Title: All Visible Things
Author: Brian McPhee
Genre: Cultural Heritage Fiction
Rating: 5 of 5 stars
All Visible Things is an excellent book to get lost in.
When doctorate candidate Lauren Patterson uncovers pages from the journal of Paolo del Rosso, she couldn’t guess that her find would reveal secrets of the great artist and inventor Leonardo Da Vinci. Nor would she have known it would kick up a thirst for the mystery of what lay within its sheets.
Brain McPhee artfully creates our hero, Paolo del Rosso, through pages and pages of diary entries. And although we are only experiencing him ‘second hand’ through-out our story, he always feels very much at the forefront of our attention. His crafting, so well done, he’s often the arbiter of our views and our most trusted narrator, despite him being long dead and merely a study subject.
Alongside the Paolo Chronicles investigation, Lauren’s inquiries spurred on by her readings, which led her from sixteenth-century Italy to present-day Britain. I have to say that this was a fun read. The adventure was pure enjoyment.
I highly recommend this both as a traditional book and an audiobook, as I ‘read’ it in both formats.
All Visible Things Excerpt:
I have never seen Maestro Leonardo so angry. He announced his return from the home of Signor del Giocondo by slamming the door. He then swept his eyes around our bottega before fixing on Salaì. In a loud and harsh voice, he scolded Salaì for the untidiness of his workspace, then cast him out with a command to stay away until he could swear an oath to mend his ways. Maestro then stormed across to Agostino and berated him for the slovenliness of his vestments, driving him out also, declaring he should return only when newly bathed and attired in fresh clothes. I confess, at this I became extremely anxious, worried that I too would incur Maestro’s wrath for some fault.
Fortunately, his harsh words with Salaì and Agostino had sated my master’s temper, although not his anger.
Still with a rough tongue, he addressed me. “That despicable creature, that pretentious cloth merchant, had the temerity, the insolence, to demand–I tell you, Paolo, the scoundrel actually demanded–that I paint his miserable mouse of a wife, Mona Lisa.”
“No matter, Maestro, we will find another, a more worthy commission, I am certain of it.”
At this, I witnessed a peculiar transformation of my master. His entire person seemed to shrink as he threw himself onto a chair where he lowered his head into his hands.
His voice was muffled when at last he responded in his normal, pleasant voice.
“I regret very much, Paolo, that I had to accept Giocondo’s appalling commission. And you will weep at the miserable fee I was compelled to accept.”
Present Day – Oxfordshire
Lauren Patterson slumped back in her green leather chair and stared, mesmerised, at the extraordinary document in her hand. After what seemed an age, but was in fact no more than two minutes, she lifted her eyes and gazed blankly around the room, her thoughts in a tumult as she contemplated the implications of what she held in her hand. Absently, she admired the way the louvred blinds beside her sculpted the late afternoon sun into a pleasing arrangement of stripes marching resolutely across the gleaming surface of her desk. She tracked the alternating procession of light and shade, finally arriving at the battered box crammed with musty papers. The old container was newly beguiling, its siren whispers promising new secrets.
About Brian McPhee:
Brian McPhee lived in Glasgow, Scotland until he was 21, when he moved to London. In his early 40s, he emigrated with his wife and daughter to Maryland, USA. After a successful career in IT marketing and management, he and his wife moved once more, to Monpazier in southwest France. All Visible Things is his third novel.
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