Title: Da Vinci’s Tiger
Author: L.M. Elliot
My rating: 3/5
Goodreads rating: 3.36/5
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Young, beautiful, and witty, Ginevra de’ Benci longs to take part in the artistic ferment of Renaissance Florence. But as the daughter of a wealthy family in a society dictated by men, she is trapped in an arranged marriage, expected to limit her creativity to domestic duties. Her poetry reveals her deepest feelings, and she aches to share her work, to meet painters and sculptors mentored by the famed Lorenzo de Medici, and to find love.
When the charismatic Venetian ambassador, Bernardo Bembo, arrives in Florence, he introduces Ginevra to a dazzling circle of patrons, artists, and philosophers—a world of thought and conversation she has yearned for. She is instantly attracted to the handsome newcomer, who admires her mind as well as her beauty. Yet Ginevra remains conflicted about his attentions. Choosing her as his Platonic muse, Bembo commissions a portrait by a young Leonardo da Vinci. Posing for the brilliant painter inspires an intimate connection between them—one Ginevra can only begin to understand. In a rich and enthralling world of exquisite art, elaborate feasts, and exhilarating jousts, she faces many temptations to discover her voice, artistic companionship, and a love that defies categorization. In the end, she and Leonardo are caught up in a dangerous and deadly battle between powerful families
I received this book from my December Owlcrate and I was immediately ready to read it. Just the summary is rather intriguing and it just oozed Historical Fiction goodness. Renaissance Italy is a very interesting part of history as many cultural breakthroughs are happening. It was lovely to read about it and how Ginevra was coping with the restricting role of women back then. But as you can see from my rating, there were some issues with this story as well.
This story follows Ginevra, a noble woman who enjoys the non-womanly interests of poetry and art. Though being such a intellectual woman seems more like a curse then a blessing, she suddenly finds herself in a world full of muses, art, ‘platonic’ relations and of course love. Ginevra must navigate her way through the drama of being the surprise receiver of a handsome ambassador’s affection and the muse of the young Leonardo Da Vinci while keeping the respect and elegance of being a woman.
Now to put it simply, the plot was boring. Don’t get me wrong, there were some rich cultural chapters in the middle of the book, but there wasn’t enough to really keep me hooked. Not a lot seemed to be happening. You have some romance here and there and then Ginevra being a little bit of rebel, and art and poetry, but I think the novel was ‘fattened’ up by loads of filler. Meaning loads of unecessary information. It was almost as if Elliot was showing off with all of the research that she did and I wished she didn’t because I felt disconnected with some parts of the story because of the lengthy backstories.
There were no shocking plot twists or anything to make the book a little bit more exciting, though this meant that the pace was constant and the plot was smooth. But not a good smooth, a plain smooth if that makes sense. Because of this, the book reads less than an exciting, riveting fictional story, but a plain, factual account.
Oh my lord the amount of info dumping in this novel is exhausting. I could of easily put this in the plot part of this review, but this is mainly a writing issue. This way of getting information from the writer and to the reader will always end with a bored reader. Seriously, from the first couple of chapter you get so much information that isn’t useful but good for book building a guess, but completely unrelevant. I believe strongly that if you cut out the info dumping in this book, you would still have a boring book, but at least it wouldn’t drag. A simple backstory about some of the characters that are the MAIN characters would of sufficed better then giving us such extensive knowledge within the first couple of chapters. It gets better, thankfully, but that was not a way to start a book.
Some good things about her writing though was how she described the culture and the art and more importantly Ginevra and Leonardo’s passion for art. It was refreshing to have Ginevra written this way as I think you can really see the cogs in her brain working and see how intellectual Ginevra is. And how Leonardo describes painting is very lyrical and captivating.
Ginevra seemed like the perfect protagonist on paper. Naiive, rebellious, intelligent, creative, spirited and though we see some moments when she is, her character is flat. You don’t really see her jump off the page like a mountain tiger even though she had many moments to do so. I did enjoy reading from her point of view but I think the lack of action in the plot really did hinder her. It was great to read about Leonardo. You really get the creative and philosophical vibe with him. But also the hint of youth that he is normally left without. The bond between Ginevra and Leonardo was very lovely to read and enjoyed the almost tense scenes that they shared when talking about art or philosophical matters.
What I liked:
- The descriptions of the art
- How Ginevra was written and described
- The bond between Ginevra and Leonrdo
- How romance was handled
What I disliked:
- Flat plot
- One dimensional characters
- The info dumping
- Less fictional and too factual
Verdict: This book was a little too factual, flat and slow for me. Though I enjoyed the story to a point and there were golden moments when the culture, the characters and the writing fitted well together, those moments were few and what we were left with was a factual retelling of a poet with all of the too many facts kept in.