Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Leonardo's Swans by Karen Essex

Overview: Isabella d'Este, daughter of the Duke of Ferrara, born into privilege and the political and artistic turbulence of Renaissance Italy, is a stunning black-eyed blonde and an art lover and collector. Worldly and ambitious, she has never envied her less attractive sister, the spirited but naive Beatrice, until, by a quirk of fate, Beatrice is betrothed to the future Duke of Milan. Although he is more than twice her age, openly lives with his mistress, and is reputedly trying to eliminate the current duke by nefarious means, Ludovico Sforza is Isabella's match in intellect and passion for all things of beauty. Only he would allow her to fulfill her destiny: to reign over one of the world's most powerful and enlightened realms and be immortalized in oil by the genius Leonardo da Vinci. Isabella vows that she will not rest until she wins her true fate, and the two sisters compete for supremacy in the illustrious courts of Europe.

My review: Scheming sisters, conniving spouses, mistresses, one temperamental artist, politics and war. What's not to like about the intrigue, adventure, and beauty of Renaissance Europe. At times it can be a bit confusing to keep all the players in order especially when they're changing alliances to suit themselves and the needs of their countries. The writing style was easy to read and flowed throughout the book. I was hooked early and had trouble putting it down to do things like go to work. It's helpful to be familiar with Leonardo da Vinci's art or have access to an art book or Wikipedia, an Internet encyclopedia, so that you can refer to these works as the author writes about them. She also includes snippets from Leonardo's written works throughout the book. This is a fiction book based on historical fact and personalities of the time.

1 Comment:

Alix said...

I read this book last year and really enjoyed it.

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