Leonardo’s Swans …a review

“Worldly and ambitious, Isabella d’Este is a legendary beauty and when she weds the Marquis of Mantua, all her dreams seem to come true. Superior in looks and intellect to her sister, the spirited but naive Beatrice, Isabella believes she is destined to rule the courts of Italy.

But her triumph is short-lived. When Beatrice is betrothed to Ludovico, the Duke of Milan, Isabella finds herself drawn to her sister’s husband, a man as dangerous as he is charismatic. Locked in a fierce rivalry, the sisters fight for Ludovico’s affections and for the larger prize, to be immortalized by his court painter, Leonardo da Vinci. Meanwhile Da Vinci fights a battle of his own, to escape the incessant pressure of his noble patrons.

But in a treacherous political climate, immortality through art becomes a luxury, and the two sisters must choose between loyalty and survival.”

~ From Amazon.

Karen Essex is a fantastic writer. I have no idea why she isn’t very very famous! The way she writes brings about a tremendous drama in everything historic. She gives personalities to characters, Jesus, Mary, the Italian and french princesses, and even Leonardo da Vinci. I fell in love with Stealing Athena when I read it and have been wanting to read other stuff since then. Coincidentally, I had found it in a second hand bookstore in India and I found this one in a Charity shop in Edinburgh!

Beatrice and Isabella are both strong minded women, they do not bend in front of each other, their husbands, or even their husbands’ benefactors. They are completely different from each other, yet gracious, generous, beautiful, and charming each in her own way. They are both immortalised in da Vinci’s paintings in italy, I hope I meet them someday…


Anyway, I have had ten days of lovely encounters with Italian courts in the 15th century and the man da Vinci himself! I highly recommend this book and now I want to read Kleopatra!

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