Signora Da Vinci by Robin Maxwell
Little is known about the mother of Leonardo Da Vinci, other than the fact that she was named Caterina and was not married to his father. It would seem that she must have been a special woman to have raised such a remarkable child, but historical records tell us little about her. That is where Robin Maxwell steps in with her new book, “Signora Da Vinci.”
Using the few available facts about Caterina and what she knew of Leonardo’s life, Maxwell created a very real, human figure of Signora Da Vinci. Maxwell’s Caterina first and foremost loved her son very fiercely and always tried to act in his best interest.
Caterina, as imagined by Maxwell, was a fantastic character, willing to do anything for her son, even things that could put her in great danger.. Leonardo got on my nerves a bit, but that is to be expected of someone who has always been told how fantastic he is and excels in everything. What was perhaps most interesting to me was when Maxwell wrote about the Shadow Renaissance (look for her guest post on this topic on Friday!) that centered largely around alchemy and the occult, since that is an aspect of the Renaissance we didn’t really cover in history class in school.
I thought this was a very interesting story of the Italian Renaissance. Generally I like my historical fiction to focus on real characters (in this case, characters who novelists can base in more fact), but I enjoyed Maxwell’s take on Caterina and there were plenty of better-known personages (Leonardo, Lorenzo de’Medici, Botticelli) to soak up information about as well.