• Oil and Marble

  • A Novel of Leonardo and Michelangelo
  • By: Stephanie Storey
  • Narrated by: P. J. Ochlan
  • Length: 13 hrs and 34 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (2,309 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From 1501 to 1505, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti both lived and worked in Florence. Leonardo was a charming, handsome 50-year-old at the peak of his career. Michelangelo was a temperamental sculptor in his mid-20s, desperate to make a name for himself.

Michelangelo is a virtual unknown when he returns to Florence and wins the commission to carve what will become one of the most famous sculptures of all time: David. Even though his impoverished family shuns him for being an artist, he is desperate to support them. Living at the foot of his misshapen block of marble, Michelangelo struggles until the stone finally begins to speak. Working against an impossible deadline, he begins his feverish carving.

Meanwhile, Leonardo's life is falling apart: He loses the hoped-for David commission; he can't seem to finish any project; he is obsessed with his ungainly flying machine; he almost dies in war; his engineering designs disastrously fail; and he is haunted by a woman he has seen in the market - a merchant's wife, whom he is finally commissioned to paint. Her name is Lisa, and she becomes his muse.

Leonardo despises Michelangelo for his youth and lack of sophistication. Michelangelo both loathes and worships Leonardo's genius.

Oil and Marble is the story of their nearly forgotten rivalry. Storey brings early 16th-century Florence alive and has entered with extraordinary empathy into the minds and souls of two Renaissance masters. The book is an art history thriller.

©2016 Stephanie Storey (P)2016 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Oil and Marble

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Fact and Fiction Fuse for a Great Listen

Review
I rarely read book reviews until after I have read the book and posted my own, but in this case I made an exception because the genre is so far outside of that which I usually read. What I found were some wonderful reviews written by some very enthusiastic and seemingly knowledgeable art lovers, so, as one who knows very little about art, my review will be from a very non-arty-type point of view.

I did find it a little hard to get immersed in the story, but once I changed my mindset from worrying about what is fact and what is fiction to one of simply listening to and enjoying the story for what it is, (fiction loosely based on fact) I really got into it and enjoyed it.
No art expertise required!

The main story is, of course, based on the rivalry between da Vinci and Michelangelo, both being attributed with artistic temperaments and each man being highly reactive to the achievements of the other. Each artist is featured in alternating chapters; their lives, families, loves and their careers, the highs and the lows.

Despite the rivalry and dislike between the two men, the older daVinci is shocked and distressed when he hears that Michelangelos' completed statue of David might have suffered damage at the hands of vandals. This revealed another side to his character; the side that believes that, above all else, art is everything.
I enjoyed the chapters about daVinci more so than those about Michelangelo, I'm not sure why, maybe because he was older and had more interesting things going on in his life; the account of his attempt to re-route the river in order to prevent flooding was fascinating to me. He seemed always to be working on various projects, improving the old and inventing the new.

Michelangelo seemed to have but one obsession, his "David", he also seemed to spend a great deal of time feeling hard done by and sorry for himself, but then, those characteristics may have been the result of the authors artistic licence.

I loved the accounts of how people lived in those times, the streets, the buildings, the food and drink, their clothing. I can't imagine how many hours that the author would have spent in researching this for her work, dedication indeed!

I would highly recommend this book to those who love historical fiction, but art lovers, especially those who are really knowledgable, do need to bear in mind that, despite the factual content, it is a work off fiction.

Narrator
A narration of well over 13 hours and with many characters is no mean undertaking and I admire the narrator, P. J. Ochlan, for his consistency. Each character has an Italian accent and P.J. Ochlan succeeded in giving each one a distinct voice, I enjoyed them all, I thought he captured the complaining tone of Michelangelo perfectly.
I did find that listening to the Italian accents a bit wearing, but that really is just a personal preference, many audiobook listeners believe that accents add a nice touch of authenticity.

Audiobook provided by the author, narrator or publisher in return for an unbiased review

40 people found this helpful

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Where is Edoardo Ballerinin when you need him?

This was a fascinating story with an awful reader. My favorite reader Edoardo Ballerini could have made this 5 stars all the way. Instead I had to listen to horrible Italian accents and very draggy reading style. I loved the book, I didn't know anything about the rivalry between DaVinci and Michelangelo so that was quite interesting. Having been to Italy and being lucky enough to see David, the Pieta and the Sistine chapel - it was fun to listen to historical fiction surrounding these amazing works of art. Read the book instead or at least I warned you about the narration.

37 people found this helpful

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Masterful Storytelling

A friend recommended this magnificent story about the art geniuses of the Middle Ages. It is a imaginative story of inspiration, rivalry, dedication and uncertainty.

It parallels the divine discomfort that can accompany undertakings large and small.

