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Extended Audio Sample Signora da Vinci: A Novel Audiobook, by Robin Maxwell Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (930 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Robin Maxwell Narrator: Bernadette Dunne Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2006 ISBN: 9781455195022
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Caterina was fifteen years old when she fell in love with a man much above her station. The daughter of a humble village apothecary, she was considered unmarriageable by her lover’s wealthy and ambitious family. She had no recourse when they took her child away from her, leaving her bereft and rejected by society as a “fallen woman.”

But Caterina had always hidden a part of herself from society. Unlike most women of that time, she had been educated since childhood—not only in her father’s medicinal arts, but in Greek philosophy and pagan mysticism, considered heretical by the church.

Now, to be close to her son, she would carry that deceit further than she had ever imagined, taking up a new life under a dangerous new identity. In Florence at the height of Italy’s cultural Renaissance, Caterina would discover undreamed-of opportunities and freedoms—and her gifted son, Leonardo, would change the world forever.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Maxwell re-creates Renaissance Italy in splendid detail…the setting and known events of the artist’s life are meticulously rendered.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Lush and lusty, fascinating and smart, this fictionalized biography is a stroke of genius crafted by a gifted historian.”

    Romantic Times

  • “A glorious novel of Leonardo da Vinci and his courageous, passionate mother.”

    Sandra Worth, author of The King’s Daughter

  • “[An] exquisite gem of a novel…Signora da Vinci is a tour de force celebration of one woman’s unquenchable ardor for knowledge and of a secret world that historical fiction readers rarely see.”

    C. W. Gortner, author of The Last Queen

  • Signora da Vinci is without a doubt the best historical fiction I have read all year…remarkable…Maxwell takes us back to the turbulent times of the Italian Renaissance to give us a beautifully rendered and captivating portrait of Leonardo da Vinci’s mother…A masterful blend of fact and fiction, Signora da Vinci mesmerizes.”

    Michelle Moran, author of Nefertiti and The Heretic Queen

  • “Thanks to Maxwell, we get a superbly imagined portrait of a woman living in turbulent times who boldy behaved as few dared…[A] sparkling epic…the novel continually delights with intriguing details.”

    Vicki León, author of Uppity Women of the Renaissance

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sherrey | 2/20/2014

    " Because I'm inclined to be reading two or more books at one time, it took me a while to read Signora Da Vinci as it has been my bedside read. This author has taken what little is known about Leonardo da Vinci's mother and then woven an enchanting and intense story of history, art, romance, and intrigue. If you like historical novels, this is for you. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ivory | 2/12/2014

    " I really thought this book was well written and interesting, however I was horribly disappointed at the end to find out there was no basis for the story. I know that historical fiction can take whatever path the author chooses, but to find out that there was nothing in history that even hinted at the relationships that were developed was very disappointing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Patricia Ralston | 2/8/2014

    " Engaging and thought provoking. I am always a little disturbed by the attempt to blend real history with fiction, and this affected me predictably. That said, it's well researched and for anyone with an Art History background, a good story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Corinne | 2/7/2014

    " Very well written and well executed. Maxwell wrote about the period and da Vinci so vividly that now I want to read more about the Medici family as well as Leonardo da Vinci himself. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michelle | 2/4/2014

    " A good book about Leonardo da Vinci's mother. Not the next great American novel or anything, but very well written, interesting, captivating, etc. and I would definitely recommend it. Along the same line of books as The Red Tent and The Other Bolyn Girl - historical fiction. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Lynn | 2/2/2014

    " Historical fiction...I have read better, but worse...interesting religious happenings in the book and a decent read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth | 1/15/2014

    " Worth checking out if you like historical figures being interwined into fictional situations. This is my kind of novel. It gives cameo appearances from famous Renaissance artists and possibility of outcomes/explanations as to how certain historical events transpired. Really interesting and well written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Heather | 12/31/2013

    " I'm not a great fan of fictionalized non-fiction, yet this book was quite full of interesting facts about the era and Michelangelo. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cara Best | 12/15/2013

    " Well written, but the plot was unbelievable - a cross-dressing, lover of Lorenzo de Medici who also happrns to be the mother of Leonardo da Vinci! Too much to beleive! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bella | 12/9/2013

    " A well written story, although I did struggle to believe that Caterina went undiscovered for such a long time, and that she was such an erudite. But overall - a very entertaining story. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michele Killion | 12/6/2013

    " Excellent writing, but purely fictional . . . not keen on the concept of discrediting the shroud of Turin, but again, this is fiction. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Book Concierge | 11/13/2013

    " 3.5 stars ... Good historical fiction that tells the back story of Leonardo da Vinci's mother. Populated with real people from the era - Lorenzo de Medici, Botticelli, Savanarolla, Pope Innocent, etc. A good read, and I learned a little more about this time and place in history. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Elisabeth Cole | 10/28/2013

