Venice, Italy in 1590 was an interesting place. Filled with educated and wealthy people the city was a force unto itself. One of the things that Venice and few other cities of the time did was educate women as medical doctors. Gabriella Mondini is one such woman. Her medical knowledge and training came from her father and her practice centered on the treatment of women. Her father has been gone for 10 years. He left Gabriella and her mother to tour several countries while writing his opus, a book called "The Book of Diseases." Gabriella was helping her father with the book. While he has been traveling, her father sent Gabriella letters from the cities and countries he was in. The letters described various illnesses and the local cures for them. The letters become less frequent until the day Gabriella receives a letter from her father stating he will never come back to Venice.
Back in Venice, Gabriella is having some troubles of her own. Without her father to back her, the Venice Guild of Medicine has decided that Gabriella can no longer attend meetings. Gabriella decides that she must now find her father in order to continue the work on the book and save her medical practice. She and 2 servants (Olmina and Lorenzo) set out to find him using the letters as a guide. She sets out for Padua. While in Padua her father's friend tells Gabriella of the possible madness of her father.Following the letters Gabriella and her companions travel through Europe and into Scotland, then back south to the northern coast of Africa, all the while learning new things about her father.
The story has an interesting main character, a woman doctor in the 16th century. The customs of the time and the countries she travels through are detailed throughout the book. There are also several items dealing with local diseases and their equally local cures. I found the book very interesting.