Second Lisa

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Veronica Lyons and her autistic son Jupiter, visit the Louvre and walk out with the Mona Lisa. Not the painting, but the spirit of Lisabetta, Leonardo’s youngest sister, trapped in her portrait.

Lisa has the remaining nine months, during the anniversary of her death, to move on to her next incarnation. But during the five-hundred years since her death, the people closest to her in life have reincarnated.

It’s up to the eight-year-old Jupiter to rally them and his despondent mother to unlock the conundrum of an anonymous woman being the most famous face in the world.

Jupiter can see Lisa; his mother can only hear her, and Lisa must rely on their challenged relationship to communicate with each other and redress a powerful wish, uttered in haste, in order to reunite with her loved ones and live again.

The ‘Mona Lisa’ has stepped outside her painting to avenge a five-hundred year old mistake.

“If your name were to be irretrievably lost, cut apart from your time and permanently erased from the world, overshadowed by the lies of silence… were you ever truly here?” ~ Lisabetta

 

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The Phoenix Project

'Phoenix Angelus' - original oil painting by Veronica Knox

‘Phoenix Angelus’ – original oil painting by Veronica Knox

‘PEARL by PEARL’ the past-life memories of a renaissance woman

– by Veronica Knox   *REMINDER: Delphi Sharpe,  orphaned at birth, from a mother who swore her conception was immaculate, has the psychic ability to ‘read’ the provenance of paintings through touch.  When Delphi’s silence is misdiagnosed as autism she is considered unsuitable for adoption and sent to a mental institution where her fascination with birds grows into a fixation enabling her to feel safe. She also becomes infatuated by a book on renaissance art that speaks to her, and begins to present the characteristics of a savant. But is she? Delphi is discovered and adopted by a private art collector, who runs a science project on the cutting edge of cryogenics and robotics. When Delphi gains confidence and receives an offer to live an independent life she’s an asset worth fighting for. But how far is ‘The Phoenix Institute of Art and Technology’  prepared to go to keep her? For years, Delphi was content to work for ‘PIAT’ by retreating within a fantasy to survive her loneliness until a vision of blinding light confirmed her untimely death at the age of twenty-seven. The deceased, Delphi, now inspires her new incarnation, Cherry White – a time traveler created in ‘PIAT’s’ lab. Together, Delphi and Cherry, have become an irreplaceable resource for the art syndicate now called ‘The Phoenix Project.’     The CONTINUING SYNOPSIS (from previous blog post): Cherry is part human; part the latest creation of robotic technology – an enhanced hybrid android implanted with Delphi’s consciousness, programmed with perfect logic and the constitution to withstand molecular time travel, but ‘she’ lacks emotional intelligence.   Seeking kinship, Delphi had found refuge within the imagined family she created as a child with the ‘Mona Lisa,’ an ethereal voice named Sphinx, and an aristocratic ghostly lover from the 15th century. Fantasy and reality quickly evolved into an extraordinary lifestyle. When Delphi was alive her instinctive rapport with birds helped process her awkwardness with people. She invented a game that matched human personas to birds that symbolized their true identities. A game she still employs to process the people in Cherry’s artificial ‘life.’ Now, Cherry and her new colleagues find themselves involved in a corrupt art market dealing with fakes, and to survive they must become allies in a race against time. Delphi’s insecurities and her romantic illusions battle with Cherry’s clinical approach to her extraordinary situation. Cherry has no qualms about killing her employers but until she feels the instinct to kill, she relies on her former incarnations emotions, hoping to kindle the feelings of violence. The problem is, Delphi was the embodiment of compassion.  Real birds reflect the past, foreshadow the future, and offer clues to the underlying secret of Delphi’s origins. Meanwhile the male influences from Delphi’s past: Cecco, an aristocratic fifteenth-century ‘peacock,’ and his master teacher, Leonardo da Vinci,join forces with a new man in Cherry’s life, dubbed as a shy ‘pelican.’ Cherry’s colleagues are swept into a corrupt art syndicate as they follow Cherry and Delphi’s conflicted worlds inhabited by influential swans, kites, a spring robin, and a pair of real pet birds: a cockatoo named Florence and Cawdor, a three-hundred-year-old Scottish crow. Delphi pines for Cecco and her stolen future, caught between feeling like an ugly duckling and an abandoned  phoenix, but she shadows Cherry as a compassionate spirit. Delphi tries to defuse Cherry’s growing anger. Intent on destroying her enemies, Cherry needs to access Delphi’s memories and emotions in order to carry out her plan.  Cherry’s team endanger their own lives as they help the conflicted Cherry stabilize her human connections while she continues to fulfill Delphi’s original mission to save the lost paintings of Leonardo da Vinci. While Delphi and Cherry come to terms sharing Cecco, the ‘Phoenix Project’ exploits Cherry’s ability to locate and authenticate paintings, greedy to possess lost renaissance art by harvesting paintings destroyed in the fires of the past.  In the limbo between the present and the past, newfound victims must be rescued to fulfill an ever-evolving dual destiny. Delphi and Cherry must reconcile their differences and continue to sift time for clues to the way forward as they attempt to recover lost renaissance paintings, uncover a bizarre secret in the distant past, and reunite with the dissociated lover they’ve shared over five-hundred years. Cherry invokes Delphi’s memories to exact revenge on those who betrayed her. But Delphi, devastated by guilt, craves forgiveness and moving on. ONE MIND, TWO ROADS… HOW WILL THREE LOVERS RECONCILE AN AFTERLIFE MADE FOR TWO?

