- Paperback: 158 pages
- Publisher: Jorge Pinto Books Inc. (May 6, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1934978620
- ISBN-13: 978-1934978627
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 6 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,797,034 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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My Life with BERTI SPRANGER Paperback – May 6, 2015
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The Amazon Book Review
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MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW "Erudite, deftly crafted, and an inherently fascinating read from first page to last, "My Life with Berti Spranger" is one of those novels that will linger in the mind and memory long after it is finished and set back upon the shelf."
FOREWORD BOOK REVIEW "An intriguing plot and engaging story highlight this tale of love and art... stars an art collector who discovers a memoir by sixteenth-century erotic painter Bartholomaeus Spranger. Siroka's own illustrations accompany the text and are another highlight."
About the Author
Eva Jana Siroka, an art historian and artist born in Bratislava, Slovakia, received her doctorate at Princeton University. A Renaissance scholar with interest in princely patronage, especially Rudolfine Prague, she has been drawn to Spranger's art for decades. In 2005, she published her novel Maddalena with the artist as a central character. Since 1971 (B.F.A, Hunter College, CUNY), her training in art history and fine arts has merged together with her academic and creative writing, and her art. A professional artist with works in North America and Europe, the author is currently preparing exhibitions in Princeton and Toronto. Inspired by Spranger's original drawings and period prints, she has illustrated the current book and designed its cover.
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Spranger's and Rudolf's escapades burn deeply into the historic fabric of the novel. Siroka's writing is evocative and enjoyable, and it's easy to forget that it's based on scholarship. Berti is inspired by Siroka's extensive research for her doctoral thesis in the museums, libraries, photographic cabinets, and archives around the world, and her contacts with leading experts in the field.
Set against the backdrop of a dissolute court and an eccentric emperor increasingly less connected to his duties, Spranger, a chastened womanizer, falls in love with 14-year-old Christine, an intelligent young woman interested in collecting precious stones and minerals. Along the way, the artist hobnobs with the giants of the time. Spranger's "memoir," discovered by Van de Graeff in Vienna and drenched with the old man's fear of dying without confession and absolution, has resonant implications for the extremely wealthy bachelor coming to terms with his own complicated love life, particularly as the head of an important European art auction house.
Never told before, My Life with Berti Spranger is a rich tale of love, lust, and the ceaseless quest to find meaning in life. Eva Siroka has given us the gift of an art history course wrapped in a down-to-earth compelling story. One wonders, with some excitement, what she has in store for Book Three.
I prefer non-fiction. But before long, I was caught up in two separate story lines illustrated by the author, the second one involving Karolina, a young history student hired by Pieter to translate the manuscript. Their tale is set in several European cities as well as in New York and Princeton, where Pieter and Karo meet to visit the first art exhibition on the artist in the United States. Separated by more than four centuries and featuring plots with a distinct narrative voice, the parallel stories mirror each other as they follow the highly amorous escapades of the Flemish lothario and become involved in the process. With great attention to detail, and references to real events on the contemporary art market scene (not typical in a historical novel), the plot moves with an amazing speed and grips the reader until the last word. Pieter and Karo, two people from completely different stations in life are so real that when I finished the story, I instantly hoped that the author would write a sequel to their tale.
Spranger's fancy memoir turns out to be an old man's apology for sleeping around with women while married to girl whom he adored. He also worked for a raunchy bachelor emperor who loved women and men, and his erotic paintings. There are a few too many historic bits in his memoir, but the intimate tales of Berti's life at Rudolf's court make E.L. James' novel seem like a tedious sex babble of an author who has little else to say. Instead, My Life with Berti brings to mind Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, although it's not a crime story, but has a solid hook on Pieter's and Karo's unusual relationship. I kept racing through the book, only to realize that the ending was a totally unexpected surprise!