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The Competition: Da Vinci's Disciples - Book Two Paperback – April 25, 2017
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"THE COMPETITION is a page-turning, provocative romp through a fascinating time and place―15th-century Florence. Donna Russo Morin has given us a novel for our time, a book featuring strong female characters fighting the odds to break the “glass ceiling,” and reminding us that this battle is not new: women have been waging it for centuries. ―Sherry Jones, author of The Sharp Hook of Love: A Novel of Heloise and Abelard
“...a page-turner unlike any historical novel, weaving passion, adventure, artistic rebirth, and consequences of ambition...a masterful writer at the peak of her craft.”―C. W. Gortner, author of The Confessions of Catherine de'Medici
“A 15th-century Florence of exquisite art, sensual passion and sudden, remorseless violence comes vividly to life in Donna Russo Morin's new novel.”―Nancy Bilyeau, author of The Crown
“In Portrait of a Conspiracy, Russo Morin's rich detailing transports the reader to the heart of Renaissance Italy from the first page.”―Heather Webb, author of Becoming Josephine
“Illicit plots, mysterious paintings, and a young Leonardo da Vinci all have their part to play in this delicious, heart-pounding tale.”―Kate Quinn, author of The Empress of Rome Saga
"In elegant prose, Morin paints a captivating tale of courageous women painters who battle against prejudices in Renaissance Florence. Featuring strong women characters, each with distinctive personalities, this is exactly the type of historical novel I enjoy. Exhilarating and compassionate, The Competition sings a beautiful tribute of women's talents and underscores Morin's masterful storytelling. Delightful!"―Weina Dai Randel, author of The Moon in the Palace and The Empress of Bright Moon
“An inspiring tale of determined women, empowered by undeniable talent, in the male-dominated art world of Renaissance Florence. In The Competition, Ms. Morin delivers a captivating story rich with historical detail and beautifully woven through with atmosphere.”―Diane Haeger, author of Courtesan
About the Author
Donna earned two degrees from the University of Rhode Island. In addition to writing, teaching writing, and reviewing for literary journals, Donna works as a model and actor; highlights of her work include two seasons on Showtime’s Brotherhood and an appearance in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed. Donna is the proud mother of two sons, one a future opera singer, the other a future chef.
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Top customer reviews
My main concern, however, is what seems like a discrepancy in the plot. The women bid on the opportunity to paint the fresco of a chapel in the Palazzo della Signoria, the home of Antonio di Savestro de Serristori, but end up painting the walls of the chapel in the church of Santo Spirito, where their secret workshop is located. At first I thought they were only practicing on the church walls, but that did not seem to be the case. I found this confusing. I doubt that I will buy any more books in this series.
But Da Vinci’s Disciples – women who showed remarkable talent and are being tutored by that great master – are not content to stifle their art. They want the world to see it and so they decide to bid on an upcoming installation for a chapel. They get the begrudging permission of Lorenzo de Medici, who does not believe they have the talent or the ability and they submit their concept.
It is chosen and soon the women are not just fighting a timeline but seemingly the bulk of the citizenry of Florence as they are appalled at lowly women doing such work. But not all are against them and they buckle down under the guidance of their master and some friends of his to get the job done.
There are also some personal subplot going on for the women and for Leonardo during the course of the production of the fresco so that the reader is kept engaged not only in the creation of the artwork but in the politics of the time and the everyday goings on of well to do Florentines.
I enjoyed this book as well as I did the first and while I believe it’s to be the completion of the series it does leave things open for further exploration so a reader can hope for continuation. The background details are such that I felt like I was back in Florence walking the streets and seeing the sights of that beautiful city. Of course it has changed mightily since the 15th century but some aspects are remarkably the same. The characters are unique and well drawn and in this volume there was even a pop up appearance by my favorite artist, Michelangelo. It is always encouraging to read a book when women triumph in a time when they were not considered to be more than well, art pieces or brood mares. Enjoy the book for what it is and celebrate the joy that art brings to the world.
I received a free copy for my honest review
This is one of my favorite series set in the Renaissance! Strong unapologetic women artists who don't back down from a challenge, and expand of knowledge and minds with each novel. Will make you want to do more, shout from the rooftops, and research the period for more inspiration.
I always enjoy Russo Morin's books. She really knows how to tell a story while bringing vividly to life the real historical figures and events surrounding her characters. These women, these Da Vinci's Disciples, are the lifeblood of the story. Each woman is unique and even when brought together as a whole with the group, their individuality shines. I like to think that there really were women such as this. In fact, I'm quite sure there probably were. Perhaps they did not take on a large commission as depicted in the book, nor bid for commissions during that time period, but I like to think there was a hidden studio with women secretly working, defying society's strictures on women and what they were allowed to do.
Having Leonardo Da Vinci as an important supporting character works very well with these stories. Of what I've read on Da Vinci, I believe that he had very progressive attitudes. For him to be mentoring a group of women artists does not seem impossible to me. I love that the author used real quotes from him throughout the book. This one is my favorite and really captures the spirit of the book:
"I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. 'Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death."
However, a quote from Viviana, the central and most endearing character, in my opinion, is what spoke to me the most. It is a personal motto of mine. "We all deserve to be loved, but our first love should always be for ourselves. Without self-love and self-respect, we show others how they may treat us."
And that is the crux of this story. These women believed in themselves, believed in their talent, enough to defy society's views of what women can and cannot do. It's an inspiring work of historical fiction that should not be missed.
I received this book free of charge from the author or publisher.
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I'm a huge fan of historical fiction and The Competition DID NOT disappoint.Read more