This book was received from the author for review.
Leonardo’s Shadow: Or, My Astonishing Life as Leonardo da Vinci’s Servant, by Christopher Grey is a wonderful novel written for the Young Adult market, but equally engrossing for adults. There are so many amazing Young Adult novels out there now – adults should not be overlooking the genre!
I have a hard time classifying this as fiction, as Grey researched the character of the servant Giacomo and based the events on notes in da Vinci’s notebooks. I guess it can go in the fiction section, but it should also be cross-referenced to the non-fiction section as well.
In this beautifully written novel, Grey explores the life of Leonardo da Vinci as seen through the eyes of his servant, Giacomo. Giacomo’s first person narrative focuses on the years in which DaVinci is due to paint the Last Supper. Da Vinci rescues Giacomo as a youngster from a mob who believes he is a thief. Giacomo remembers nothing of his prior life, and grows into a teenager as DaVinci’s servant, along with his cook.
Giacomo plays with the other local servants, but what he wants is to be apprenticed to DaVinci. Giacomo learns to draw in secret, and then tries to help da Vinci with the Last Supper so he can finish it before the Duke of Milan brings in another artist (like that upstart Michaelangelo!) tofinish the work.
I am incredibly saddened that I put off reading this book for a bit. I thought it would be one of those dull, dragging historical books. Now I’m recommending it to everyone – the characters simply leap off the page – you can almost imagine them walking around you. Leonardo’s Shadow doesn’t romanticize the unsavory parts of life in the 1400s – it has an incredibly realistic feel to it. The book also adds the bonus of showing us all sides of da Vinci – not just his impressive artwork. DaVinci has a temper, he is vain, and he is not perfect, even though his art is.
If you have an interest in Italy in the 1400s or in DaVinci, or simply wish to try out the amazing books that are now available in the Young Adult genre, I highly recommend reading Leonardo’s Shadow: Or, My Astonishing Life as Leonardo da Vinci’s Servant. A huge thumbs up, and major gratitude to author Christopher Grey for bringing it to my attention!