The month-long blog tour arranged by my publisher, Fiery Seas, has yielded a wonderful, thoughtful review of my novel The Renaissance Club. I’m very pleased at today’s review on the book blog, What Cathy Read Next. This sensitive reviewer has visited some of the places in the book — Rome and Venice — and seen some of Bernini’s art. One of my favorite paragraphs in the review connects my writing as a poet with descriptions of the carnival of beauty that is Italian Renaissance art.
Cathy writes: “As a reader, I felt almost transported to the various artistic sites The Renaissance Club visit on their tour thanks to the author’s wonderful descriptions of church interiors, frescoes and sculptures. There are also some evocative descriptions of the cities the group visit on their tour: Rome, Siena, Assisi, Florence and Venice. For example, this description of Rome: ‘Ancient city walls next to rough-piled medieval palazzos, Egyptian obelisks rising from Baroque fountains. Rome was a hot mess of beauty.’ (I love that phrase ‘a hot mess of beauty’. If you’ve ever been there, you’ll realise how apt it is.)
“Or this description of Venice: ‘White-domed churches shouldered next to palazzos of earthy colours, and the filigreed palaces, with fluted chimneys and Juliet balconies, were jewels against the blue sky. Venice was the gaudy inheritance of a rich empire built on water, imagination, and bold ambition.’ The author also writes poetry and I got a real sense of this in some of the imaginative phrases and metaphors in the book. For instance, as May feels herself slipping between past and present: ‘The city kept doing this to her, zigzagging through its eras so fast she had time-whiplash.'”
It’s very true, that my love of the place and the art drove the creation of this story of a young art historian also in love with the magic of Italian art and architecture, and by transposition, in love with one of its chief creators, Bernini. I nearly fell in love with Bernini myself, touring the Villa Borghese, which houses so many of his creations. Especially when I stood before his life-size sculpture of David, so different and so much more dynamic than Michelangelo’s David, I wished for Bernini himself to appear. He modeled the statue on his own face, so I felt we were literally staring at each other.
Cathy’s review was summed up in three words: Imaginative, romantic, time travel. She compared The Renaissance Club to Susanna Kearsley’s The Winter Sea (a huge compliment!).
This review of my novel was thoughtful, detailed, and honest — her standards for book reviewing. I recommend this book blog, What Cathy Read Next, for the quality of reviews and for her selection of books. If you’re into reading about books as a way of finding your next good read, this is an outstanding resource.