(Historical Fiction: completed manuscript – 99,022 words)
The title of this historical novel, Leaning Tower of Pisa, is derived from the Italian translation, La torre pendente. While pendente does have leaning as one of its meanings, it can also mean pending or unresolved. Perhaps despite the powerful forces that have attempted to bring it crashing down to a heap of shattered rubble, the actual leaning tower in Pisa, Italy has, for centuries, captivated visitors as a symbol of strength and resilience in the face of existential threats.
This book is the story of two people named Pisa, each of whom, like the famous tower, face pressures, but of a different kind; from the harm caused by an abusive father and the agony of addiction, to the tyranny of a religious despot.
The plots of the two intertwining storylines in this novel follow the development and subsequent influence of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, a book first printed in Venice by Aldus Manutius in 1499. While there have been many theories put forward by art historians, the author of the book remains unknown, as does the person responsible for the illustrations.
This novel proposes that the work was written by Lorenzo de’ Medici and the illustrations created by Pisaro Montelupo, an artist under Lorenzo’s patronage. Filled with intrigue and suspense, the Renaissance thread of the book explores the relationship between Lorenzo and Pisaro (Pisa for short), and the devious plots brought about to prevent publication of their project, as well as the schemes to destroy the work entirely in the infamous Bonfire of the Vanities.
The contemporary storyline is the tale of a modern-day Pisa, a Canadian artist of Italian descent who discovers the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili while in Venice preparing for an exhibition. This narrative takes a profound look at the transformative effect the ancient work has on a recovering addict and his creative process as a contemporary artist.
We live in an age when human rights seem to be under threat. The allure of Leaning Tower of Pisa is grounded in its potential to inspire social change and provide us with the hope, passion and strength we need to create a better world for diversity in all its forms, to live and love – facilitated by a unique, and entertaining prose.