Readers Guide Questions
1) Caterina's life seems, from the beginning of the story to the last page, to be based on deceit. Did this bother you at all? Do you think she should have regretted it more, or do you think the ends justified the means?
2) Did you find it believable that Caterina fooled as many people as she did with her disguise?
3) What did you feel were Caterina's strengths? Her weaknesses? How did you feel about her relationship with Lorenzo? Her father? Leonardo?
4) Did you ever feel that Caterina was an overbearing mother, or became too involved in her son's life?
5) What surprised you the most about Caterina's character as you went through this journey with her?
6) As portrayed in this novel, was Leonardo da Vinci a sympathetic character? If you had lived at the end of the 15th century in Italy, would you have like to have known him?
7) Did knowing that the heroes and heroine of Signora Da Vinci believed in pagan and Hermetic principles rather than Christianity make you like them any less? Any more? Have you explored any religions outside the Judeo/Christian/Muslim tradition?
8) Did the practice of Alchemy by the members of the Platonic Academy strike you as a plausible pastime? Do you feel, after reading this book, you have a better understanding of medieval alchemy?
9) What aspects of Leonardo's life and career were most interesting to you - his art, inventions, dissections and anatomical drawings, his philosophies and notebooks? If you had had a chance, what questions would you have asked the maestro?
10) All the Medici men suffered from severe gout and many of them died of its complications. Does this surprise you? When you think about the middle ages, what other diseases do you associate with the times?
11) Does reading this book make you want to further explore any aspects of the Italian Renaissance, the characters or plotlines Robin Maxwell has written about?
12) Some historians see the Dominican Friar, Savonarola, as a church reformer and martyr. Do you feel that the citizens of Florence deserved his extreme "reigning in" of their luxurious lifestyle, his "bonfires of the vanities?" Do you think he deserved burning at the stake?
13) Before reading Signora Da Vinci , did you believe the Shroud of Turin was authentic, or a hoax? After reading this book, have your feelings shifted? Is a camera obscura photograph of a corpse's body and Leonardo's face a reasonable explanation in your mind?
14) The author portrays Roderigo Borgia quite sympathetically. From what you know, or have read about the Borgia family in general, was his positive characterization plausible? Did you find it hard to believe that even a pope might have Hermetic and pagan leanings?
15) Did Lorenzo il Magnifico Medici seem too-good-to-be-true as a medieval ruler? As a human being? Do you think he should have been written with more foibles, or did you enjoy falling in love with him as Caterina and the author, Robin Maxwell, did?
16) Superstition, with its omens, heavenly signs, talismans and worshipping of holy relics, played a huge role in medieval life. What are the modern equivalents of these beliefs?