Oil and Marble
Narrated by: P. J. Ochlan
Length: 13 hrs and 34 mins
Publisher: Audible Studios
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 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