#109 ~ Immortal

October 14, 2008 at 10:29 pm | Posted in Books, Culture, Historical Fiction | 7 Comments
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Immortal by Traci L. Slatton

Immortal is a novel that sweeps through 150 years of Florentine history from Giotto to Leonardo da Vinci through the eyes of Luca Bastardo, whose first memories are of living in the street seemingly as an orphan.  What makes Luca different is that he does not perceptively age.  His long life did not start out pleasantly.  While living on the streets, he made a couple of friends.  His best friend ultimately sold him to a brothel owner who specialized in pedaling the flesh of young children.  The only way he survived over twenty years of sexual abuse was by traveling to the gorgeous churches around Florence and through his friendship with Gioto.  When Luca won his freedom from prostitution created a generations long family long vendetta against him.  The discovery of alchemy, his talent for medicine and the search for his true love are what give him purpose as he keeps one step ahead of the those who want to destroy him.

This is not an easy novel to read.  The scenes at the brothel and with Luca dealing with the plague were grueling.  For me, the hardest parts weren’t the most emotionally difficult, but were those dealing heavily with alchemy and with Leonardo da Vinci. Alchemy most definitely had its place in this novel.  Without it, Luca would never have foreseen and chose love over immortality.  Luca’s dream of creating gold, however, felt hollow to me.  I liked the way that played out, but that didn’t change my opinion that his interest in it was half-hearted.  I also found Leonardo a difficult character to enjoy.  He was much more than a precociuos child.  I found his questions much too pointed and advanced for his age, even if he was a genious.  Because of this, his character felt like a tool needed to move Luca along.

I finished this book over two weeks ago, but I’m still not sure how I feel about it.  It was a book that felt as long as its 528 pages.  The ending was amazing.  It was a tremendous payoff.  This wouldn’t have been dampened at all had the novel been pared down.  At the same time, I was left wanting more information about the time Luca spent exiled from Florence.  Despite my own ambivilence, this novel would be interesting to those who enjoy reading about Florence, art, and the Medici family.  Luca’s view of the city as it changed so drastically over his lifetime and certainly provides a unique view of the city.

The best part about reading this novel was discussing it with those of you who joined The Literate Housewive’s Book Club!  I enjoyed reading your posts and your reviews.  If you haven’t been back in a while, please post your review there so I can compile all of the reviews for the newsletter.  I’ve also posted a call for suggestions for the next book.  I’m really looking forward to doing this again.

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To buy this book, click here.

Literate Housewives’ Book Club Winners!!!!!!

August 8, 2008 at 4:24 pm | Posted in Books | 4 Comments
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With the help of three separate buddies at work, the winners of the Immortal contest for the kick-off of The Literate Housewives’ Book Club 2.0 are:

Trina from Twisted and Tangled

Meghan from Medieval Bookworm

Bethany from B&b ex libris

Please send me your address. I will be sending your book out later this month. It’s a long story, but you’ll have them by the last week of August. 😉 Thank you to everyone who has participated! You all get a handmade bookmark and those will go out next week. Please send me an email with your mailing address. I can’t tell you how touched I am that you would all consider joining my book club!

I will be sending out details about where, when, etc… very soon.

Announcing the Literate Housewives’ Book Club Contest!

July 25, 2008 at 10:17 am | Posted in Books | 38 Comments
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Trumpeter VIII by Elyse Ashe Lord

Trumpeter VIII by Elyse Ashe Lord

As a teaser earlier this week, I indicated that I was getting several copies of a historical fiction novel to give away to a few of my readers. I’m going to use those free copies to relaunch The Literate Housewives’ Book Club, which has been inactive since the end of December. I’m excited to announce that I have three copies of Immortal by Traci Slatton to give away! At the end of this post is the book trailer and a Q&A with the author.

About the Contest:

1) Please only enter this contest if you’re willing to participate in my online book club. The first 15 people to sign up will receive a personalized bookmark made by me, whether they win a copy of the book or not. 🙂

2) To be entered in the contest, leave a comment to this post with at least one suggestion for making an online book club fun and successful. You will get one entry into the contest for each suggestion, up to a total of three entries.

3) If you blog about this contest, you’ll get two additional entries into the contest. Send me an email or leave a comment with the link.

4) The deadline for entering the contest will be Friday, August 8.

5) In addition to receiving a free copy of the book, the winners will also receive a personalized hand made bookmark that is specific to the book as a special thank you for taking this journey with me. They will also have contributor rights to the blog in order to post questions, topics, etc…

6) If you already own a copy of Immortal and would like to participate, let me know. I’ll send you a bookmark as well.

I will be retooling the LHBC site in the meantime in preparation for the relaunch. I cannot tell you how excited I am about this. I hope that this will be as much fun for me as it will be for everyone else.