EXCERPT: ‘Bird magic quickened casually under my skin and fluttered in my veins as mild tremors. I sent my shadow to keep lookout from a tall pine spar. I was watching for my father’s ship. I was waiting for the ‘Tardis.’ I was looking for a sign.’

PBP_cover_Apr10.indd   ‘PEARL by PEARL – the past-life memories of a renaissance woman’ is a time travel fantasy by Veronica Knox                                      Publication date – July 1, 2015

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The Peacock – a Symbol of Rebirth

 

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A time traveler must re-experience her previous life as a woman savant to recover the missing paintings of Leonardo da Vinci and reunite with her lost love

 

‘PEARL by PEARL’ – the past-life memories of a renaissance woman

– by Veronica Knox

SYNOPSIS

Delphi Sharpe, orphaned at birth, from a mother who swore her conception was immaculate, has the psychic ability to ‘read’ the provenance of paintings through touch.

When Delphi’s silence is misdiagnosed as autism she is considered unsuitable for adoption and sent to a mental institution where she becomes obsessed with a book on renaissance art and begins to present the characteristics of a savant. But is she?

Delphi’s desire to find kinship is fraught with loneliness and she takes refuge in the fantasy family she created as a child with the ‘Mona Lisa,’ an ethereal voice named Sphinx, and a ghostly lover from the 15th century.

But at the age of fourteen her extraordinary reputation reaches the attention of a private art collector who runs a research laboratory on the cutting edge of artificial intelligence. In need of funds he liberates Delphi and begins a new sideline evaluating and restoring fine art through a black market art syndicate under the auspices of ‘The Phoenix Institute of Art & Technology.

When Delphi gains confidence and an offer to live an independent life she is an asset worth fighting for. But how far is PIAT prepared to go to keep her?

Delphi is content to shelter within her fantasy family until a vision of blinding light confirms her death at the age of twenty-seven.

Half a century later, she wakens, reincarnated as Cherry White, an android time-traveller struggling with memories of her former life.

To fulfill their dual destiny, Delphi and Cherry must reconcile their split personalities and sift time to recover lost renaissance paintings, uncover a bizarre secret in the distant past, and reunite with the dissociated lover they’ve shared over five-hundred years.

Cherry invokes Delphi’s memories to exact revenge on those who betrayed her. But Delphi, devastated by guilt, craves forgiveness and moving on.

‘Pearl by Pearl – the past-life memories of a renaissance woman’ is my seventh art history time-travel mystery. This one is  about supernatural strangers, timeless love, the ghosts of art, and fanciful wings. And it begs the question…

DOES IT TAKE TWO LIVES TO MAKE ONE WOMAN?

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Publication date July 1, 2015

EXCERPT:

“At the tender age of eighteen, Delphi buried a shameful secret which left me threading our next life around a blind spot, pearl by pearl, one memory at a time, reincarnation woman to woman. If the wisdom of the ages be pearls, Delphi and I were a necklace – a cultured double-strand of past and future lives. I disregarded the present as the band of limbo in a dismal rainbow. That listless color of dead purple where red unsuccessfully blends with blue.

From the perspective of the afterlife, time is an immeasurable string of heartbeats spun around a singularity – earth is a ball of yarn adrift in space. Delphi arrived, a lone heart sent to unravel an invisible ball of yarn in a lost painting.”

'THE MADONNA OF THE YARNWINDER' – one of several versions attributed to Leonardo’s pupils

‘THE MADONNA OF THE YARNWINDER’
– one of several versions attributed to Leonardo’s pupils

 

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The Art of Time Travel

 

Salvidor Dali's 'The Persistence of Memory' (detail)

Salvidor Dali’s ‘The Persistence of Memory’ (detail)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Traveling back in time to rescue lost art, interact with artists, and be a fly on the wall in the fifteenth-century has been the premise of most of my books starring Leonardo da Vinci, Sandro Botticelli, the two ‘Mona Lisas.’ The fantasy of time travel is the only place to meet them.

