I am a former stay-at-home mom who has given up her hopes and dreams of becoming a professional reader. I now spend my days showing small children how to play games on computers. Right now I'm living vicariously through my 9 year-old who is reading everything she can get her hands on.
I really wanted to like this book. I really did. If I hadn't committed myself to reading this book for Historical Mystery Monopoly, I would have given up about half way in. I had promised myself this was going to be the year I worked on my inability to put aside books that don't hold my interest. In my defense, this is really the first book I've read all year that I finished while wondering why I continued to torture myself.
I've seen so many other reviews that paint the protagonist, Luciana, as some sort of wondrous heroine and a breath of fresh air. I even read reviews that applauded her constant desire for sex as honest and welcoming. Maybe I read a different book. The Luciana I saw was a brainless, silly girl. She had to be completely brainless to allow for Brother Guido to step in and throw countless, drawn out information drops and conspiracy theories at the reader.
I will give the author credit for her research and creativity. The plot is creative. The theory surrounding Botticelli's secret message within the painting is nothing short of brilliant. However, the reader never really gets a chance to feel like they are knee deep in some sort of Renaissance Dan Brown concoction. Before you have a chance to work things out on your own, Brother Guido is off on yet another boring monologue, spoon-feeding the reader everything.
This review may come off to some as a little harsh and it probably is. I feel my disappointment with the novel matches the tone of my review. The Medici family by itself is fascinating enough on its own. Throw in the constant plotting by the church and various other Italian families against the Medici and you have enough intrigue to fill a library. (Side note: This is exactly what makes me such a huge fan of Ezio Auditore and the Assassin's Creed games) This book offered me none of the atmosphere of intrigue and scandal I am accustomed to when it comes to Renaissance Italy.