For almost 50 years of my life reading has been my deepest and most abiding passion. In that time I have read many books which excitement and compulsion meant I had to immediately read again. Some, a few only out of tens of thousands, I found utterly phenomenal and knew I would read again and again. Why? Because they left me stunned and, indeed, a deeply changed person with a refreshed view of the world, a brighter understanding of history and spirituality and my own human condition . This is such a book. This is one of a few. This is one of the priceless ones which only comes along once in a long while.
From the beginning there is no way of the reader anticipating where the curiosity for a heartbreakingly beautiful old painting of a Mother and Child will take its owner. Only after decades of it hanging in her family home does she seriously decide to investigate both it and other objects and artworks which came with it; a bequest to her father, a doctor, from a grateful patient and friend. If the painting itself was not enough the collection included engravings, one a mysterious map, conspiratorially commissioned by King Louis XIV of France, of areas controlled by the Knights Templar around their naval base of Marseilles before their supposed demise in the early 14th century. It is one of only four copies. But even her father could not tell his daughter what they all meant, if anything. Or so it seemed until after he passed away, when it was discovered that he had left a vital clue to her in pursuit of her investigations. One that would lead to a 14th century document, scandalously ignored both in Scottish and British history which, amongst the other spectacular revelations it contains, was actually the foundation stone of the American Declaration of Independence!Read more ›
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I bought this book thinking it would have some scientific evidence to back it up. Perhaps the paint had been analysed and found to been made from identical source materials to those known to have been used by Da Vinci. Perhaps carbon 14 dating, perhaps some sort of record of ownership going back centuries, but no...none of that.
Instead we are treated to Knights Templars, a pregant Mary Magdelene, Rosslyn Chapel and an author who quotes from Dan Brown, Andrew Sinclair, Baigent, Lincoln et. al. Add to that lots of 'could be', 'possibly', 'maybe', "I think', with very little in the way of proof and you'll get the picture. By the end of the book not only was I tired of reading it, but I half expected mention of martians and UFOs.
Among the places that gets a mention is the lovely church at Dervaig on Mull. News for the author....it is not 'on the way' to Iona (from the mainland) unless you took some hell of a roundabout route and furthermore the stainglass window featuring the 'pregnant Magdalene' is not ancient.
Try reading the actual historical records that are available and you'll find that old St Clair of Rosslyn fame, actually assisted in the prosecution of the Templars and was a devout catholic. There is nothing to indicate that he was a Templar, quite the opposite.
And please, what is all that stuff about Jesus in a 'plaid' bonnet at Rosslyn? First of all, 'plaid' is a term mainly used in North America, why don;t you call it tartan, the term used in Scotland? But most of all, do you really think that people were running around Scotland wearing 'Hello Jimmy' hats when Rosslyn Chapel was built?Read more ›
I absolutely adored this book. To say it was life changing is putting it mildly. Fiona's through and probing research captivated my interest and attention - far more than Dan Brown's Da Vinci code. I loved learning more about Leonardo and his beliefs and the mysteries embedded in the portrait. As she writes, " Nothing is there by chance, everything is meant to convey a truth, a story." I've seen with my own eyes what Fiona conveys. Very powerful! How lucky is Fiona, and in turn how lucky are we, that she inherited what is believed to be an original da Vinci and has made it her quest to share her knowledge with us.
I originally came across Da Vinci's Last Commission while researching my book of art related fiction Mona Lisa's Secret and had assumed it was also a fictional account. I recall the day I opened the book vividly - it was a solar eclipse - there was a magic and power in the air. I walked around Wellington's South Coast, sat down upon the grass by the sea and read the first page and was hooked instantly. Unlike Dan Brown's DA Vinci code - which I have read other reviewers compare this book with - Da Vinci's Last Commission is not a sensationalised work of fiction but a true story born of fact and meticulous research.
As Fiona writes, "He that hath ears to hear, let him hear" from the Gospel of Mary Magdalene (which I had never heard of before). I heard so many things I had never before questioned yet had always felt a sense of disquiet about. reading this book was a wonderful wake-up call.
If you are looking for an intriguing, compelling and thoroughly captivating read and love art Da Vinci's Last Commission is a must.
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