On a book page, this tab will allow you to add a book to one of your lists.
Please login or register to use this feature.
9781771871471_cover Enlarge Cover View Excerpt
5 of 5
1 rating
rated!
rated!
list price: $19.95
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
category: Fiction
published: Oct 2017
ISBN:9781771871471
publisher: Thistledown Press

Hunting Piero

by Wendy MacIntyre

reviews: 1
tagged:
add a tag
Please login or register to use this feature.
coming of age
5 of 5
1 rating
rated!
rated!
list price: $19.95
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
category: Fiction
published: Oct 2017
ISBN:9781771871471
publisher: Thistledown Press
Description

This novel interweaves Renaissance artist Piero di Cosimo’s fifteenth-century viewpoint with the twenty-first-century reality of two young Canadian students: Agnes Vane, an art history major fascinated by di Cosimo’s multi-layered imagery, and Peter (Pinto) Dervaig, a student of philosophy passionate about preventing cruelty to animals. Both Agnes and Pinto were marginalized in their adolescence because of their unusual appearance. Agnes has slightly simian features. Pinto is a huge man with a multihued skin pigmentation.

 

When Agnes, as a lonely and alienated child, discovers di Cosimo’s empathetic paintings of animals and human-animal hybrids, she feels she is looked upon gently for the first time in her life. That moment influences her decision to become an animal rights activist, a commitment that ultimately brings her both anguish and insight. Her story is echoed by chapters from di Cosimo’s perspective as he pits his solitary vision, of a golden age when animals did indeed speak, against the dictatorial grip in which Savonarola, destroyer of secular art and culture, holds the city of Florence.

 

Hunting Piero is the tale of a passionate moral quest, and equally, a story of redemption and of love tested by tragic missteps and their deadly consequences

About the Author

Wendy MacIntyre was born in Glasgow, Scotland and emigrated to Canada in 1952. Between 1972 and 1976, while living in the Scottish Borders district, she completed her Ph.D. at the University of Edinburgh. Her scholarly works on the American poets Robert Duncan and Charles Olson, as well as her short stories, have been published in journals in the U.S., Britain, and Canada.

Author profile page >

Buy the e-book:

Reader Reviews

Sign Up or Sign In to add your review or comment.

Hunting Piero

Hunting Piero
by Wendy MacIntyre
Thistledown Press; October 2017

Review by David Mulholland

“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men / Gang aft a-gley.” This line from Robert Burns’s poem To a Mouse will come to mind when reading Wendy MacIntyre’s Hunting Piero---a novel both gripping and masterful in its artistic achievement.

Agnes Vane, an art history major, is studying the work of Piero di Cosimo, the 15th century Italian painter whose empathy with animals is depicted in his paintings. His conscience-raising art inspires the young woman to join a group of animal rights activists. Born with slightly simian features, from early childhood Agnes has been subjected to cruel teasing and humiliating comments about her appearance. Now, accepted by the like-minded students who make up the commune, including philosophy student Pinto Dervaig, who is struggling with his own identity, she begins a journey of self-discovery.

There’s always the danger of hyperbole when reviewing a work of art that is so impressive, the reviewer feels he or she cannot do it justice. That said, the literary merit in MacIntyre’s writing has so much depth it makes the writing of many authors---some who receive dubious high praise---appear pedestrian.

At least to this reviewer.

Examples: To convey her character’s dismay with her mother’s criticism of Piero’s work, the author writes: “Agnes felt her mind buzzing, a frenzied bee trapped in a glass jar.” A simple, vivid metaphor. In contemplating her decision to decline her parents’ offer of cosmetic surgery, MacIntyre writes: “Agnes tasted something vile in her mouth and wondered if it was the bitterness of lost illusions.” When Agnes finds herself facing a phalanx of police cars, MacIntyre writes: “She was at first disoriented by the flashing red lights on the black roofs, like blood splashing on her retina.” Metaphorical gems like these are abundant throughout the novel.

Agnes’s conflicting emotions about herself, her entanglement with other members of the commune, her unfolding insight into Piero’s art, and our relationships with animals are the threads that bind the story.

Well-meaning attempts by the activists to raise awareness of the unconscionable way we treat animals end in disaster, but without lecturing, MacIntyre skilfully provokes empathy and compassion for creatures whom we regard as existing only to serve our purposes; be it as food, toil or entertainment.

Short chapters depict Piero’s life in Florence in the 1490s during the “reign” of Girolamo Savonarola. The Dominican Friar is a religious fanatic who uses violent means to eradicate all pleasure and amusement. Finally, the Borgia Pope Alexander V1 excommunicates him, which ignites the courage of Florentine’s secular authorities to arrest him on a charge of “heresy.” Drawing upon this historical context, Agnes interprets the works painted by Piero during Savonarola’s reign of terror, speculating as to how the artist dealt with the oppression.

The author’s imagery is stunning. Readers will easily visualize the details and depth of Piero’s paintings; unveiling the intimacy and power of good art.

All the characters, even minor ones, are exceptionally well-drawn; most notably Pinto Dervaig, who goes to India to escape the commune’s tragedies and contemplate his own motives. It is not an exaggeration to say that the clarity of MacIntyre’s scenes in India would be the envy of any travel writer.

Although the engaging narrative has a “page-turner” urgency, this is a story best read at a leisurely pace, savouring the lucidity of scenes long after the book has been closed.

The back cover has a testimonial from author Jack Hodgins. In his book, A Passion for Narrative---A Guide for Writing Fiction, the third chapter is titled One Good Sentence After Another, which Hodgins explains is the answer Irish writer John McGahern gave to students at the University of Victoria when he was asked, “How do you write good fiction?”

In Hunting Piero, Wendy MacIntyre has fulfilled that directive---and then some!

David Mulholland is the author of three novels of dramatized history: McNab (2006), DUEL (2009), and Chaudière Falls (2016). Info at: davidmulholland.ca

Related Blog Posts

User Activity

X
Contacting facebook
Please wait...