When a painting goes AWOL it leaves a gaping hole in an artist’s career and sets up an obsessive lure for treasure hunters. Art collectors program peripheral vision and x-ray vision to scan for sightings and clues.

Paintings have been moved underground for their own safety and been abducted for ransom. War trophies have been confiscated. Paintings and sculptures have been moved like chess pieces, hoarded, coveted, stolen, celebrated, and… lost. Paintings sold to the highest bidders are ferretted away from public access, but the worst offence is art which has been destroyed by accident or sabotage.

Each painting represents an entire species; its demise is an extinction. Hearsay and copies and sometimes hazy photographs can only tempt and frustrate the lovers of art. No wonder I play what-if with time. Naturally, lost art is a mystery to solve but it’s much more. It’s missing DNA in an artist’s life. Burned love letters are a testament to intimate relationships. Time abounds with keys without locks, memories without paper, frames without paintings. And time knows where these things are.

Time knows the whereabouts of the ‘Nike of Samothrace’s’ head, and the ‘Venus de Milo’s’ arms, and the lower panel of Leonardo’s ‘Ginevra de Benci.’ Time knows the colors of the ‘Last Supper,’ and who really posed for the ‘Mona Lisa.’ Time knows what was said while the vanity fires in Florence were stoked with Botticelli’s paintings in 1497, and who spirited his other works to safety, and where Leonardo was buried.

Time has misplaced Leonardo’s and Mozart’s bones, and the love letters of Jane Austen and Dickens, and the psychic conversations between artists and their muses.

But what if paintings absorbed such conversations? What if art recorded events? What if we could send someone or some device back in time to capture the profound beginnings and endings of lost works? What if an android could bring a destroyed work back to the present world?

Once a painting is destroyed it no longer has a physical presence to influence history. Only an ethical time traveler could wind back to its final moments and retrieve it without destroying the timeline in a world that keeps ticking in chronological time.

Cherry White is such an android.

In life, she was Delphi Sharpe, a child savant with the psychic ability to read paintings through touch.

In death, her body was frozen in stasis for fifty years.

In time, history is opened like a pocket watch. After the logistics of molecular time travel is discovered, Delphi’s brain is implanted into a hybrid android, Cherry White, designed to cherry-pick destroyed artifacts of the past.

Cherry White must safely navigate time as well as survive the greed of a crooked art syndicate and deliver payback to the institution that considers her a machine.

But what if Delphi’s death was no accident? There are secrets to unfold and love stories to tell, and great distances to travel as greater discoveries of the origins of art, the artists muse, and the anthropology of the human race is revealed.

What if an UNTIMELY death is a passport to the rebirth of lost art? What if it takes two lives to make one woman? What if two women learn a life unloved is a life unlived?

A savant’s mind, a psychic’s hands, and a child’s lost soul leads to supernatural discoveries about the evolution of emotion. Paintings will speak, the world will regain a few of its priceless art treasures and sometimes time reveals where they have come to rest.

‘Cherry White’ is in post-production and will be published in May, 2015. To be notified of the exact launch date, please join this blog.

V KNOX/VERONICA KNOX TIME TRAVEL NOVELS

*available directly on Amazon, or linked through the author’s book store on this website. Please read excerpts on my book page, above.

‘Second Lisa’ a trilogy fantasy of the lost life of the ‘Mona Lisa’ lured from her painting in the Louvre by an autistic boy and his mother. Themes of reincarnation and time travel during bouts of lucid dreaming reveal lost loves, missing paintings, and the irony of an anonymous woman being the most famous face in the world.

‘Adoration – loving Botticelli’ is a paranormal romance. A retired art history professor continues a love affair with a figure in a painting, begun when she was an art student, after she revisits the Uffizi gallery on a final pilgrimage to her ghostly lover.

'The Hourglass of Time' by author Veronica Knox

‘The Hourglass of Time’ by author Veronica Knox

For middle-grade readers (age 10-12) with an advanced vocabulary:

‘Twinter – the first portal’ is a time-slip fantasy. Ghosts, time-travel, a dozen terrible secrets, and a curse of snow takes a pair of psychic twins on an adventure in ancient Egypt and into the future where the safety of earth’s ecosystem lies in their hands.

 

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He’s no oil painting!

Dominican friar, Girolamo Savonarola

Dominican friar, Girolamo Savonarola

If burning books is bad consider this control freak…

Florence, Feb 7-1497

Girolamo Savonarola was the mastermind (I use the term loosely) behind the burning of several of Sandro Botticelli’s paintings, and other works of a pagan theme. Only religious icons were permitted to survive his public ‘Bonfire of the Vanities.’ Fortunately some of Botticelli’s famous works like the ‘Birth of Venus’ and the ‘Primavera’ were painted furniture panels for a private residence in the country too far from the eyes of Savonarola’s personal army of boy spies.

