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 a
precocious lover and collector of art. Worldly and ambitious, she has never
envied her less attractive sister, the spirited but naïve Beatrice, until, by a
quirk of fate, Beatrice is betrothed to the future Duke of Milan. Although he is
more than twice their 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.
Though Isabella weds the Marquis of Mantua, a man she has loved since childhood, Beatrice's fortunes rise effortlessly through her marriage to Ludovico. The two sisters compete for supremacy in the illustrious courts of Europe, and Isabella vows that she will not rest until she wrestles back her true fate and plays temptress to the sensuous Ludovico and muse to the great Leonardo. But when Ludovico's grand plan to control Europe begins to crumble, immortality through art becomes a luxury, and the two sisters must choose between familial loyalty and survival in the treacherous political climate.
Leonardo's Swans is an exceptionally vivid evocation of the artist during his years in the glittering court of Milan, re-creating the thrilling moments when he conceived The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. It portrays a genius ahead of his time who can rarely escape the demands of his noble patrons long enough to express his own artistic vision.
A haunting novel of rivalry, love, and betrayal that transports readers back to Renaissance Italy, Leonardo's Swans will have you dashing to the works of the great painternot for clues to a mystery but to contemplate the secrets of the human heart.
X * FORTUNA (CHANCE)
From the notebook of Leonardo:
When Fortune comes, seize her firmly at the forelock, for I tell you, she is bald at the back.
IN THE YEAR 1489; IN THE CITY OF FERRARA
She grew up in a land of fairy tales and miracles. That is what Isabella is explaining to Francesco as they ride through Ferrara's streets. It is Christmastime, and though there is no snow on the dry stone road, the horses shoot clouds of steam into the frigid air through their nostrils.
This is the first time she has been allowed to escort her fiancé through the city on one of his visits. Francesco Gonzaga, future Marquis of Mantua, has come to Ferrara to romance his soon-to-be bride and to enjoy the city's many Christmas pageants ordered by Isabella's father, Duke Ercole d...
If you enjoy historical fiction, and in particular books that focus on the lives of famous artists such as those by Susan Vreeland, Tracy Chevalier and especially Sarah Dunant, you should take a good look at Leonardo's Swans; particularly so if you have an interest in the Renaissance in general, and Leonardo da Vinci in particular.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (532 words).
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