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Leonardo's Swans

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Originally published: New York: Doubleday, 2006.

Customer Review Snapshot

3.2 out of 5 stars
6 total reviews
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Most helpful positive review
This really is a fabulous read. The interweavings of the Este sisters lives and that of Leonardo da Vinci is quite brilliant. You not only get a sense of the life style of those times, but a deeper look at the intricacies of that time. THe two sisters are wonderfully portrayed and their distinct and different personalites shiine through. Fans of this historical period should most definately read this one.

About This Item

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Originally published: New York: Doubleday, 2006.
Isabella and Beatrice d'Este are as different as night and day. Wordly and ambitious Isabella's beauty and intellect are legendary across the courts of Europe while her younger sister a tomboy prefers horses and the hunt. When Isabella is betrothed to the Marquis of Mantua all her ambitions seem to come true - until Beatrice marries Ludovico.

Specifications

Publisher
Arrow Books
Book Format
Paperback
Number of Pages
422
Author
Karen Essex
ISBN-13
9780099493068
Publication Date
April, 2007
Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)
7.76 x 5.04 x 1.06 Inches
ISBN-10
0099493063

Customer Reviews

5 stars
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1-5 of 6 reviews

This really is a fabul...

This really is a fabulous read. The interweavings of the Este sisters lives and that of Leonardo da Vinci is quite brilliant. You not only get a sense of the life style of those times, but a deeper look at the intricacies of that time. THe two sisters are wonderfully portrayed and their distinct and different personalites shiine through. Fans of this historical period should most definately read this one.

I read this book a few...

I read this book a few years ago, and liked it a lot more then. I don't know why I didn't notice the things that I disliked so much this time before, but they seemed glaringly evident during this read. Don't get me wrong, historically and setting wise, this book was wonderful, and in my opinion, the male character were done fairly well. The female characters who lead the story however, were not so. I felt as though their relationships and feelings towards one another were too quickly changing and though I know that relationships between siblings can be tumultuous, this seemed forced somehow. In any case, it wasn't an entirely bad story, just had some parts that I disliked, and for a story focusing on two women, I thought it could have been done better. It's still a decent book in the historical fiction genera.

My favorite thing abou...

My favorite thing about this book is that it exposed me to some very interesting people who lived in 15th century Italy. Without it I may have never heard about the incredible Isabella d'Este, may have never looked up the paintings mentioned in this book, may have never thought about Leonardo da Vinci as a man outside of his work. Ms. Essex did a great job of getting into the women's heads and showing us what they thought and felt at the most important times of their lives. I preferred Isabella not because her character was easier to relate to but because her sections were deeper, more intimate. She was a woman of great intellect, an art connoisseur, a formidable opponent for any man in the political arena as well as a woman of great beauty, grace and charm. It was fascinating to learn about her and I intend to read more about her in the future. Leonardo da Vinci is a prominent character in this book but we never get to hear about the events from him. He is always talked about by either Esabella or Beatrice and while their descriptions paint an interesting portrait (no pun intended) it would've been very interesting to get his take on the events of the time and the people with whom he was in such close contact. Throughout the book there are excerpts from Leonardo's notes that are both his reflections about the subjects of his studies and to-do lists that give us a glimpse into the mundane part of his life. These excerpts are not invention of the author, they are actually taken from da Vinci's notebooks and effectively bring the reader closer to the time and the characters of the book. As impressed as I was by the characters this book fell a bit flat for me because of the writing. The narrative went from lively scenes that were very engaging to sections that read more like a chronicle and back. Because of this the novel didn't hold my interest as much as it could have and I had no trouble setting it down and sometimes even found myself zoning out during the accounts of who invaded whom and who was suspected of whose death. The fact that the narrative often changed between past and present tense from one paragraph to the next didn't help eather and even though eventually I managed to ignore the back and forth between the "is" and the "was" the challenge of having to do it detracted from the enjoyment of the book. I would recommend this novel to those readers who are interested in learning about Italy at that tumultuous time in history, enjoy fascinating characters and feel they'll be able to ignore the inconsistencies in tense and less than stellar bridges between the scenes that actually had some life to them.

I picked this up in th...

I picked this up in the hopes of reading a fictional story about Leonardo da Vinci and people that surrounded him. While it is true that he plays a role in this novel, he takes a back seat to the d'Este sisters. The story surrounding the sisters was interesting and intriguing, enough to make me finish the book, however I was unsatisfied overall. When I started to read this, I was hoping for a book similar to Sarah Dunant's The Birth of Venus or Susan Vreeland's The Passion of Artemisia, something that expounded on the life of the artist. This is worth a read if you have never heard of these people (excluding Leonardo, as you won't get much information here other than a brief overview of his personality) and are interested in the time period, including the natural intrigue that comes along with a royal-like court.

Thought I was going to...

Thought I was going to hate it but ended up loving it. A story of two sisters. A story of Leonardo da Vinci. Check it out. Synopsis: The story revolves around two sisters, Isabella and Beatrice d'Este. Isabella is the typical blond gorgeous beauty. And Beatrice is the younger, more wild and less traditionally beautiful sister. At first Isabella is ecstatic that she is engaged to handsome young Marquess of Mantua. And they are actually in love with each other. And poor Beatrice. She is engaged to the OLD Duke of Milan, Ludovico "Il Moro" Sforza,. I mean, hey, he's a Duke, but he's so old! The Duke is known for being wealthy, having mistresses, and being a patron to Leonardo da Vinci. He's also known for having Leonardo paint portraits of his mistresses. A famous example is the portrait of his favorite mistress, Cecilia Gallerani entitled "Lady with an Ermine." But against all odds, when Beatrice marries The Duke, this wild, dark-haired, lover of horses gets her husband to fall in love with her. And she become a great Duchess. And Isabella is at odds. Now she is slightly jealous. She's not a Duchess and she's never going to be immortalized by Leonardo da Vinci...like Beatrice will be. Not that Beatrice cares. So I thought I wasn't going to like this book because I thought Isabella was going to be a scheming evil sister and poor Beatrice was going to get trampled over by The Duke. But that's not what happened. Even though the sisters are separated, through their letters and life circumstances, they actually become fairly close and bond. I loved watching that unfold. And Beatrice became my favorite. She became such a strong capable Duchess able to woo and win her husband while becoming a fairly apt ruler herself. While this would have been an interesting story on it's own, folded in is the story of Leonardo's time under the patronage of The Duke. So we get to see tidbits of his life and art during this period and how and why he made them.

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Electrode, Comp-283025121, DC-prod-dfw7, ENV-prod-a, PROF-PROD, VER-30.0.3-ebf-2, SHA-8c8e8dc1c07e462c80c1b82096c2da2858100078, CID-100aade1-b59-16ee2f04a180e9, Generated: Sun, 08 Dec 2019 00:37:08 GMT