The Medici Boy Review
Publication date: April 1, 2014 by Astor + Blue
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: Publisher for an honest review
The worlds of art, politics and passion collide in John L’Heureux’s masterful new novel, The Medici Boy. With rich composition, L’Heureux ingeniously transports the reader to Donatello’s Renaissance Italy—directly into his bottega, (workshop), as witnessed through the eyes of Luca Mattei, a devoted assistant. While creating his famous bronze of David and Goliath, Donatello’s passion for his enormously beautiful model and part time rent boy, Agnolo, ignites a dangerous jealousy that ultimately leads to Agnolo’s brutal murder. Luca, the complex and conflicted assistant, will sacrifice all to save the life of Donatello, even if it means the life of the master sculptor’s friend and great patron of art, Cosimo de’ Medici. John L’Heureux’s long-awaited novel delivers both a monumental and intimate narrative of the creative genius, Donatello, at the height of his powers. With incisive detail, L’Heureux beautifully renders the master sculptor’s forbidden homosexual passions, and the artistry that enthralled the powerful and highly competitive Medici and Albizzi families. The finished work is a sumptuously detailed historical novel that entertains while it delves deeply into both the sacred and the profane within one of the Italian Renaissance’s most consequential cities, fifteenth century Florence.
The Medici Boy by John L'Heureux is an interesting book for a number of reasons. Despite the title, the boy referenced is not a Medici, but a particularly beautiful model that Donatello uses as inspiration for several of his artworks. He is also a foster brother of sorts to Donatello's assistant, Luca. The novel is told from Luca's point of view and provides the reader with his own opinions of the model Agnolo and his lifestyle as well as details about his own life and life in Florence.
The Medici Boy is a detailed look at the artistic scene and lifestyle in Florence during the Renaissance. I was fascinated with the historical detail included in the novel. There is also a lot of attention paid to the sexual exploits of Agnolo and Donatello and the political atmosphere and how it played a role in the events in the story. I was fascinated with the detailed explanations given about the production of the amazing pieces of art referenced in the novel and did a fair amount of Googling to look at photos of the pieces.
The Medici Boy might be a good choice for those adult readers who enjoy historical fiction - particularly historical fiction about the Italian Renaissance and artists.