Portrait of a Conspiracy, Review
I was very excited for this new novel, Portrait of a Conspiracy, the start to a new series called Da Vinci’s Disciples, from Donna Russo Morin. She writes with such an elegant hand and entertains with marvelous stories.
Portrait of a Conspiracy is a bit different in overall to her other works in French or Italian courts, but she is no newbie to intrigue, spies, art or all of that sort of suspense and culture that makes me want to read books.
In this book, Donna begins it in brutal form with a murder and chaos in the streets of 15th Century Florence involving the legendary Medici family. I feel she’s pushed herself fairly farther with this book than in her others, allowing the part of her muse who enjoys horror, and causing some blood to fly, to push up onto the page. It makes for a good opening start that draws you into the story and the mystery and keeps you captivated.
Amid this turmoil, five women painters, led by the amazing Leonardo Da Vinci, are honing their art in secret as this is a time when women in the arts was not allowed or at the least ever appreciated. These female characters are the focus of the novel, with Da Vinci playing a supporting role. We learn about their painting, with overall Morin providing much descriptive detail of the time period too, and about their lives and interpersonal relations with each other. All of them are quite dimensional and built to full complex character.
Morin gives art history lovers, and art in general, wonderful details to be obsessed with as well as creates for us a perfect atmosphere of Florence and the area as the girls become amateur sleuths as well.
The suspense and conspiracy plot of the novel was also superb and it was entertaining in all its layers and sub-stories. This is the work of a seasoned novelist to provide such substance and action.
Obviously if you are historical buff or readers, you’ll also find that she has heavily researched not only the art and the times, but everything of historical record and given us accurate and logical reasoning so that we can fully immerse in the past.
I highly recommend this new more visceral and authentic method of writing by Morin, which she easily juxtaposes with her graceful phrasing and details. Well-written and dramatic! I look forward to the rest of her Da Vinci Disciples books!
Portrait of a Conspiracy: Da Vinci’s Disciples – Book One
by Donna Russo Morin
Publication Date: May 10, 2016
eBook & Paperback; 290 Pages
Genre: Historical Mystery
One murder ignites the powderkeg that threatens to consume the Medici’s Florence. Amidst the chaos, five women and one legendary artist weave together a plot that could bring peace, or get them all killed. Seeking to wrest power from the Medici family in 15th Century Florence, members of the Pazzi family drew their blades in a church and slew Giuliano. But Lorenzo de Medici survives, and seeks revenge on everyone involved, plunging the city into a murderous chaos that takes dozens of lives. Bodies are dragged through the streets, and no one is safe.
Five women steal away to a church to ply their craft in secret. Viviana, Fiammetta, Isabetta, Natasia, and Mattea are painters, not allowed to be public with their skill, but freed from the restrictions in their lives by their art. When a sixth member of their group, Lapaccia, goes missing, and is rumored to have stolen a much sought after painting as she vanished, the women must venture out into the dangerous streets to find their friend and see her safe. They will have help from one of the most renowned painters of their era the peaceful and kind Leonardo Da Vinci.
It is under his tutelage that they will flourish as artists, and with his access that they will infiltrate some of the highest, most secretive places in Florence, unraveling one conspiracy as they build another in its place. Historical fiction at its finest, Donna Russo Morin begins a series of Da Vinci’s disciples with a novel both vibrant and absorbing, perfect for the readers of Sarah Dunant.
“A riveting page-turner unlike any historical novel you’ve read, weaving passion, adventure, artistic rebirth, and consequences of ambition into the first of a trilogy by a masterful writer at the peak of her craft.” -C. W. Gortner, author of The Confessions of Catherine de’ Medici and The Vatican Princess
Donna Russo Morin, Biography
Donna Russo Morin is the award winning of author of historical fiction. A graduate of the University of Rhode Island, she lives near the shore with her two sons, Devon and Dylan, her greatest works in progress.
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