Cover image for Dante's daughter
Dante's daughter
Heuston, Kimberley Burton, 1960-
First edition.
Publication Information:
Asheville, N.C. : Front Street, [2003]

Physical Description:
302 pages ; 22 cm
In fourteenth-century Italy, Antonia, the daughter of Dante Alighieri, longs for a stable family and home while developing her artistic talent and seeking a place for herself in a world with limited options for women.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 6.3 14.0 76253.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Young Adult Fiction Young Adult

On Order



When political upheaval forces her family to flee and separate, Antonia takes her brother's advice to heart as she journeys through Italy and France with her father, the poet Dante Alighieri. She becomes a pilgrim who also embraces interior journeys: she struggles with her difficult, inattentive father; with her heart's desire to paint as her father writes; and with her first tastes of young love. All the while Antonia harbors dreams that others tell her women are not entitles to dream. Dante's Daughter portrays a life in full, one that beautifully answers Antonia's own questions: "Had my journey made me wise? Had my secret griefs made me strong?" This highly imagined story--based on the few known facts of Antonia's life--is set against the dramatic background of pre-Renaissance Europe, rendered in rich detail by storyteller and historian Kimberley Heuston.

Author Notes

Kimberley Heuston is the author of THE SHAKERESS (Front Street, April 2002) ISBN 1-886910-56-1 which has sold over 2,900 copies.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 10-12. As in Heuston's The Shakeress (2002), the protagonist in this historical novel is a strong young woman who chooses her own way. The setting is early fourteenth-century Italy and France, and the narrator is Antonia Alighieri, the daughter of the great writer Dante. The story begins when Antonia, five years old, is at home with her bitter, abandoned mother. It then follows her as a young teen in Paris with her brilliant, self-absorbed father, and culminates after she returns to the artistic family-community in Siena, Italy, where she struggles to find work, love, and independence. Heuston has clearly done her research, but the wealth of historical, political, and artistic detail nearly overwhelms the story. What will hold readers is the honest family picture; the gifted father's dedication to his work and himself truly hurts his wife and daughter. Antonia's struggle as an artist also provides a fascinating glimpse of early feminism--a working commune might be an alternative to a convent, and a woman finds love without just being a luscious peach ready to be picked. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

As in her The Shakeress, Heuston produces a lovingly detailed historical novel, rich in its setting and ambitious in its scope, if less than fully successful as fiction. Here the author imagines the life of Dante Alighieri's daughter, Antonia, about whom little is known except that she eventually became a Dominican nun. Antonia, the narrator, is five when civil war in her native Florence abruptly scatters her family and she is sent to stay with the artist Duccio in Siena (Heuston identifies but only loosely explains the confusing politics of 14th-century Florence). After developing her own interest in art, Bice, as she is nicknamed, now 11, accepts an invitation from her father (now exiled from Florence) to travel with him to Paris. The author enjoys alluding to characters from Dante's later works-and even if not all of her appropriations are entirely accurate (as an afterword concedes) perhaps her enthusiasm may lay a foundation for the audience's eventual desire to read Dante on their own. Bice's voice can be stilted, especially in the early sections, and characters develop in predictable ways, but for the most part Heuston offers solid entertainment for fans of historical fiction. Ages 12-up. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 8 Up-Through the fictional memoir of Antonia Alighieri, the only daughter of the great Italian poet, the politics, hardships, and aspirations that shaped her life, her father, and her medieval world are recounted. Against the complex, tumultuous backdrop of 14th-century Italy, Dante is exiled from Florence for his political views. Endangered, his family flees-the mother taking care of her parents and the children finding homes with relatives, with six-year-old Antonia moving in with an artisan uncle and aunt. After five years, her father reappears and Antonia begins a peripatetic life with him as he searches for intellectual truths while living off his wealthy patrons. At a time when women were generally subservient and unobtrusive, Antonia is perceptive, artistic, and questioning. Although she and her siblings suffer from her parents' self-absorption, financial woes, and marital difficulties, she clings to family, admires her father's literary accomplishments, and endures poverty and illness. Ultimately, she emerges from the shadow of her father and weds her soul mate from childhood, artist Ambrogio Lorenzetti. They enjoy 20 years together until the Black Plague ravages the family, and Antonia enters a convent. This well-researched, imaginative story unfolds steadily with factual information smoothly interwoven into it. The illumination of a great mind through the eyes and voice of a daughter will appeal to teens, who will discover an appealing heroine, a wealth of historical information, and a deeper understanding of the Divine Comedy.-Gerry Larson, Durham School of the Arts, NC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.