From 1501 to 1505, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti both lived and worked in Florence. Leonardo was a charming, handsome 50-year-old at the peak of his career. Michelangelo was a temperamental sculptor in his mid-20s, desperate to make a name for himself.
Michelangelo is a virtual unknown when he returns to Florence and wins the commission to carve what will become one of the most famous sculptures of all time: David. Even though his impoverished family shuns him for being an artist, he is desperate to support them. Living at the foot of his misshapen block of marble, Michelangelo struggles until the stone finally begins to speak. Working against an impossible deadline, he begins his feverish carving.
Meanwhile, Leonardo's life is falling apart: He loses the hoped-for David commission; he can't seem to finish any project; he is obsessed with his ungainly flying machine; he almost dies in war; his engineering designs disastrously fail; and he is haunted by a woman he has seen in the market - a merchant's wife, whom he is finally commissioned to paint. Her name is Lisa, and she becomes his muse.
Leonardo despises Michelangelo for his youth and lack of sophistication. Michelangelo both loathes and worships Leonardo's genius.
Oil and Marble is the story of their nearly forgotten rivalry. Storey brings early 16th-century Florence alive and has entered with extraordinary empathy into the minds and souls of two Renaissance masters. The book is an art history thriller.
©2016 Stephanie Storey (P)2016 Audible, Inc.
I am perhaps being a little unfair in only giving this one star, since I only got about four minutes in. I was fascinated by the blurb and synopsis, and the cover looks lovely (literally enacted a cliché right there - never judge a book by it's cover). I should have listened to the sample first.
This could be the best and most fascinating book in the world.
I will never know, because listening to the narrator was like chewing foil.
A friend recommended this magnificent story about the art geniuses of the Middle Ages. It is a imaginative story of inspiration, rivalry, dedication and uncertainty.
It parallels the divine discomfort that can accompany undertakings large and small.
The moment I hit play, I couldn't put my phone down. My passion and intrigue for the setting and historical figures involved along with the fantastic writing and narration led to a great listening experience. As if that weren't enough, this work is filled with worthwhile life lessons that stand to enrich the lives of those who take them to heart. As an artist myself, this book gave me a great deal of inspiration and drive to create my best work.
"Fact and Fiction Fuse for a Great Listen"
I rarely read book reviews until after I have read the book and posted my own, but in this case I made an exception because the genre is so far outside of that which I usually read. What I found were some wonderful reviews written by some very enthusiastic and seemingly knowledgeable art lovers, so, as one who knows very little about art, my review will be from a very non-arty-type point of view.
I did find it a little hard to get immersed in the story, but once I changed my mindset from worrying about what is fact and what is fiction to one of simply listening to and enjoying the story for what it is, (fiction loosely based on fact) I really got into it and enjoyed it.
No art expertise required!
The main story is, of course, based on the rivalry between da Vinci and Michelangelo, both being attributed with artistic temperaments and each man being highly reactive to the achievements of the other. Each artist is featured in alternating chapters; their lives, families, loves and their careers, the highs and the lows.
Despite the rivalry and dislike between the two men, the older daVinci is shocked and distressed when he hears that Michelangelos' completed statue of David might have suffered damage at the hands of vandals. This revealed another side to his character; the side that believes that, above all else, art is everything.
I enjoyed the chapters about daVinci more so than those about Michelangelo, I'm not sure why, maybe because he was older and had more interesting things going on in his life; the account of his attempt to re-route the river in order to prevent flooding was fascinating to me. He seemed always to be working on various projects, improving the old and inventing the new.
Michelangelo seemed to have but one obsession, his "David", he also seemed to spend a great deal of time feeling hard done by and sorry for himself, but then, those characteristics may have been the result of the authors artistic licence.
I loved the accounts of how people lived in those times, the streets, the buildings, the food and drink, their clothing. I can't imagine how many hours that the author would have spent in researching this for her work, dedication indeed!
I would highly recommend this book to those who love historical fiction, but art lovers, especially those who are really knowledgable, do need to bear in mind that, despite the factual content, it is a work off fiction.
