Thursday, August 29, 2013

Muse by Mary Novik

A richly engaging historical adventure in the vein of The Winter Palace and The Malice of Fortune.

Muse is the story of the charismatic woman who was the inspiration behind Petrarch's sublime love poetry. Solange Le Blanc begins life in the tempestuous streets of 14th century Avignon, a city of men dominated by the Pope and his palace. When her mother, a harlot, dies in childbirth, Solange is raised by Benedictines who believe she has the gift of clairvoyance. Trained as a scribe, but troubled by disturbing visions and tempted by a more carnal life, she escapes to Avignon, where she becomes entangled in a love triangle with the poet Petrarch, becoming not only his muse but also his lover.

Later, when her gift for prophecy catches the Pope's ear, Solange becomes Pope Clement VI's mistress and confidante in the most celebrated court in Europe. When the plague kills a third of Avignon's population, Solange is accused of sorcery and is forced once again to reinvent herself and fight against a final, mortal conspiracy.

Muse is a sweeping historical epic that magically evokes the Renaissance, capturing a time and place caught between the shadows of the past and the promise of a new cultural awakening.

Muse is Mary Novik’s second novel; a story about a young woman named Solange LeBlanc who was born to a harlot in 14th century. She becomes orphaned and sent into a Benedictine convent. There, the nuns believe her to be gifted as a visionary. Her clairvoyant dreams raise her status while also bringing danger from those who are superstitious. After an attack, Solange escapes the confines of religious life, and sets out on her own to make a living copying books with her beautiful penmanship. It is then that she meets Petrarch and becomes the inspiration behind many of his poems. Petrarch, however, is obsessed with his growing fame and leaves her behind with limited funds to pursue his career among the rich and noble. Unmarried and pregnant with Petrarch’s son, Solange gives birth in diminishing circumstances. When Petrarch learns about his son, he kidnaps him, spurning a desperate search by Solange to find him.  

Muse is an epic story with a powerful, resilient heroine at its centre. The author excels at bringing to life the political and social atmosphere of the times, including those pertaining to the French Pope to whom Solange becomes an advisor. Written with a compelling voice, this is a gripping story of a young woman who rises above the hardships of her time. 

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