Friday 19 October 2018

BLOG TOUR: The Eyes That Look - Julia Grigg

This compelling novel of art and adventure, Julia Grigg’s debut, is set in the feverish creativity of mid-sixteenth century Italy. Francesco Bassano wants to find out how and why an extraordinary painting was made; the story traces his quest to discover the secrets of the portrait’s past. Francesco’s journey, his coming-of-age, takes him and his questions to Venice, Verona, Maser and Florence. Encountering the High Renaissance’s masters Titian, Veronese and Vasari in the very act of creating and recording the era’s stupendous art and architecture, he is witness to astonishing achievements. Enthralled, he learns of the determination needed for innovation and the sacrifices demanded of an artist if cherished ambition is to become reality. Little by little he unravels what lies behind the painting, gaining new understanding of love, truth and beauty, and of loyalty, devotion and the unbreakable bond between a master and his dogs. However, in delving deeper, the past’s dark side reveals itself: cruelty, inhumanity and human frailty ­­– and Francesco cannot avoid the experience of bitter betrayal.
A spirited, entertaining fiction drawing on historical facts, The Eyes that Look is multi-sensual in its storytelling, inviting readers to revel in the unrivalled artistic riches of the Italian Renaissance.

What did I think?

A book with a theme of art is not my kind of thing at all but Julia Grigg has opened my eyes to a whole new world with her beautifully written colourful book set in 16th Century Italy.  The line chosen for the blog tour poster is so perfectly apt in summing up the book: 'Only by looking will you learn to see'.  This is a book that both art lovers and historical fiction fans will never forget.

The beautiful painting of Two Hunting Dogs by Jacopo Bassano is depicted on the inside cover and through the pages that follow we learn the story behind this painting through several different voices, but mainly through Jacopo's son, Francesco.  Francesco's story is an absolutely riveting adventure through the vivid sights and sounds of Italy and I enjoyed it so much more than I expected to.

Julia Grigg's love for her subject really shines through every page but by creating such colourful characters she has made the story so accessible to those of us without knowledge of art.  It's silly I know, but I have never thought about the story behind paintings; of course there had to be one to inspire the artist in the first place.  This is how Julia Grigg has opened my eyes to a whole new world as I now find myself looking more closely at not only paintings but photographs in order to see the story behind them.

An absolutely stellar debut that both surprised and delighted me from start to finish.  I feel like I have been given a life lesson as I can see the world in so much more colour after reading The Eyes That Look and I intend to keep looking in order to learn to see.

I chose to read an ARC and this is my honest and unbiased opinion.

My rating:

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