Joining Kat and friends for Unraveled Wednesday.
Oil and Marble by Stephanie Storey. This novel covers the period from 1499 to 1504, concentrating on the final three years of that time, when the rivals Leonardo* and Michelangelo were both in Florence. This former art history major loved it. Leonardo is nearing fifty, and his talents — as a painter, sculptor, scientist, engineer — are in high demand. His nickname is Il Maestro, but it could just as easily been Il Dandy for his lively and stylish garb. He is elegant and aloof, in contrast to the twenty-four-year-old scruffy, moody sculptor, Michelangelo. The younger man has just come off carving his celebrated Pietà in Rome and is coming home to his family; his father despises him as just another dirty stonemason. The two artists compete for attention and, more importantly, the right to carve a huge block of marble into a standing David. We now know that the scruffy, moody younger man won that competition and carved a masterpiece. Leonardo went on to paint the Mona Lisa, a portrait of a silk merchant’s young wife on whom the artist has a crush. The writing here is straightforward; it reminded me of any number of young adult books. But after getting used to that style I found this book fascinating. 4✭
The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz. Protagonist is a would-be novelist teaching creative writing. His first book was a smash hit, but his second one bombed, and he hasn’t been able to write anything decent since. At a two-week seminar one of the students describes the plot of the novel he plans to write. However, he dies in an accident and the book is never published. When protagonist learns of the student’s death, he uses the plot to write a novel… which goes platinum. He worries that that long-ago student might have described the book to a friend or relative, and he lives in fear that his new-found fame will evaporate. 3✭
Ocean Prey by John Sandford. A Lucas Davenport book with an appearance by Virgil Flowers — what’s not to like? The Davenport and Flowers series are pretty much always excellent. The characters are intelligent and a bit sarcastic, so the dialogue is entertaining. In this one there was a shooting of three Coast Guard seamen, a crime that remains unsolved after several months, even with a task force peopled with agents from the FBI, the Coast Guard, the DEA, several sheriffs’ offices, and local police. Of course, Davenport and partner succeed, but only after ~300 pages. I read it in one sitting. 4✭
The Rose Code by Kate Quinn. This is another book set during WWII with a plot that centers on spycraft, in particular, code breaking. The protagonists are three vastly different young women who are recruited to work at Bletchley Park, where a captured German Enigma machine makes the code breaking far faster and easier. The audiobook is almost 16 hours long; I have 4 hours left. I suspect I will not want it to end. 4✭
a* (historical note)The author won me over by properly referring to Leonardo only by his first name; having been born out of wedlock, custom at the time deprived him of a surname. So when someone refers to him as Da Vinci, you will know they are not as educated as they might think.