    " I listened to this on audiobook. It did spark my interest in learning more about Leonardo da Vinci and his life but wish the novel had been a little bit more realistic. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jackie | 10/27/2013

    " Thoroughly enjoyed reading of the times told from the viewpoint of Leonardo DaVinci's mother. Beautiful tale. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sue | 8/19/2013

    " I love historical fiction. Although the book is highly implausible, I liked the way the author wrote about the facts surrounding DaVinci's life. The historical setting was very interesting. I recommend it , esp. if you like historical fiction. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tamar | 6/11/2013

    " This was a great story of historical fiction. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Hannah Courtright | 6/3/2013

    " Not one of my favorite reads, but there were definitely enough parts that were really interesting to learn, even if embellished. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bridgett | 4/13/2013

    " not a particularly hard read, but an interesting and fun concept... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eileen | 9/30/2012

    " Fun novel loosely based on the life of Leonardo da Vinci's mother. I love anything about Leonardo and this novel about his mother fit my perception of the type of woman who could raise and encourage such a genius. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tanzanite | 4/15/2012

    " Although I enjoyed the overall storyline and plot of this book, told by Leonardo da Vinci's mother, I found her life as a man a major distraction. I think had the author picked another POV and/or mechanism by which to tell the story, I would have liked it more. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susan | 3/21/2012

    " loved the book and the recipe for the compote. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Crin | 1/22/2012

    " Liked the first 1/3. Just wanted to finish the 2/3. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kristin | 1/10/2012

    " One of the best books Ive ever read. I would recommend this to anyone. very interesting spin I didnt expect AT ALL! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Angie | 11/4/2011

    " I enjoyed this fascinating fictional tale about the life of Leonardo's mother. Many of the characters and events are not fictional and the author did a wonderful job bringing Signora Da Vinci to life and including her in those events. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dlbemoll | 10/6/2011

    " This historical novel hooked me from the beginning and I could not put it down!!!! "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Danielle | 5/5/2011

    " I'm sucked in. So far a very good light read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jane | 4/13/2011

    " Reasonable writing and interesting background. Not my favourite "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shannon | 4/13/2011

    " 3.5 stars really. Beautifully written, so interesting, but I felt like the author played it safe when it came to passions and conflicts. A lovely read regardless. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bowenarrow | 2/20/2011

    " Loved this book. Love stories about brave, "out there" women who do whatever it takes to get what they want. And, it includes a fabulous recipe at the end. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dstar | 1/31/2011

    " Fascinating story! I was overwheled by the history, the story, the depth of character. I wish I was alive in Florence during the age of great thinkers...oh yes, and a man:) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Crin | 1/16/2011

    " Liked the first 1/3. Just wanted to finish the 2/3. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Claire | 11/1/2010

    " Writing style really annoyed me. Couldn't get past it. Overall the book has some interesting content but is extremely long winded. I would not have finished it if it weren't a book club selection. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cindy | 10/16/2010

    " Interesting topic but writing was dull--took months to get through it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jo | 8/20/2010

    " Really enjoyed this book, although is got a little slow part way towards the end. But I loved the idea Maxwell came up with as to how Caterina's life could have gone. Great description of life in Florence at this time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sue | 6/9/2010

    " I love historical fiction. Although the book is highly implausible, I liked the way the author wrote about the facts surrounding DaVinci's life. The historical setting was very interesting. I recommend it , esp. if you like historical fiction. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Cara | 6/3/2010

    " Well written, but the plot was unbelievable - a cross-dressing, lover of Lorenzo de Medici who also happrns to be the mother of Leonardo da Vinci! Too much to beleive! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 5/26/2010

    " Fun read around Tuscany and a mother's struggles with a gifted son. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 F Tessa | 5/13/2010

    " 3.5 stars ... Good historical fiction that tells the back story of Leonardo da Vinci's mother. Populated with real people from the era - Lorenzo de Medici, Botticelli, Savanarolla, Pope Innocent, etc. A good read, and I learned a little more about this time and place in history. "

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About the Author
Author Robin MaxwellRobin Maxwell is the national bestselling author of eight historical fiction novels featuring powerful women, including Signora da Vinci and the award-winning Secret Diary of Anne Boleyn, now in its twenty-fourth printing. She lives in the high desert of California with her husband, yogi Max Thomas. Robin also hosts book club weekend getaways at High Desert Eden, a private retreat near Joshua Tree National Park.
About the Narrator

Bernadette Dunne is the winner of numerous AudioFile Earphones Awards and has twice been nominated for the prestigious Audie Award. She studied at the Royal National Theatre in London and the Studio Theater in Washington, DC, and has appeared at the Kennedy Center and off Broadway. She lives in Brooklyn.