Tuesday, April 15, 2014

BOOK REVIEW: The Medici Boy by John L'Heureux

Donatello: Art, Pain, Passion, Murder
Renowned Literary Writer Renders Controversial Life of
Mysterious Renaissance Genius

“John L’Heureux has built a gripping story of love, genius and betrayal.”
--JM Coetzee, Nobel Prize for Literature, Booker Prize Winner

“Deeply enjoyable, The Medici Boy soars like an operatic aria, before breaking our hearts.”
--David Henry Hwang, playwright, M. Butterfly, Chinglish

“L’Heureux’s is certainly one of America’s greatest living writers. I’d put him in the top ten...And now he’s come out with his first new novel in ten years, The Medici Boy, and it’s a masterpiece, the most ambitious, beautiful, and complex novel I’ve read this year…”
--David Vann, Financial Times of London

Astor + Blue Editions is proud to release perhaps the most passionate work of master storyteller, John L’Heureux, in The Medici Boy [ISBN:  978-1-938231-50-6 (Hard Cover); ISBN: 978-1-938231-48-3 (E-book); US $25.95; Historical / Literary Fiction; 346 Pages, April, 2014].  Described as “one of America’s greatest living writers” by the Financial Times of London, L’Heureux returns with a long-awaited new historical fiction novel; the result of years of research—backed by a Guggenheim Grant—on location in Europe.

In this well-conceived, historically accurate rendering, the Renaissance worlds of art, politics and passion collide. With his distinct style and rich, sinewy narrative, L’Heureux ingeniously transports the reader to Donatello’s Renaissance Italy—directly into his bottega, (workshop), as witnessed through the eyes of Luca Mattei, a devoted assistant.

While creating his famous bronze of David and Goliath, Donatello’s passion for his enormously beautiful model and part time rent boy, Agnolo, ignites a dangerous jealousy that ultimately leads to murder. Luca, the complex and conflicted assistant, will sacrifice all to save Donatello, even his master’s friend—the great patron of art, Cosimo de’ Medici.

John L’Heureux’s long-awaited hardcover delivers both a monumental and intimate narrative of the creative genius, Donatello, at the height of his powers. With incisive detail, L’Heureux artfully renders the master sculptor’s forbidden homosexual passions, and the artistry that enthralled the leading—and competing—powerbrokers of Renaissance Florence: the Medici and Albizzi families. The finished work is a sumptuously detailed narrative that entertains while it delves deeply into both the sacred and the profane within one of the Italian Renaissance’s most consequential cities, fifteenth century Florence.

Award-winning poet, novelist, and short story writer, John L’Heureux has taught at Georgetown University, Tufts, Harvard, and (for more than 35 years) in the English Department of Stanford University where he was Lane Professor of Humanities.  There he received the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and
earned it again in 1998.

A prolific writer, L’Heureux has written more than twenty books of fiction, short fiction and poetry.  His works have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, Harper’s, The New Yorker, and have been included in dozens of anthologies including Best American Stories and Prize Stories: the O. Henry Awards.

John L’Heureux has twice received writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and in 2006 he was awarded a Guggenheim Grant to do research for The Medici Boy, his new novel.

He is retired and lives in Palo Alto with his wife Joan.

My Review:

“The Medici Boy” by John L'Heureux was a great read. I love that it was written in first person, it definitely helped me to really get to know the main character, and to understand what was going on throughout the novel. I like that the narrator is a flawed character who is lead by his passions. It really helps the reader to relate to him, and to like him. I can't stand novels where I don't like the main character, so liking the main character was definitely a plus for me! The author does a great job of really taking the reader into the story. You really see how much devastation was caused by the black plague, and what the people went through because of it. I definitely felt like I was right there with the narrator. It was also interesting to see what went on behind the scenes when Donatello was creating a work of art. The author did a great job of describing everything so well that you can really picture his work. It's easy, as a reader, to imagine that things really worked like it's described in Donatello's studio. 

The book did slow down a little at times, and there were times when a lot of names, that were hard to pronounce, were mentioned so it got confusing. It got a little bogged down at times also, like a lot was happening, but it wasn’t really going anywhere. However, this didn’t take away from the overall enjoyment of the novel.

This is a great novel for lovers of historical fiction. I really felt like I learned a lot about the time period, and about different character’s in history. I would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in this time period or in historical fiction in general. 

I give this novel a FOUR out of FIVE stars.

Purchase This Novel:
Barnes & Noble:  http://bit.ly/1kkIpLL
Astor+Blue:  http://bit.ly/1dIUz2I

Free Reader's Guide

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