20 people found this helpful

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Great historical fiction story

The year is 1501 and Stephanie Storey tells a highly-imagined tale of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarreti as they return to Florence. At fifty years of age, Leonardo is the elder statesman in the area of art and science. Michelangelo considers himself a sculptor and has been distinguishing himself in Rome.

The story is about the rivalry between the two men. In Florence, the city fathers have offered a commission to Leonardo to carve the Duccio stone. A huge but damaged piece of marble, but he refuses the commission. A destitute Michelangelo takes on the commission. The hostility between the two men goes on while Michelangelo carves David and da Vinci paints the Mona Lisa.

The writing is average but the book is well researched. It is written in an entertaining way. The dialogue is sharp and the book is loaded with information. This historical novel reminds me of one of my favorite books from the 1960s by Irving Stone entitled “The Agony and the Ecstasy”. Stone chronicles the painting of the Sistine Chapel. Storey does a good job of accurately portraying the state of renaissance art and Italian politics of the era. Story brings these two men to life. Story has a way to go to reach the quality of Irving Stone who is considered a master of the historical novel but she is well on her way.

P. J. Ochlan is an author, voice over artist and a multi-award winning audiobook narrator.

13 people found this helpful

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EVERYBODY TALK-A LIKE DIS!

Pretty good tale poorly told. The narrator speaks every sentence like it is an all-caps newspaper headline, no dynamic subtlety whatsoever. Also, why in the world do characters need accents when they are all speaking the same language, Italian?! The accents were cheesy and hack, very Marx Brothers, and completely unnecessary. Every supporting character ends up sounding like an oily sleaze, female gender is indicated simply by the narrator softening his tone--which I find objectionable--and both main characters sound petulant all the time and highly unattractive to the reader / listener. Also, the writer's use of the language is not always masterly. Example: spirits do not buoy, they ARE BUOYED by an external force. Frankly, I feel an alert editor should have caught usage and syntax errors such as this throughout the novel. This is all very frustrating because, as I mentioned, it's a pretty good tale with interesting and accurate historical detail.

11 people found this helpful

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love it

The moment I hit play, I couldn't put my phone down. My passion and intrigue for the setting and historical figures involved along with the fantastic writing and narration led to a great listening experience. As if that weren't enough, this work is filled with worthwhile life lessons that stand to enrich the lives of those who take them to heart. As an artist myself, this book gave me a great deal of inspiration and drive to create my best work.

11 people found this helpful

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I do not have the words to praise this book. I am speechless

If you love art, have studied art, or are curious about the two most famous artist during the Renaissance, this book will captivate your mind and senses!

7 people found this helpful

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Great story !! Great narration!

The outstanding narrative performance enhanced this intriguing and inspiring historical novel. The author brought the artists to life revealing all of their talents, emotions, struggles, and accomplishments. Absolutely loved it!!!

7 people found this helpful

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Outstanding!

LOVED it. And the narration was the best I have heard. I am eagerly awaiting Ms Storey's next work and hope P.J. Ochlin will read it again. Wonderful!!!

6 people found this helpful

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Insipid. Awful. Had to stop listening.

This book was chosen for my book group. I wanted to like it and was interested in what I can learn about Leonardo and Michelangelo.
Unfortunately the book goes from chapter to chapter focusing on some imagined melodramatic scene. It then describes these ridiculous scenes with an absurd amount of detail. Someone is always misunderstanding, always overreacting and generally acting foolish.
I forced myself to listen for over 5 hours. I just could NOT make myself continue.
5 hours in, what is the book even about?

The narrator seems to make the material even more insipid. His booming Italian accents grate on the nerves. He makes ridiculous scenes even more buffoonish.
SUCH a disappointment in every way.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Paul
  • 01-05-18

Very poor

What disappointed you about Oil and Marble?

Everything. It had no redeeming features. After the first few chapters I really thought it was an attempt at comedy.

What could Stephanie Storey have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

I don't think that there is anything that could rescue this book

Who might you have cast as narrator instead of P. J. Ochlan?

The narrator was hopeless. But the subject matter is so poor that it might be harsh to heap too much blame on his shoulders.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Oil and Marble?

Please don't ask. If I was editor the project would never have got near publication.

Any additional comments?

I'm really disappointed that Audible would allow such rubbish to assail its members. I don't expect Shakespeare every time but come on !!This by a long way is the worst effort I've ever bought from Audible. I really regret that I did not read Jessica's review before wasting one credit.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jessica
  • 07-08-16

Horrible monotone plastic narrator

I am perhaps being a little unfair in only giving this one star, since I only got about four minutes in. I was fascinated by the blurb and synopsis, and the cover looks lovely (literally enacted a cliché right there - never judge a book by it's cover). I should have listened to the sample first.
This could be the best and most fascinating book in the world.
I will never know, because listening to the narrator was like chewing foil.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Pigs might fly
  • 01-24-21

American accent for this - really?

