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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