The Eyes That Look written by Julia Grigg, publisher Universe Publishing Group, is available NOW in ebook and paperback format.
The paperback is available from all good book retailers including Waterstones, WHSmith and amazon. The ebook is available for amazon kindle and kobo.
To buy link (amazon UK): https://amzn.to/2yppwGe
To buy link (Waterstones): https://bit.ly/2Nv00Vr
We may have eyes that look – but how clearly do we see? 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.
I voluntarily reviewed an arc of this book. All opinions are my own and no content may be copied. However, authors and publishers may use elements of my reviews for quotes.
I was kindly sent a paperback copy for review and it is stunning and I am most grateful to the publishers and blogtour organisers for this. It has a glorious image of the famous Bassano’s Hunting Dogs painting on the front and in the inside cover. The colours are rich but there’s a warm, earthiness to them. I would strongly urge you to buy a copy of the paperback instead of an ebook due to this sumptuous cover. Many a times I’ve just found myself mesmerised by the eyes and the facial expressions of the dogs.
I enjoy historical fiction, mainly romance I have to admit, but I loved both history and art at school and still appreciate both subjects now, however I’ve never studied Art History, the classics and their meanings. Firstly, I was taken by this book by the cover image and I can see why this painting by Jacopo Bassano of the Hunting Dogs is so famous. The eyes of the dogs draw you in and you can feel life within them. I love the almost muted colours of the blue and copper. It’s quite a simple painting with two main colours but I feel the image holds so much emotion. The synopsis then drew me in about a mystery surrounding this painting, I wanted to find out more.
Julia Griggs novel based on facts around this classic painting was quite fascinating. We travel back in time to Italy 1566 when Jacopo Bassano’s son, Francesco, was learning the craft from his father and he was keen to make his own mark on the art world. Stumbling across sketches of the dogs Francesco was equally mesmerised by the images and was eager to learn more. However, his father wasn’t keen on revealing the story behind the images and it was as if he was forbidden to disclose any further details. Francesco was undeterred and went on a mission travelling far and wide through Italy and through the lives of many people who were linked to the painting.
The story behind the painting was to reveal much heartache and tragedy that was very dark at times to learn about. The story also revealed glimmers of hope and of acceptance.
This is a story not to be rushed, it’s a story to read at your leisure to fully appreciate and enjoy this fictional tale based on facts around the Italian Renaissance by Julia Grigg. The author definitely evoked many emotions within me and she captivated me to a time and event I had no knowledge of. It’s given me an insight into a world of classical artists and paintings and it’s left me pondering about the stories behind many other classics.
Quite a beautiful telling of an almost tragic tale. Julia Griggs words took me to rural Italy in the mid 1500’s journeying with a young man eager for his own independence with his craft but eager for the truth surrounding a picture that had spellbound many. A painting that would stay with Francesco Bassano for the rest of his life with the lessons learned from his journey.
I’d like to share a quote from the book that I particularly enjoyed:
“You put a dog into a composition, you affirm life. It’s like lighting a lamp in a darkening room: hold the flame to the wick and in the next instant you’re imbued with warmth and good feeling.”
About the Author
Julia Grigg started out in fashion journalism, her first job on Vogue, also writing on the arts, food and travel. She retains an abiding interest in all these but soon moved into a career with UNICEF as a writer and advocate for children’s issues, deployed to some of the world’s most demanding and complex countries.
Julia began The Eyes that Look – the secret story of Bassano’s Hunting Dogs while studying for the Bath Spa University Masters in Creative Writing. An early draft was longlisted for the Exeter First Novel Prize.
The novel was years in the making before a single word was put on the page. Writing it meant Julia could delve deep into the Italian High Renaissance, indulging a lifelong fascination with its art, music and poetry. In the research process she embraced online study, attended the Courtauld Institute summer school and the British Institute in Florence, and spent much time in Italian archives, galleries and churches as well as in trying to master the language.
Julia is working on the second novel of a planned Renaissance trilogy, involving mid 1500s Rome, Florence and Venice settings and some of the same cast of characters as The Eyes that Look.
Cornish in origin, Julia spends as much time as she can in the West Country, always thrilled to be once again crossing the Tamar. Dogs are another passion; she and her husband share their home with a pair of black and tan dachshunds.