“It will make you, and all of us, immortal, my dear.”
Da Vinci’s Tiger by L.M. Elliott tells the tale behind an early work of Leonardo Da Vinci. A short and young adult, historical fiction novel that takes us through a time in Renaissance Florence, when the Medici were the most powerful house and one if not the richest family in the world.
Ginevra de’ Benci is a young and beautiful woman in Florentine society. Her family is allies to the Medici and she has married a man, twice her age, for a political gain to her family. She is a pawn in a game like many women of noble blood were at this time. Florence is looking to strength its ties with Venice and Milan, two of the other city-states in Italy. A Venetian ambassador has come to the city at the request of Lorenzo de’ Medici, il magnifico. In Florence, it is common for a man of power to have a platonic lover, like Lorenzo has Lucrezia and Giuliano has Simonetta, the Venetian ambassador, Bernardo Bembo has set his eyes on our main character Ginevra.
He wants to have a piece of art done of her to bring home with him to Venice. This is where Da Vinci comes in. Da Vinci is commissioned to do the painting of young, Ginevra de’ Benci. The discussions that she has with Leonardo really opens Ginevra’s eyes to many of the problems in their medieval world. Her view on life is changed forever.
Ginevra de’ Benci by Leonardo Da Vinci.
I was excited to dive into this book. If you did not know, I LOVE the Medici family and this time in world history. Sadly, this book let me down. Right off the bat when I saw that it was in first person perspective, I became hesitant, I prefer third person, but I will still read the book. There are some instances where onomatopoeias are used and I am not a huge fan of those, just describe the noisy. Words were drawn out at least every other chapter, one example is on page ninety-six in chapter nine, “Hmmmm.” Good Reads labels this book as a romance, don’t read it if that is what you are looking for. It is barely touched on and one thing that annoyed me would be they would talk about when they went to dinner the Medici villa, I think it would be better if the writer wrote out the dinner than just mentioned it two weeks later.
My main complaint about Da Vinci’s Tiger is the characters!! I feel like there was no character development whatsoever. They just felt rather flat and I would have liked to know them more. I think Leonardo was the most interesting character but then again, is it possible to make Leonardo Da Vinci sound boring. I like Sancha as well, she was one of Ginevra’s maids.
Time for what I liked about this novel. I absolutely loved the Tuscan setting. I wish that more books would take place in Florence and around the families that lived there, the Italian peninsula was just so interesting at this time. Elliott was very descriptive and made this book feel so atmospheric, the way she described the art, the fashion, and architecture of Florence was truly beautiful. The way that she described Venice as well, I want to read a book that is set there now, if you have a suggestion, tell me in the comments!
It is obvious that L.M. Elliott did her homework for this book. I have three suggestions of nonfiction books that might make for an interesting read if you would like to read them alongside Da Vinci’s Tiger.
1. The Medici by Mary Hollingsworth
2. Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson
3. April Blood by Lauro Martines