A narration of well over 13 hours and with many characters is no mean undertaking and I admire the narrator, P. J. Ochlan, for his consistency. Each character has an Italian accent and P.J. Ochlan succeeded in giving each one a distinct voice, I enjoyed them all, I thought he captured the complaining tone of Michelangelo perfectly.
I did find that listening to the Italian accents a bit wearing, but that really is just a personal preference, many audiobook listeners believe that accents add a nice touch of authenticity.
Audiobook provided by the author, narrator or publisher in return for an unbiased review
"Where is Edoardo Ballerinin when you need him?"
This was a fascinating story with an awful reader. My favorite reader Edoardo Ballerini could have made this 5 stars all the way. Instead I had to listen to horrible Italian accents and very draggy reading style. I loved the book, I didn't know anything about the rivalry between DaVinci and Michelangelo so that was quite interesting. Having been to Italy and being lucky enough to see David, the Pieta and the Sistine chapel - it was fun to listen to historical fiction surrounding these amazing works of art. Read the book instead or at least I warned you about the narration.
"EVERYBODY TALK-A LIKE DIS!"
Pretty good tale poorly told. The narrator speaks every sentence like it is an all-caps newspaper headline, no dynamic subtlety whatsoever. Also, why in the world do characters need accents when they are all speaking the same language, Italian?! The accents were cheesy and hack, very Marx Brothers, and completely unnecessary. Every supporting character ends up sounding like an oily sleaze, female gender is indicated simply by the narrator softening his tone--which I find objectionable--and both main characters sound petulant all the time and highly unattractive to the reader / listener. Also, the writer's use of the language is not always masterly. Example: spirits do not buoy, they ARE BUOYED by an external force. Frankly, I feel an alert editor should have caught usage and syntax errors such as this throughout the novel. This is all very frustrating because, as I mentioned, it's a pretty good tale with interesting and accurate historical detail.
"Great historical fiction story"
The year is 1501 and Stephanie Storey tells a highly-imagined tale of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarreti as they return to Florence. At fifty years of age, Leonardo is the elder statesman in the area of art and science. Michelangelo considers himself a sculptor and has been distinguishing himself in Rome.
The story is about the rivalry between the two men. In Florence, the city fathers have offered a commission to Leonardo to carve the Duccio stone. A huge but damaged piece of marble, but he refuses the commission. A destitute Michelangelo takes on the commission. The hostility between the two men goes on while Michelangelo carves David and da Vinci paints the Mona Lisa.
The writing is average but the book is well researched. It is written in an entertaining way. The dialogue is sharp and the book is loaded with information. This historical novel reminds me of one of my favorite books from the 1960s by Irving Stone entitled “The Agony and the Ecstasy”. Stone chronicles the painting of the Sistine Chapel. Storey does a good job of accurately portraying the state of renaissance art and Italian politics of the era. Story brings these two men to life. Story has a way to go to reach the quality of Irving Stone who is considered a master of the historical novel but she is well on her way.
P. J. Ochlan is an author, voice over artist and a multi-award winning audiobook narrator.
"The life of two artistic geniuses"
With a last name like that, Stephanie was born to create such a creative novel. An artist in her own sense, the author paints a vivid picture with her words to bring us back to one of the most influential times in history. Great work by the skillful narrator as well. The accents he used throughout really put a fantastic touch to the story and brought it more to life.
Beautiful story about the life of two beautiful men and how they influenced each other and in turn the world but at the same time showing how these otherworldly geniuses were so human.
Highly recommended for anyone who loves to learn about the great figures of history (in a fun way) without having to go through a thorough overextended biography.
LOVED it. And the narration was the best I have heard. I am eagerly awaiting Ms Storey's next work and hope P.J. Ochlin will read it again. Wonderful!!!
"Great story !! Great narration!"
The outstanding narrative performance enhanced this intriguing and inspiring historical novel. The author brought the artists to life revealing all of their talents, emotions, struggles, and accomplishments. Absolutely loved it!!!
"An interesting listen"
The narrator did a great job pulling me in with his voices of the characters. I enjoyed the story and found myself researching online as I followed the story.
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