The Queen's Soprano, by Carol Dines.
I happened upon this lovely young adult novel at my local library while searching for a book on Sweden to read for the European Reading Challenge. It tells the story of a young girl in Rome in the period where women were not allowed to sing in public, or much at all beyond religious songs within the confines of a convent. Our heroine, of course, has magic in her voice, and transfixes everyone who hears her. Discovered singing for her lover (who she has never met or spoken with personally, but with whom she has exchanged written words and tokens of affection via her family's housemaid), she is sent to a convent. Managing to find a way out of the convent, she flees to the court of the Queen of Sweden, who has abdicated her throne, converted to Catholicism, moved to Rome, and has her own area in the city under her own rule, in which she encourages women to perform as singers. She is taken under the old Queen's wing, and stays there until the Queen dies. She then flees to Spain with a welcoming family as the book closes.
First off, I must say that the cover image really captured my imagination. Throughout the book I imagined our heroine looking just like the young lady on the cover. As for the story itself, I found this book quite interesting to read. It wasn't the sort that kept the pages turning late into the night by any means, but there were enough twists and turns in the plot to keep me coming back at regular intervals to see what would happen next. Prior to reading this book, I had not known that women were barred from singing in public, and I found this an eye-opening read in that regard. I love that even at 46 years old I can still learn a thing or two from a well-researched and written young adult book! I recommend this book to anyone interested in history and in music. 4.5