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The Medici Boy
on 17 June 2014
Luca Mattei, now sixty-seven years old, is writing his memoirs – he has nothing left but time. And writing gives him pleasure. So he tells us of his life; from his birth in 1400 to a mother who died three days later of the Black Pest, of his failure in the Friars, of his failure as the apprentice to Cennino and then Ghiberti. But it is his life as apprentice to the great goldsmith and sculptor Donato di Betto Bardi that really fires Luca in his writing – to work for the master and Michele di Bartolomeo, to see the great Cosimo de Medici, to find a path in life that he feels accepts him. Until he sees a danger in his life that he doesn’t know how to combat.
This is a wonderfully yrical book which tells of life in fifteenth century Florence; a world where Cosimo de Medici and Rinaldo degli Albizzi lead warring factions in political struggles to the death, where art and beauty coexist with squalor and hardship, and where sinners are burned at the stake and rich and poor alike live under the cloud of the returning Black Pest. What can Luca tells us that reveals him to us? The writing is evocative, bringing the sounds, smells and tastes of Renaissance Florence to life for the reader, and the narrator is one we can feel empathy with; all too human in his failings and desires, and who does his best to live the life he has been dealt. But the life he thought he had left behind comes back to haunt him, with terrible results.
A wonderful book, beautifully written, and one which really brought fifteenth century Florence alive. Totally recommended.