Thursday, March 6, 2014

Leonardo (da Vinci) : To Mantua and Beyond . . .

     We have been reading aloud Catherine Jaime's series of novels about Leonardo da Vinci's life; the first was Leonardo the Florentine (about his years as an apprentice and early on as an independent artist), and the second, Leonardo: Masterpieces in Milan (he was hired by a duke, doing commissioned paintings, sculpture, and other works; this is where "The Last Supper" was painted).

     We recently finished the third book in the series. This isn't the last one; Catherine has already written one more novel that continues with Leonardo's further travels, inventions, and artwork. And she may be writing a fifth book in the future (and a sixth . . . ?)

We found this third book, Leonardo: To Mantua and Beyond, to be-- like the rest of the series--an interesting historical fiction account that gives us a picture of what life was like in Italy, and for an artist and inventor, during the late 1400's and early 1500's.

     In the Mantua book, the artist journeys with his friend Luca, a Franciscan monk, to the city of Mantua, Italy-- where he does some work for the Duchess Isabella-- because the French were invading Milan and it was not safe for him to stay. They spend a short while there, experiencing various entertainments with the Duke and Duchess while Leonardo also does artistic projects.

     If you've ever wondered what the city of Venice is like, the descriptions in this novel will give you an idea; later in the story, Leonardo and his friend travel there, on a project they've been called to-- to assist the Venetians in planning a defense strategy against a threat of invasion by the Turkish Sultan Bayaid.

     While in Venice they investigate the city and visit a print shop and glassblower, besides working on their military planning proposal.  Then they are about to head to Florence-- when the story ends (and we are ready now, to hear the next book in the series . . . !)

     I recently loaned two of these books to a friend who has also very much enjoyed reading them; what I like about these short novels is that they give so much description of the setting -- the Italian cities and time period of the late 1400's and early 1500's-- so that it is easy to imagine what it could have been like to be there during Da Vinci's time.  It is also a way to learn more about this famous artist and inventor and some of the things he did during his lifetime.

     Be sure to see Catherine Jaime's other books, too-- she is a prolific author with a wide variety of books-- both fiction and non-fiction.  Many of her books are about people or events in history, plus there are a variety of other topics.  She has books available through Curr Click and Amazon.

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