Leonardo's Swans

Leonardo's Swans

A Novel

eBook - 2006 | 1st ed
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Isabella d'Este, daughter of the Duke of Ferrara, born into privilege and the political and artistic turbulence of Renaissance Italy, is a stunning black-eyed blonde and a precocious lover and collector of art. Worldly and ambitious, she has never envied her less attractive sister, the spirited but naieve Beatrice, until, by a quirk of fate, Beatrice is betrothed to the future Duke of Milan. Although he is more than twice their age, openly lives with his mistress, and is reputedly trying to eliminate the current duke by nefarious means, Ludovico Sforza is Isabella's match in intellect and passion for all things of beauty. Only he would allow her to fulfill her destiny: to reign over one of the world's most powerful and enlightened realms and be immortalized in oil by the genius Leonardo da Vinci. Though Isabella weds the Marquis of Mantua, a man she has loved since childhood, Beatrice's fortunes rise effortlessly through her marriage to Ludovico. The two sisters compete for supremacy in the illustrious courts of Europe, and Isabella vows that she will not rest until she wrestles back her true fate and plays temptress to the sensuous Ludovico and muse to the great Leonardo. But when Ludovico's grand plan to control Europe begins to crumble, immortality through art becomes a luxury, and the two sisters must choose between familial loyalty and survival in the treacherous political climate.
Publisher: New York : Doubleday, ©2006
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780385517669
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc


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Dec 19, 2016

Was very disappointed. Lots of heavy panting , this is pretty much a Bodice ripper. Pedestrian dialogue and more heavy panting thrown in. Could not finish it.

Sep 25, 2015

Being interested in Italian history I picked up this book and was happily surprised and entertained by the storyline. It has a perfect balance of romance, betrayal, and politics. I looked up all of the portraits mentioned in this book and it gave me more of an insiders look on the characters. I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would and recommend it to anyone who wishes to jump into a brief history on two sisters and their journey of life in late 1400 Italy.

FindingJane Dec 14, 2014

This epic tale of the lives of two very different sisters and the various personalities that make up their lives is one of sweeping grandeur and painful intimate moments. Religion, politics, artistry, warfare, romance and domestic travails all take their place as the two sisters attempt to negotiate the tricky waters in which they swim. In an era in which women fell or rose by the behaviors of their husbands, Isabella and Beatrice d’Este prove to have both tender hearts and steely backbones.

Working from letters and old documents, Ms. Essex has limned their remarkable strengths and weaknesses in exquisite detail. She also manages to weave in the various politicos and religious clergy who held such mighty sway in that bygone era. She elegantly captures the glory, beauty and grandiosity of houses so fabulously wealthy that jewels for a new gown were carried from their vaults in buckets.

Rising like a mythical Titan above it all is the elusive, contradictory and majestic Leonardo da Vinci, known as Magistro by all of his wealthy patrons. He too manages to captivate the reader with his odd interests in the interiors of human beings, the posterior of animals and his attention to mathematics and science. Baffling and infuriating his patrons with his procrastinations, he is yet given such leeway that he lives in the lap of luxury for decades while putting off painting or sculpting one commissioned work after another.

The author provides no traditional happy ending; both Isabel and Beatrice were unhappy with their husbands. But she posits that both knew the importance of handling men and each managed to do so in her unique way. Ms. Essex also manages to bring out the pagan and sacred in her book, most tellingly by naming each chapter with a tarot card. Who ultimately is responsible for our fates: Chance or God? Wisely, she leaves that for the reader to decide.

Nov 25, 2013

We read this book to one another while traveling in Northern Italy to Ferrara and Montova. My husband and I really liked the story especially since we had an opportunity to see paintings of Isabella and a bust of Beatrice her sister. Learned a lot about powerful families in Italy and how daughters are married off to make good alliances. And the story included Leonardo Da Vinci. It is worth the read. Goes well with the book on the Borgia family by Dunnett.

Aug 10, 2010

Excellent read, had no idea these were true historical characters. Enjoyed the storyline which incorporated Leonard Da Vinci. Would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about true historical characters that are developed into somewhat fictional stories.

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Sep 24, 2015

eichlerdbrent thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


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