Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Review: Signora da Vinci

Summary: Caterina was fifteen years old in 1452 when she bore an illegitimate child in the tiny village of Vinci. His name was Leonardo, and he was destined to change the world forever.

Caterina suffered much cruelty as an unmarried mother and had no recourse when her boy was taken away from her. But no one knew the secrets of her own childhood, nor could ever have imagined the dangerous and heretical scheme she would devise to protect and watch over her remarkable son. This is her story. -- New American Library

I have always liked reading historical fiction, and recently I have found myself reading a great deal of it. I "don't know much about history" and can honestly say that I doubt I will ever pick up a "history" book, but I do love to read fiction. And if I can learn a thing or two in the process, all the better. My latest enjoyable historical fiction read was SIGNORA DA VINCI by Robin Maxwell.

SIGNORA DA VINCI is the second book that I've read in the past month that covered the Italian Renaissance. I'd have to say that (right now) I love reading and learning about this time period -- I can't get enough of books with characters like Da Vinci, the Medicis, Savonarola, etc. Fortunately for me, this book was filled with loads of fascinating historical information about them. These people were all very unique and their stories are incredibly interesting to me. I'm not sure that an author could create better characters for a novel than these historical figures. So when Robin Maxwell took these already special people and combined it with a fictional account of Caterina's life, it made for a terrific read!

Of course, SIGNORA DA VINCI is a piece of fiction; and since almost nothing is known about Caterina, Ms. Maxwell did have a lot of opportunity to create a story for her. I was blown away by how Ms. Maxwell incorporated all of the facts from this time period with Caterina's fictional life. It's apparent that Ms. Maxwell conducted a tremendous amount of research while writing this novel. I also was extremely impressed with how Ms. Maxwell included story lines on the Shadow Renaissance, the Shroud of Turin, and the downfall of Savonarola. While she did present the known facts about these events, she managed to also include her own little twists on these events! I found her presentation to be fabulous!

I would definitely consider picking SIGNORA DA VINCI for a future book club pick. I'm sure that my friends would enjoy this book as much as I did. There is a reader's guide in the back of the book; and Ms. Maxwell's website has some very interesting historical information which complements the book perfectly. I have no doubt that there will be a tremendous amount for your group to discuss especially if you start with the sixteen discussion questions.

Make sure you come back tomorrow because the author of SIGNORA DA VINCI, Robin Maxwell, will be stopping by and to answer a few of my questions. There's also another very good reason to visit -- hint, hint...free books!

A big thanks goes out to Kaitlyn from Penguin Group for sending me a review copy of SIGNORA DA VINCI.


bermudaonion said...

Your reviews are so good - they always make me want to read the book!

Karlie said...

I definitely want to read this. Thanks for your review.

Passages to the Past said...

I absolutely LOVED this book! And Lorenzo de Medici is my new historical crush!

Stop on over my blog soon as I'll also be interviewing Robin! Can't wait to see yours!

S. Krishna said...

Wasn't this a great read? I really enjoyed it!

Amy said...

It is an interesting time period, isn't it? I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Anna said...

I've been reading a lot of historical fiction, too. This one looks good, and I haven't read much about this time period.

Diary of an Eccentric

Anonymous said...

I am currently reading this book. Wow, is it good! I only just stumbled upon your blog and I absolutely love it; placed you on my favorites. I am not far from you - in York, PA. We have similar tastes in books.

Chrisine H. said...

Your review is right on. This is a spectacularly illustrative read. It would make a perfect movie. I'm thinking Jody Foster?
Thank you for your great reviews!

Cathy Puett Miller said...

I read this too and just loved it. Although I have to say that it is very much on the fiction side (not much is known historically about Da Vinci's mom), I found it fascinating. I could relate parts of it to D. Brown's DaVinci Code.