SAVED: The 'Birth of Venus' - Sandro Botticelli

SAVED: The ‘Birth of Venus’ – Sandro Botticelli

Savonarola stirred the Florentines into a holier than art frenzy, and burned books, silk dresses, game boards, mirrors, jewelry, statues, perfumes, cosmetics, wigs, and anything labeled as items celebrating the sins of decadence and vanity.

He was born the same year as Leonardo da Vinci, and martyred in 1498

But the Dominican priest went a fire too far and was arrested as a heretic, and subsequently sacrificed as a martyr on his own pyre.

The execution of Savonarola 1498

The execution of Savonarola 1498

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Victory for Art

 

The Nike of Samothrace

The Nike of Samothrace

The ‘Nike of Samothrace,’ also known as ‘The Winged Victory of Samothrace’ is a marble sculpture representing the goddess, Nike (Victory)

This Hellenistic statue with its characteristic windblown draperies has been the presiding Queen of the Louvre since its discovery in 1863 on the island of Samothrace.

She is an imposing eight-foot tall iconic figure displayed at the head of the Daru staircase. Her central position symbolically divides the visitors ascending the stairs to the right and left.

Nike on the Daru staircase in the Louvre.

Nike on the Daru staircase in the Louvre.

In my science fiction time-travel novel in progress, ‘Cherry White,’ the Nike represents the victory of humans splitting from their ape ancestors 43,000 years ago to create the first cave paintings at Lascaux, France.

Paleolithic cave painting in Lascaux, France - c. 43,000 B.C.

Paleolithic cave painting in Lascaux, France – c. 43,000 B.C.

 

 

 

 

 

If creativity symbolizes the pinnacle of man’s evolution, then the muses of old, charged with guiding the minds of artists, may be the ethereal winged messengers who continue to influence the evolution of the arts.

The statue’s arms are now lost, however, the right hand was recovered along with an earlier relic of a finger, and both are displayed under glass in the Louvre Museum.

If Nike’s head were to be found it would alter forever this enigmatic messenger who sees more and says more without eyes or mouth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Boy Friday

Francesco, 'Cecco' Melzi - age 14

Francesco ‘Cecco’ Melzi – age 14

Meet Count Francesco Melzi,

Leonardo’s most important apprentice, secretary, archivist, confidante, guardian bulldog, and the executor of his estate after a friendship of only thirteen years.

Francesco, ‘Cecco,’ made his way to Leonardo’s studio in 1506 at the age of fourteen as an apprentice. He was invaluable, and likely the reason Leonardo was later able to retire in more than concept. Cecco began assisting Leonardo to organize his notes into treatises and document his portfolios in the last years of his life.

The conservation of Leonardo’s collective works was Cecco’s legacy to his master. Without his efforts, Leonardo may have become as invisible as Botticelli until he was ‘discovered’ by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the Aesthetic Movement of the romantic poets, and the ‘Mona Lisa’ may have remained a portrait of a housewife hanging on a hook in someone’s spare room. It can happen. One of Leonardo’s lost works (the ‘Salvator Mundi’) took this ignoble journey and was found in 2005. Others remain in hiding. How do I know? I am a writer of historical fantasy and a believer in serendipity over vast periods of time.

The historical facts show the ‘Mona Lisa’ had her moments in the shade. There was a time when she was so shuffled out of fashion, relegated to a government office, completely out of favor. For years she graced Napoleon’s bathroom. She was often displaced from the whims of a wife or personal taste. She was not always a valued asset.

The crime of kidnapping shot her to fame and granted Leonardo a spotlight denied him for centuries. He and Lisa emerged from the shadows, and now it’s Cecco’s turn.

Cecco accompanied Leonardo to the home, Clos Luce, that King Francis I provided for him in Amboise. It was a sister residence near his own palace, the Château d’Amboise in the Loire Valley. The two residences were connected by an underground tunnel.

Clos Luce, Amboise. Leonardo's retirement home

Clos Luce, Amboise. Leonardo’s retirement home

It’s enticing to imagine this is the first journey the ‘Mona Lisa’ took without her creator and protector when she was delivered to the king shortly after May 2, 1519, the day of Leonardo’s death. Cecco would have wrapped her in lambs wool and oiled skins and accompanied her as one of his last promises to his master. If only tunnels and walls and bedposts could talk.

One has to read fiction to see what the tunnel saw and hear the last conversation of master to devotee. Happily for me, I can transform into wallpaper, speak ‘tunnelese’ and translate the forgotten language of bedposts.

‘Second Lisa’ is my first novel to celebrate the ‘Mona Lisa’ and Leonardo, and in my latest ‘Cherry White,’ the story of Leonardo, Cecco, and the ‘Mona Lisa’ take a new turn around the dance floor, when a sentient android is designed to harvest the lost works of the Italian Renaissance’s fifteenth-century.

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