When a period novel about Renaissance Italy is on the cusp of being good, it would be helped enormously if it were not to be delivered in a broad American accent. I'm afraid this audio book was spoiled by this for me. No particular fault of the narrator at all - just that it needs a more appropriate dialect.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Gadfly 23
  • 09-06-22

Very Grateful it was in Plus Catalogue

I didn’t last long - I suppose it’s possible it improves but far too much like listening to a class report from Bart Simpson or similar on renaissance painting techniques with a bit of sex chucked in. The narration was as aggravating as the text.
No wonder it was included.

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  • Ann O
  • 09-02-22

Brilliant

I really enjoyed learning about two of the most famous pieces of Art. I liked how detailed it was historically and the views of both Artists. I highly recommend this. Narration was excellent too

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  • Erika
  • 08-18-22

Coffee table art lovers dream book

I had this ebook from the plus catalogue and am so pleased I listened to it. The story is beautifully written with interesting and believable detail that suggests to me that the author Stephanie Storey understands art and art history well. The book was easy to listen to and the narrator PJ Ochlan managed to bring just sufficient voice to his characters to keep the listener engaged. The story was in fact so interesting and full of both well imagined detail as well as historical snippets that the listener is very well entertained even though I feel the narrator was ever so slightly flat in his reading presentation. I recommend this book highly to anyone who likes a pleasant easy to listen to and quite intelligent historical fiction. Whilst this book is under the category of fiction, many of the events are documented history and the author has used that true documented history to create a very plausible and engaging story around these great giants of western art. Love this book entirely and can’t praise it enough. I will look for more from this author.

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  • F
  • 08-14-22

Keep listening and try to ignore American accent

The American accent of the reader is very off-putting for non-American listeners: no disrespect intended to the narrator.
The issue is that the story is set in the first decade of the 1500’s namely renaissance Italy and more specifically Florence. The Americas were only discovered in 1492. Accordingly for a historical novel there is a huge disjoint between the American narration, the American terminology and accuracy of period details. There is also the irritation of the American narration jumping to using various Italian accents during the extensive dialogues of the characters. It would have been more authentic for a real Italian who speaks English with an Italian accent to narrate.
At one point there is reference to a stew of tomatoes and beans. Were tomatoes known in 1503/4 in Italy since they came from the new world discovered in 1492? Even if known by then in Italy would they have entered into everyday cooking for ordinary people?
There is much reference to the statue of David being covered by a tarp. This sounds like slang to non- American ears which are used to the word tarpaulin to refer to such a covering. It just does not sound culturally correct for the period to refer to a tarp.
Then there are a number of descriptions of Leonardo in particular and his clothes of pink and purple wearing tails. Firstly is there any evidence of what colours he wore and secondly tails as male dress sounds more like nineteenth century attire than sixteenth.

These are nitpicking points about the book and the reading.

On the other hand it is a novel, and the author has generally done a good job of weaving an engaging story around the few known facts in order to put flesh on the bones of the known characters for a specific historical period.
I really enjoyed learning about the process used by Michelangelo for his execution of the statue of David. I saw it at the age of 9 in Florence in 1970 in the days before hordes of tourists . It did not occur to me then that it was such a major piece of work for the sculptor.

15 years ago I took my son to Paris and we saw the Mona Lisa in the Louvre, at a distance, due to the tourists in front of the painting. We were not very impressed and preferred the huge Delacroix painting of Napoleon crowning himself.
However since listening to this book I now understand better what the painting depicts.
I have previously read another book about Leonardo , a novel, La Gioconda, which makes it clear that there are sparse details known of the man and the subject of the painting. This novel does a good imaginative job of turning sparse facts into living and breathing characters. Although no one can ever know exactly what went on in the minds of the main protagonists at the time.
I think this book is likely to appeal more to artists and persons interested in history of art.
It could be quite a polemic book for discussion at a book group!

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  • xBethyboox
  • 01-27-22

Absolutely loved this!

As an artist, I absolutely loved this! I loved the description of artistic mediums and the inspirations and the sketching/painting/sculpting/creating but also the bringing to life of the making of these masterpieces and the masters who created them! 100% recommend this book to fellow artists!

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  • Tom O'Rourke
  • 11-21-21

Excellent

Enjoyed every moment of this exceptionally read and produced jaunt through the history and lives of extraordinary different sentient souls that will forever be remembered for their creative spirit and ability to ride out the storms of their times; beauty is perpetual.
Tom O'Rourke 1953 ..? love always