Tuesday, November 10, 2015

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

Da Vinci's Tiger is a fictionalized historical account of Ginevra de' Benci who is the subject of Leonardo Da Vinci's first painting, the only Da Vinci that exists in the United States.

The story is Elliott's take on how that painting might have been created. Ginevra is a real character, as are most of the characters in Da Vinci's Tiger. The author supposes that there may have been a romantic interest between the Genevra and Leonardo.

Da Vinci's Tiger is also a study of what it was like to be a woman in the 1400s. The politics involved in arranged marriages and the existence of Platonic lovers--no, I'm not kidding.  Genevra was chosen by the ambassador from Venice, Bernardo Bembo, to be his Platonic lover. This means he admired her and would give her gifts and pay her attention as if courting her, but the relationship is platonic. As it should be, since Genevra is married. Her husband was honored that Genevra was chosen. How weird. So Elliott speculates that it was Bembo that commissioned Leonardo to paint Genevra.

We are given a taste of several other aspects of the time: jousting, life in a convent, how art was created. It all adds a richness to the story. Genevra wrote poetry, and the only line of poetry of hers that still exists is I beg your pardon, I am a mountain tiger. Hence the name of the book.

Da Vinci's Tiger is a well researched fictional account and includes an afterward from the author about the factual information she started with.

I wouldn't say Da Vinci's Tiger is riveting or fast paced. It's a relatively short book that held my interest mostly because I was interested in the subject. I did have trouble keeping the characters straight at first (this tends to be a weakness of mine, so it might not be an issue.) The Italian names that all sounded the same challenged me. I'm not sure this will be an easy sell to the average teenager, however art students should really enjoy Da Vinci's Tiger. Maybe if they've read any of Elliott's other books they would be interested.

Published by Katherine Tegen, November 10, 2015
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
304 pages

Rating: 3.5/5





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