the Daughter of Siena by Marina Fiorato is a historical fiction novel set in 18th Century Siena, Italy. It revolves around a horse race, Palio di Siena, that pits city districts against each other in a bid to be the winner.
Intrigue, rivalry, influence and treachery reduces supposedly civilized men to brutes who are willing to engage in insidious tactics and schemes to gain the coveted winner's banner for their district. Unfortunately, for the protagonist, Pia Tolomei, her love happens to be a rider from another ward.
The Palio di Siena has existed since medieval times and is still run twice a year in Siena, Italy. It is acompanied by lavish ceremonies and each race is named in honour of the Madonna or Mary, Mother of Jesus. As in the 18th century, riders from different wards of the city compete.