Leonardo's Swans

Leonardo's Swans

by Karen Essex
4.3 24

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Overview

Leonardo's Swans by Karen Essex

Isabelle d’Este, daughter of the Duke of Ferrara, born into privilege and the political and artistic turbulence of Renaissance Italy, is a stunning black-eyed blond and an art lover and collector. Worldly and ambitious, she has never envied her less attractive sister, the spirited but naïve Beatrice, until, by a quirk of fate, Beatrice is betrothed to the future Duke of Milan. Although he is more than twice their age, openly lives with his mistress, and is reputedly trying to eliminate the current duke by nefarious means, Ludovico Sforza is Isabella’s match in intellect and passion for all things of beauty. Only he would allow her to fulfill her destiny: to reign over one of the world’s most powerful and enlightened realms and be immortalized in oil by the genius Leonardo da Vinci. Isabella vows that she will not rest until she wins her true fate, and the two sisters compete for supremacy in the illustrious courts of Europe.

A haunting novel of rivalry, love, and betrayal that transports you back to Renaissance Italy, Leonardo’s Swans will have you dashing to the works of the great master—not for clues to a mystery but to contemplate the secrets of the human heart.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385517669
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/10/2006
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 347,372
File size: 579 KB

About the Author

karen essex is an award-winning journalist, a screenwriter, and the author of two acclaimed biographical novels, Kleopatra and Pharaoh.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Leonardo's Swans 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
dll More than 1 year ago
With the landslide of women's historical fiction triggered mostly by Phillipa Gregory (unfortunately, in my opinion), it is a relief to find an interesting and historically accurate novel. The author relies on her ablities to describe and conjecture about the women within historically accurate surroundings and events rather than full blown sex scenes to propel the reader's interest. Further, there is comparitively speaking, very little good historical fiction written about the area which later became Italy (or any other country that is not either England or Scotland) during the 15th and 16th centuries, yet many historically defining events occured within the region. I recommend it highly - for newbies it gives a taste of what well-written historical fiction can really be like, and for those of us who have been reading historical fiction for 30 years or more, it helps flesh out a time when all areas of life were being turbulently and thrillingly changed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Beatrice and Isabella d'Este, two 16th-century noblewomen, are depicted here as sisters who love each other dearly despite their ongoing rivalry. Both of them marry well (though not always happily), and as patronesses of the arts are closely associated with Leonardo da Vinci. This fictional recreation of their lives as young women is lively and fascinating. Both are strong-minded and independent, and would probably have made better rulers than their husbands in their respective cities of Milan and Mantua. The author's historical notes about the characters are an added bonus at the end of the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Karen Essex does an incredible job of bringing these historical characters to life. I found myself engrossed in these people's lives and this moment in Italian history. I've read a number of historical fiction from this period, and Leonardo's Swans is by far my favorite! Great read. Highly recommend!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
if you like history in Renaissance Italy.1490-1550..you will love it...while these events happened Christopher Columbus was just discovering America........
AlisaLorrine More than 1 year ago
After reading this book, I wanted to go back in time and meet (at least the fictional version) of Leonardo. Beatrice and Isabella are such polar opposite characters, and their lives are full of intrigue and plot twists. Sticks pretty true to historical facts, Essex has tied in fiction seamlessly. Gorgeous writing style, character development and plot. I sure wish I had my own treasury room like Beatrice!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was very good, I still think that The Other Boleyn Girl is the best historical fiction book I have ever read, but this novel took me into the Italian times of Leonardo Da Vinci and made the author made the characters realistic through the sisterly competion, which occurs with all siblings and people. I'm not sure if I liked the ending, but I liked the book overall. It was a fantastic way to start my summer reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
LEONARDO¿S SWANS by Karen Essex is a tempestuous tale of two sisters. The sisters in question are Isabella and Beatrice D¿Este. In personality and looks they are very different but their lives are intertwined in the turbulent history of the Italian city-states during the Renaissance. A third character is braided into this very readable historical novel ¿ Leonardo (da Vinci). Here he is called the Magistro, and the portrait of him comes across as an enigmatic but truthful image of the artist/engineer. Essex has a way of allowing the reader to enter into the history through the characters. It is a well-written novel with each of the chapters bearing the title of a Tarot card. Nice touch since the Sforza-Visconti¿s had some influence on the Renaissance invention. ¿ Leslie Strang Akers
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just read Leonardo's Swans, which I thought was simply fantastic. It was brought even more to life by the lively read by the author, Karen Essex, who swung through Pasadena on a book tour. The characters are beautifully and specifically drawn and it is simply fascinating to finally learn of the other components, namely the women, in Da Vinci's life. I was both educated AND entertained. I couldn't recommend this book more highly!
GailCooke More than 1 year ago
Historical fiction at its finest aptly describes 'Leonardo's Swans,' which is rich in period detail and court intrigue. A voice performance at its finest is also an appropriate description of Elizabeth Sartre's narration. She brings alive the longings and loves of two sisters in Renaissance Italy. Ferrara is home to Isabella and Beatrice. They're close together in age but miles apart in ersonality. 'Beatrice is a puzzle to Isabella, a fact that the older sister blames on the girl's unsupervised upbringing in wild Naples.' Isabella is engaged to Francesco, while the younger Beatrice will wed Ludovico, the future Duke of Milan. These marriages had been arranged when the girls were 5 and 6 years of age. It little mattered at the time which girl would be wed to which man as long as the match was beneficial for the city-state of Ferrara. In later life the girls will be rivals as Isabella catches the eye of Ludovico, a man lacking in morals with a beautiful mistress, to say nothing of being her brother-in-law. He may have met his match in the ambitious Isabella who would use him so that his court painter, Leonardo da Vinci, might capture her image in oils. These maneuverinsg are set against the plotting of France's rulers to invade Italy. Essex depicts the Renaissance with all its ribaldry and rivalry - wonderful listening! - Gail Cooke
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Timeless sister/BFF love. Beatrice's story retold. Several websites hace good stories inventsd