Saturday, September 23, 2006

[Book Review] LEONARDO'S SWANS by Karen Essex

Fiction/ Genre: Historical Fiction

Wendi Glenn reviews LEONARDO'S SWANS by Karen Essex (Doubleday, 2006):

Set in 15th century Italy, Leonardo’s Swan is about two sisters and their rivalry. Isabella and Beatrice d’Este have very different personalities. Isabella is a refined lady while Beatrice is not. Isabella is engaged to Francesco Gonzoga, the Marquis of Mantua. Her younger sister, Beatrice, is due to wed Ludovico Sforza, the future Duke of Milan. These marriages were arranged when the girls were just 5 and 6 years old. Although Isabella is jealous of Beatrice and her future kingdom, she first finds happiness in her marriage while Beatrice is unhappily married to a man with a mistress. Eventually Isabella encourages her brother-in-law Ludovico’s advances. Her purpose in doing this is that she actually wants to sit for his artist, Leonardo Da Vinci.

This book will appeal to anyone with a love for the Renaissance period and artwork in general. The reader will learn about the history behind paintings such as Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” and “The Virgin of the Rocks.” Other books of interest include Lucrezia Borgia by John Faunce, The Borgia Bride by Jeanne Kalogridis, and Prince of Foxes by Samuel Shellabarger.

Wendi Glenn, Raleigh Branch Library

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