I simply loved Fiorata’s The Glassblower of Murano (set in the 1600s), and awaited her second novel with relish. The Botticelli Secret is set 200 years earlier (1480s) in Florence (and many other Italian cities)! and is a captivating read. The painting by Botticelli for the Medici family of La Primavera (the goddess Flora) is the subject of this fictional account. Fiorata researched many scholarly tomes to include much factual information, while giving this a fast paced romantic thriller read. I enjoyed reading about the painting, as much as the main characters as they develop. Luciana, the model for the painting, is an interesting choice for heroine. Part model, ‘full time whore’, humourous, and completely fascinating. The account starts because she is angry at not being paid for her modelling, so she steals the unfinished painting! Brother Guido is her counterpart, counterpoint: education, refined, naive. La Pimavera was one of Fiorata’s favourite paintings – and the books has as many secrets as the painting has opinions!
Vanora Bennett’s Portrait of an Unknown Woman is another intricate interesting read about historical figures, and history within paintings. At that book review I said I would never look at paintings the same way again, although I have always tried to determine what the painting meant, what was hidden in plain sight.
Fiorato recommended several books for further reading, which I have also particularly enjoyed: Katherine (Anya Seton), My Lady’s Crusade (Annette Motley), Leper of St Giles (Ellis Peters) and Lady of Hay (Barbara Erskine).