Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Book Review: Da Vinci's Tiger by L.M. Elliott

I received my copy of this book in my second OwlCrate box, in December 2015. I started my subscription the month before and wasn't sure if I would continue because November's box didn't interest me that much. December's box was once again somewhat disappointing to me - while I appreciated some of the items, this book did not interest me in the least. I had not touched it for nearly a year, but I decided I needed to give it a chance, especially considering that the other OwlCrate books I've read have not necessarily been favourites, but certainly weren't disappointments. So, even though I still didn't really want to read it, I picked it up because I wanted to get it over with, and I had a certain amount of faith that OwlCrate would not let me down.
***WARNING: Spoilers ahead!***
Da Vinci's Tiger
by L.M. Elliott
For fans of rich and complex historical novels like Girl with a Pearl Earring or Code Name Verity, Laura Malone Elliott delivers the stunning tale of real-life Renaissance woman Ginevra de' Benci, the inspiration for one of Leonardo da Vinci's earliest masterpieces.

The young and beautiful daughter of a wealthy family, Ginevra longs to share her poetry and participate in the artistic ferment of Renaissance Florence but is trapped in an arranged marriage in a society dictated by men. The arrival of the charismatic Venetian ambassador, Bernardo Bembo, introduces Ginevra to a dazzling circle of patrons, artists, and philosophers. Bembo chooses Ginevra as his Platonic muse and commissions a portrait of her by a young Leonardo da Vinci. Posing for the brilliant painter inspires an intimate connection between them, one Ginevra only begins to understand. In a rich and vivid world of exquisite art with a dangerous underbelly of deadly political feuds, Ginevra faces many challenges to discover her voice and artistic companionship—and to find love.
I might have found the story more interesting if there had been an actual romance between Ginevra and Leonardo, not just her feelings and imaginings and his more-or-less rejection of her.
This one ended up being a quick read for me, it only took me a few days, but that was largely due to an unexpected snow day and me wanting to cross it off my list, and not so much a reflection of the book's intrigue.
While I was invested enough to continue reading, I was not terribly interested in the story. I do sometimes enjoy historical fiction, but it is definitely not my go-to genre. This particular time period/location (Florence, Italy in the 1400's) does not interest me, nor do I have any particular interest in classical art or poetry. The last 5 pages of the Afterword detailing the historical facts leading to the story's concept, were much more interesting and educational than the story itself. Perhaps it should have been a Foreword... maybe knowing the facts ahead would have made the fiction more interesting to me.
In any case, I did not hate the book, but I certainly wouldn't re-read it, nor do I think I would recommend it. I gave it 2 stars on Goodreads (which is an "it was ok").

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