a dying, much loved father who orders the heroine on a dangerous mission. Carol is a first rate storyteller. The research is well done. Every chapter displays a fine knowledge of painting technique of the 14th century, and customs and mores of the age. The details of dress, fabric, food, are flawless. The clever dialogue and fast pace make the novel zing along.
The Towers of Tuscany is appealing to people who are fascinated by fourteenth century Italy and by Tuscany, particularly the towns of San Gimignano and Siena, where the action of the novel takes place. Readers interested in the glorious art of the period and in workings of a medieval painter’s workshop are also enjoying the novel.
But most of all, people are enjoying The Towers of Tuscany because of Sofia Carelli, my spirited, talented, kick ass heroine who never gives up her passion for painting or her search for love, even in the face of almost insurmountable limitations.
The Towers of Tuscany is my first historical novel with an “arts twist.” I have dipped my toe into most of the arts over the years and my goal is to combine my love of the arts with my love of history to produce novels that celebrate an individual’s journey with his or her art during a particular era. My next novel, (working title “Nocturnes”) tells the story of a concert pianist in Vienna in the late 1820s, shortly after the death of Beethoven and during the last year of Schubert’s life. I plan to release that novel in the fall of 2014.
History and the arts are full of great stories! A sequel to The Towers of Tuscany is also not out of the question.
The Towers of Tuscany is available on Amazon in e-book and paperback formats.
For more about visiting Tuscany click ItalianTourism.us Tuscany vacation packages.