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THE DIVINE PROPORTIONS OF LUCA PACIOLI

A well-imagined celebration of Pacioli’s life and philosophy.

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A fictional recounting of the life of a Renaissance mathematician and cleric.

Parker’s debut novel, part of the Mentoris Project of historical novels and biographies celebrating notable Italians, tells the story of Luca Pacioli, who combined mathematics and religion in 15th- and 16th-century Italy. After growing up in the town of Sansepolcro, Pacioli is apprenticed to a merchant who doesn’t appreciate his enthusiasm for Arabic numerals. He finds a more supportive mentor in artist Piero della Francesca, and this association leads Pacioli to new connections and collaborations as he develops his skills and Italy goes through religious and political turmoil. He’s ordained as a friar, publishes several books on mathematics and related topics, and works with various artists, including Leonardo da Vinci (“We made an odd couple, surely, one atheist and one devout friar”). Throughout his career, he draws connections between math and religion, particularly in his investigation of the divine proportion of the book’s title—a ratio that appears throughout the natural world. This novel hews closely to its subject’s documented history, and Parker does an excellent job of imagining the rest, including cameos by historical figures, such as Martin Luther. Some stylistic choices add to the book’s feeling of uniqueness; for instance, each chapter ends with a number in the famous Fibonacci mathematical sequence. The narrative is also presented as a memoir that Pacioli is dictating to a young scribe, who leaves occasional footnotes throughout the text. Parker ably explains Pacioli’s theological approach to math and balances the book’s spiritual and historical elements. However, Luca’s frequent asides to the reader (“I want to make sure you understand this reference since it’s important you grasp my sense of humor and the type of playful banter Guiliano and I had with one another”) can break the novel’s flow at times. Although some readers may be unsatisfied with the novel’s deliberately open-ended resolution, many are likely to appreciate the intriguing history and well-rounded characters.

A well-imagined celebration of Pacioli’s life and philosophy.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-947431-27-0

Page Count: 238

Publisher: Barbera Foundation, Inc.

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2019

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MAGIC HOUR

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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