Traci L. Slatton
Delta, 2007 (2007)
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Reviewed by Barbara Lingens
lorence is the city for art lovers, and in
Traci Slatton has created a paean to it that is rich in pageantry. From Giotto in 1330 to Leonardo in 1497, we breathe the very air of the Renaissance, with its artistic creations and new philosophical thinking, its rich, ruling Medicis and the poor outcasts of society, and finally its old religion, through which Savonarola briefly passes to cause much ferment.
uca Bastardo is the young man through whom we experience all of this. Without parents, satisfaction in religion and a true love that he knows he must find, searching is his way of life. Early on he knows that he is different from others, that he ages hardly at all. This does not prevent him from having all sorts of wonderful adventures, which range from the most decadent to the most noble. Along the way he meets people from every station in life, including one with a donkey, both of whom are almost as long-lived as he is. The conversations we hear about the artist's great works and how they are presented makes us want to rush to look them up so we can see the same things being discussed.
n this rich depiction of Florence in all its glory, it is hard to have to make some critical comments, but several must be mentioned. The ending seems quite rushed, as if the author was trying to tie up all the loose ends in Luca's life. For us to really understand Luca's immortality, we need more than what is revealed in the last twenty pages about his background. Lucas' struggle with God also seems too easily resolved. And, several conversational expressions are more 20th century than 13th. But these are quibbles; this is a wonderful work of historical fiction and an impressive first novel.
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