May 27, 2016 02:20 pm | firstname.lastname@example.org (Michelle Miller)
My thoughts Donna Russo Morin's The King's Agent remains one of my favorite historical novels so I was pretty excited when I heard about Portrait of a Conspiracy. Morin has a real knack for telling a great story with a good dose of adventure thrown in.
It's sometimes astonishing to realize that at one time women were forbidden to be publicly known as artists. And so, in the book we have a group of women who gather in secret to ply their craft. Little do they know that soon their secret society will be far more than just that. As Florence is thrown into chaos by the murder of Giuliano de Medici, the subsequent vengeance enacted by his brother, Lorenzo, and the untimely disappearance of their dear friend and member of their group, the women realize that they have the only means to discover the truth behind the fate of their friend. Aided by none other than Leonardo Da Vinci, they are soon mastering their art while also penetrating the secrets that abound in Florence. Exciting, to say the least.
Told from several points of view, I enjoyed the care with which each character was written. Each one has their cross to bear and I found myself easily identifying with them. Of course, my favorite was Leonardo. I have a fondness for this historical personage so his appearance in the book was a real treat.
Portrait of a Conspiracy is the first novel in the new Da Vinci's Disciples series, and I can't wait for book two. I highly recommend Morin's historical fiction. If you have not read her books, this would be a good one to start with.
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 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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