Monday 2 October 2023

Leonardo Forever

Leonardo Forever by Richard Yaxley (Omnibus books, an imprint of Scholastic Australia, 2023). PB RRP $17.99. e-Book RRP $10.96. ISBN 9781761203258

Reviewed by Debra Williams

The enigmatic Leonardo Da Vinci continues to fascinate so many, with his brilliant, inquiring mind, artwork, and designs. He was a larger-than-life figure.

This is a tale which involves not just Leonardo, but his friend Dante, and notably, 14-year-old Annalisa de Torriano, who travels from Florence with her family to live at a new estate purchased by her influential father in the countryside village of Vinci. Anna hates the thought of leaving her hometown, and the short dalliance she was hoping to continue with a boy named Matteo. She is creative, imaginative, and artistic, and feels that she will be stifled in the countryside. It is easy to imagine a typical 14-year-old girl pouting, defying her father and wishing to rebel, even as far back as 1465.

Anna finds, however, that she is enamoured by the countryside, and even more so by the company of two boys: Leonardo and his friend Dante Bellomo. She begins to embrace the new life and friendship, matching wits with Leonardo, and realises she has a crush on him. Could it be love? After all, he is only 13. The three friends spend long hours together. When Anna’s parents decide she is a suitable age to be married off, to, of all people, Matteo (whom she has long forgotten), she is furious. The daughters have no rights and no say in their futures: the father’s wishes are supreme, and the oldest boy is the inheritor of all the family’s wealth in that society.

When her father says they will return to Vinci for a short time, Anna determines to go back to Leonardo, and declare her love. However, she isn’t prepared for the dramatic and tragic twist in the tale. What is her destiny?

Author Richard Yaxley has written an intriguing fictional work based on historical information. This is a story for the YA group, 11-14+ years.

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