About the Book

Q&A for Traci Slatton
Author of Immortal
Tracilslatton.com

Tell us about your book, Immortal.

Immortal is a rags-to-riches-to-burnt-at-the-stake story. It’s a journey of spirit and an education of the heart. That said, it’s the story of a mysteriously gifted street urchin who undergoes the darkest moments possible and still goes on to find true love, deep friendship, hope, faith, and ultimately the deepest secrets of his origins.

Why did you write this book?

I love to tell stories! I was working on a non-fiction book about science and spirituality. (Piercing Time & Space, ARE Press, Virginia Beach, VA: 2005.) It was fascinating research, but I found myself longing to write fiction, to create characters and wrap myself around adventure, conflict, and obstacle. Story lust drove me.

The book takes place in Florence during the Renaissance: What inspired you to choose this setting?

This goes back to the previous question. Renaissance Florence is a character in this novel–it’s inextricably interwoven into the story. It’s why I wrote THIS book. More explicitly, I am married to Sabin Howard, who is one of the foremost classical figurative sculptors working today. (www.sabinhoward.com) Think Michelangelo’s work: that’s what my husband’s work resembles. Moreover, Sabin is half-Italian; his mother is from Torino and he is completely fluent in the language. So, for him, Renaissance Italy is alive and well. It’s a part of our everyday discourse. I was always interested in Renaissance art but it’s become a passion because of living with Sabin.

Also, Florence between 1300 and 1500 was an intense and extraordinary place, almost unequalled in history. Art, philosophy, learning, commerce, banking, and government were all burgeoning and concentrated into this small city, making it the center of Europe. Out of Florence radiated invention and innovation. One of the popes called it “The fifth element of the universe.” Only Paris between the two world wars comes close to the fervor of creativity that was taking place in Florence during the Renaissance. It’s a powerful time to write about.

How did you come up with a protagonist like Luca?

I wanted a character who would meet and make an impression on my two great Renaissance heroes: Giotto and Leonardo. This character had to be the kind of man who could inspire love, lust, envy, admiration, and riveting hatred in other people. And he was going to face terrible challenges, so he had to have personal resources to help him through. And his suffering would make him humble and give him a hunger to love and be loved.

Lucas plays many different roles – orphan, companion, healer – throughout the story, which do you personally relate best to?

Perhaps to the healer and the companion. I was a hands-on or spiritual healer for many years, and Luca gets to do what I always longed to do: lay hands on and cure someone completely, even bring a dying man back to life.

I have four daughters, and in the best moments of parenting, there is a companionable aspect to it. There are moments when all the little stuff falls away, all the blah-blah-blah about messy bedrooms and parties and grades and allowances and health concerns, and my children and I are friends, laughing together. Even my little one, who is 3, sometimes sits and chats with me as if we were two good buddies. I treasure those moments.

Luca meets da Vinci, Botticelli…“immortals” whose impact on society is still apparent. Can you talk to us about some of those figures, and the way they still shape modern society?

They have left a legacy of art and ideas which is the foundation of western civilization. Petrarch, who is a friend of Luca’s in Immortal, articulated the notion of the individual self (see Ascent of Mount Ventoux) on which we built the United States: “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.” This is a radical change from the earlier systems of society, and it came out of the Renaissance. The great Cosimo de Medici who led Florence from 1434 to 1464 established the Platonic Academy, which formulated the ideals of humanism which are now axiomatic in our worldview. Even our pop philosophy, eg The Secret, has its roots in Pico della Mirandella’s Oration on the Dignity of Man: “O highest and most admirable felicity of man to whom it is granted to have whatever he chooses, to be whatever he wills!”

The great artists like Leonardo and Botticelli left us ideals of beauty that are still unparalleled. Leonardo left behind a prototype of a polymath genius as the highest aspiration.

Part of what makes Luca’s story so beautiful is the time period it is set in and the people he encounters. Do you think it would have had the same significance had it been placed at another time, such as the present?

Renaissance Florence is such an integral part of the story that it’s hard to say. I am, however, considering bringing Luca back in a future book that is set in Paris between the two world wars. Readers who love Luca can stay tuned…

Luca witnesses many important historical events throughout his life. What kind of research did you conduct for these?

I read a million books (okay, maybe a hundred), searched on-line, spoke with friends and relatives with extensive historical knowledge (my husband is a Renaissance sculptor and my father-in-law is a history teacher with a PhD), and I corresponded with, or spoke to, a couple of professors. I also like the History channel for shows on history! And we visited Italy several times, spending much time in the Medici chapel in Florence and the Pinacoteca Vaticano in Rome.

No one but me is to blame for inaccuracies, distortions, and out right fallacies.

What are your future writing plans in writing?

I am working on the sequel to Immortal right now.

Any advice you could give to beginning novelists out there?

Persist! And know who to trust with your work.

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