Author: John L’Heureux
Publisher: Astor + Blue Editions
ISBN: 978-1-938231-49-0

Is one’s fate the same as God’s will?” asks Luca Mattei near the end of The Medici Boy.  It is a centuries-old question that weaves its way throughout this sweeping narrative. 

Awarded a Guggenheim Grant to research the religious, political, social and artistic background of his 15th century-based narrative, author John L’Heureux writes of the lavish wealth of the Medici’s and their ever-changing political fortunes; the suffering caused by the bubonic plague; the social lives of prostitutes; the horrific punishment that awaited homosexuals; the beauty of Renaissance art; the heartlessness of the Roman Catholic Church; and the brutality, and immorality of humanity.   

Spanning over sixty years of Renaissance Italy, Luca Mattei, (the unwanted son of a rich merchant and his Dalmatian Girl) is a man who encounters passion, murder, envy, love corruption, sexuality, jealousy, lust, betrayal, and greed. Raised by abusive wool dyers who consign him to the Fratelli of Saint Francis where he proves to be a failure as a monk because of his lustful preferences, Luca begins an apprenticeship with a painter.  Unsuccessful once again, he apprentices with the Renaissance master sculptor, Donatello, where he reconnects with Agnolo, (the son of Luca’s adoptive parents), and helplessly watches Donatello’s forbidden homosexual passions ignited by Agnolo who becomes the model for Donatello's famous bronze statue of David commissioned by the powerful Cosimo de' Medici.

The Medici Boy is a story with several themes: Cain-and-Abel relationship (between Luca and Agnolo as the two compete for the attention and affection of Donatello); fatal attraction (between Donatello and Agnolo); homosexuality.  At a time when the Roman Catholic Church condemned sodomy and supported the brutal imprisonment, torture, exile, hanging, burning at the stake as punishment of perpetrators, Franco (Luca’s second son) is arrested for sodomy and Luca begs Franco to tell him why he can't stop.  In despair, Franco cries out "Because it's who I am. It's how I'm made."  And with those words, the author opens the Pandora’s Box on homosexuality and the global question of whether homosexuality is choice or hereditary.

While this reader questions the necessity of the inclusion of the Dan-Brown-like gory details at the beginning of the book of one man’s horrific punishment for sodomy and the barbaric torturing of a cat, it is the author’s way of introducing the historical setting where compassion takes a back seat.

Psychologically intense, L’Heureau skillfully writes of tumultuous passions, scripting a superbly written historical novel about the Italian Renaissance; its great sculptor, Donatello; his assistant, Luca Mattei; and model for the famous “David” bronze statute Agnolo, revealing humanity’s frailty in its many forms.

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