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.
What I Thought
The story of two sisters and the rise and eventual fall of the city of Milan. I really wanted to love this – but I found both sisters unlikeable for different reasons which made it hard to me to really care about them throughout the novel. I love Italy, I love Milan, I love the 15th century – it had so many things going for it. Sadly Isabella is a giant snobby selfish girl and Beatrice is I think was suppose to be portrayed as ‘wild’ but it’s really more like boastfulness and has no sense. The saving grace is that everything is beautifully described and rich. Plus there is quite a bit of political intrigue which I found fascinating.