Astor + Blue Editions is proud to release perhaps the most passionate work of master storyteller, John L’Heureux, in The Medici Boy [ISBN: 978-1-938231-50-6 (Hard Cover); ISBN: 978-1-938231-48-3 (E-book); US $25.95; Historical / Literary Fiction; 346 Pages, April, 2014]. Described as “one of America’s greatest living writers” by the Financial Times of London, L’Heureux returns with a long-awaited new historical fiction novel; the result of years of research—backed by a Guggenheim Grant—on location in Europe.
Donatello: Art, Pain, Passion, Murder
Renowned Literary Writer Renders Controversial Life of
Mysterious Renaissance Genius
“John L’Heureux has built a gripping story of love, genius and betrayal.”
--JM Coetzee, Nobel Prize for Literature, Booker Prize Winner
“Deeply enjoyable, The Medici Boy soars like an operatic aria, before breaking our hearts.”
--David Henry Hwang, playwright, M. Butterfly, Chinglish
“L’Heureux’s is certainly one of America’s greatest living writers. I’d put him in the top ten...And now he’s come out with his first new novel in ten years, The Medici Boy, and it’s a masterpiece, the most ambitious, beautiful, and complex novel I’ve read this year…”
--David Vann, Financial Times of London
about the book
The worlds of art, politics and passion collide in John L’Heureux’s masterful new novel, The Medici Boy. With rich composition, L’Heureux ingeniously transports the reader to Donatello’s Renaissance Italy—directly into his bottega, (workshop), as witnessed through the eyes of Luca Mattei, a devoted assistant. While creating his famous bronze of David and Goliath, Donatello’s passion for his enormously beautiful model and part time rent boy, Agnolo, ignites a dangerous jealousy that ultimately leads to Agnolo’s brutal murder. Luca, the complex and conflicted assistant, will sacrifice all to save the life of Donatello, even if it means the life of the master sculptor’s friend and great patron of art, Cosimo de’ Medici. John L’Heureux’s long-awaited novel delivers both a monumental and intimate narrative of the creative genius, Donatello, at the height of his powers. With incisive detail, L’Heureux beautifully renders the master sculptor’s forbidden homosexual passions, and the artistry that enthralled the powerful and highly competitive Medici and Albizzi families. The finished work is a sumptuously detailed historical novel that entertains while it delves deeply into both the sacred and the profane within one of the Italian Renaissance’s most consequential cities, fifteenth century Florence.
To begin, I was given a copy of this book for review. I was neither asked,nor encouraged to write a positive review.
Now, with housekeeping out of the way, I truly enjoyed this novel.
The Renaissance period is amazing..and this book is no exception.
We see the inner workings of the workshop of the great Donatello, through the eyes of Luca Matteo.
Luca is a young man who, himself, is fascinated by the great Donatello. He arrives at the workshop of the master via a convoluted path. We see his character grow and change throughout the novel. We see and feel his love, anger, feelings of betrayal and ultimately his horrific act of violence to protect the master Donatello.
We learn about the fine artisanship that occurs in the master's workshop. We meet several high placed renaissance individuals, including Cosimo de Medici and his arch enemy, the Albizzi's. We become embroiled in the political mess that was Renaissance Italy.
Mostly, this is a sad story about forbidden love.
We watch as Donatello creates his DAVID statue, while he himself, the mighty Goliath of this time is being brought to his knees by his love for the model of David.
I found myself feeling pity for the great master, as well as for Luca, the teller of the story.
While reading, I kept thinking Donatello IS the Medici Boy, but as I finished the novel, I realized the true identity of THE MEDICI BOY.
Heartbreaking, thought provoking, gut wrenching. This novel will affect you one way or another.
I give this book 4/5 stars and encourage anyone interested in art, or Renaissance Florence to read this well written book. You will not be disappointed. But...if you can't tolerate gore, skip over the part about the cat...
I would like to include the links for the book
there is also a fabulous readers guide (great for book clubs)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Award-winning poet, novelist, and short story writer, John L’Heureux has taught at Georgetown University, Tufts, Harvard, and (for more than 35 years) in the English Department of Stanford University where he was Lane Professor of Humanities. There he received the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and earned it again in 1998.
A prolific writer, L’Heureux has written more than twenty books of fiction, short fiction and poetry. His works have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, Harper’s, The New Yorker, and have been included in dozens of anthologies including Best American Stories and Prize Stories: the O. Henry Awards.
John L’Heureux has twice received writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and in 2006 he was awarded a Guggenheim Grant to do research for The Medici Boy, his new novel.
He is retired and lives in Palo Alto with his wife Joan.
Side view of Donatello's David . His foot is resting on the head of Goliath.
Notice the fine detail in the face of Donatello's DAVID.
Advance Praise for
The Medici Boy
"On the basis of Donatello's great statue of David, and against the background of the witchhunt against gay men in 15th-century Florence, John L'Heureux has built a gripping story of love, genius, and betrayal."
-- JM Coetzee,
Nobel Prize for Literature and two- time Booker Prize award winning author, Elizabeth Costello, Waiting for the Barbarians, Disgrace.
Financial Times of London Review, April 2014
“John L’Heureux is certainly one of America’s greatest living writers. I’d put him in the top ten. His oeuvre of almost twenty books (novels, short stories, and poems) has had a tremendous influence on several generations of American writers, including Tobias Wolff, Harriet Doerr, Ron Hansen, Lan Samantha Chang, David Henry Hwang, and dozens of others. And now he’s come out with his first new novel in ten years, The Medici Boy, and it’s a masterpiece, the most ambitious, beautiful, and complex novel I’ve read this year…
“In The Medici Boy, you’ll certainly become caught up in sex and murder, betrayal and political upheaval, love and desire and the ferocious creation of the beautiful in sculpture, but you’ll also catch a glimpse of where it is that art and religion point to in us, our finer, quieter makings.”
-- David Vann,
Financial Times of London Review
“A novel bursting with love -- collegial, artistic and erotic. John L'Heureux brings to life the bliss and treachery of the Italian Renaissance through prose as passionate as his characters. Deeply enjoyable, THE MEDICI BOY soars like an operatic aria, before breaking our hearts.”
-- David Henry Hwang
Playwright, M. Butterfly, Chinglish.
"Lust, envy, greed. Pride. Wrath. Set John L'Heureux loose in 15th-century Florence; give him Donatello, Cosimo de Medici, a royal flush of deadly sins, and a boy too handsome for his own good, and watch a master at work, and at play. There is no time and no place and no human transaction that L'Heureux can't plunder to assemble the kind of novel his fans expect, and his fans-to-be have never before encountered. Luminous, intelligent, funny, shocking, and, yes: revelatory.”
-- Kathryn Harrison
New York Times Bestselling Author, Enchantments, Envy, The Seal Wife
“Intensely appealing, viscerally gripping, and unfailingly human in its characters, L’Heureux’s most recent novel beckons with the undeniable promise of great writing to all lovers of historical literary fiction that easily manages to transcend its time parameters.”
Critical Acclaim for
“A writer who picks up his readers by the scruff of the neck and won’t let go.”
“A deeply ambitious novelist, one who isn’t afraid of dealing with dark themes and what it means to be fully human, especially in the frightening and ecstatic world we create behind the darkened bedroom walls.”
--New York Times Book Review
“L’Heureux’s efforts to weave myth., extremity, and a religious note… [are] powerful and original.”
--Los Angeles Times Book Review