The Botticelli Secret

Written by Marina Fiorato
Review by Troy Reed

In her latest novel, Fiorato brings us a lively, face-paced blend of history, art, and romance. Set in Renaissance Italy in 1482 during the rule of the Medici, we follow the story of Luciana Vetra, a prostitute blessed with street smarts who is a keen observer of human behavior.

At the suggestion of one of her patrons, she poses as a model for the figure of Flora in Sandro Botticelli’s exquisite masterpiece in progress, La Primavera. But then Botticelli doesn’t pay her. In a desperate act to punish Botticelli, Luciana ends up stealing a sketch of the painting, and a wave of violence is unleashed directly because of Luciana’s rash actions. Several people close to her end up dead in a brief amount of time.

It becomes clear to Luciana that she is the intended target of the vicious attacks, and she must run for her life. Having nowhere else to turn, she seeks the help of Brother Guido, a novice librarian who tried to help her by persuading her to give up her life of prostitution. Brother Guido, from a prominent family, quickly realizes that just by associating with Luciana, he and the people close to him are in jeopardy as well. The pair work together to unravel the message that they believe is contained in the picture, all the while evading their pursuers. A growing attraction is kindled between the two unlikely friends.

The plot will keep readers turning pages as they are taken on a wild ride though the streets of several Italian cities. Luciana is a fresh voice and a believable character whose foul-mouthed quick-wittedness and boldness will keep readers guessing. The Botticelli Secret is a story of survival and finding love unexpectedly that is sure to please.