The Botticelli Secret
by Marina Fiorato
St Martins Press 2010
This is the (fictional) secret of the Primavera - the painting by Alessandro Botticelli painted in 1482. This painting plays a huge part in this novel. In fact it is the map of the journey taken by the 2 main characters.
The year is 1482. Ludovico de Medici (Il Magnifico) of Florence has hatched a plan to unify seven great city states into one empire just like the old Roman Empire.
Luciana Vetra is a 16 year old whore in Florence. She accidently discovers knowledge of this plan to unify the city states and also finds a guide to help her - a monk called Brother Guido. Guido and Luciana journey to each of these great city states to uncover the truth and to prevent the unification.
One city state stands alone outside and against this plan. Only one city state can prevent this catastrophe. These cities are named in the painting by Botticelli - the one called Spring or Primavera.
The cities represented by the figures in the Primavera are (from left to right) -
The order of the journey however was different. Luciana and Guido travelled from Florence to Pisa, Naples, Rome, Florence again, Venice, Bolzano, Milan, Genoa and finally to Pisa again.
This story is told from Luciana's point of view. Luciana is a smart and feisty girl. She learns fast and she picks things up in groups of three. All through the novel she tells us of things, items and facts she has learned - always in groups of three.
Two other famous historical characters are also mentioned in this novel - Cristoforo (no last name) a map maker from Genoa, and Leonardo da Vinci, an engineer designing war machines.
An excellent story - I thoroughly enjoyed it.