Sunday, March 13, 2016

Portrait of Conspiracy (Da Vinci's Disciples #1) by Donna Russo Morin

One murder ignites the powder-keg 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."
Have you seen Mona Lisa Smile with Julia Roberts? That is the first thing that popped into my head while reading the novel. Portrait of Conspiracy is that kind of story, but with so much more to it. It is daring, but real and in a way so close to the heart that it instantly becomes a favourite. Donna Russo Morin has done a marvellous job with this Renaissance historical fiction, giving it the perfect balance between fact and fiction. One more time the legendary Da Vinci is made more approachable and past times have been drawn close to us, so we can endorse their wisdom and learn from their mistakes. There is sensual passion, remorseless violence, everyday struggle, but mostly there is a certain scent of womanhood to it, that drives you craze about its characters. With breathtaking descriptions and tremendous emotion, Donna Russo Morin spreads the glory of Renaissance Florence before the reader with all its  intrigue, ruthlessness and artistic wonder in Portrait of a Conspiracy: Da Vinci's Disciples Book One.
From the unique point of view of a Sisterhood of women artists, this historical look at Florence and Leonardo da Vinci is engaging and quite fulfilling, bringing the past to life in all its horror and beauty. A fantastic read! I wouldn't be surprised if it becomes a film one day. One can only hold her breath until the nest instalments comes out!

Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read this novel!
I give it 3 foxes because I am not a specialist on historical fiction, per se, but after reading this novel I am really looking for the next in the genre.