Genres: Historical Fiction
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Young, beautiful, and witty, Ginevra deÔÇÖ 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 philosophersÔÇöa 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 themÔÇöone 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’m normally not a big reader of historical fiction. It has to be something that truly interests me or grabs my attention. So when “Da Vinci’s Tiger” by L.M. Elliott arrived with December’s Owlcrate box, I was skeptical.
And it took me a few pages to get into the writing style and story as it was so widely different from what I normally did. But once I got hooked, I got lost in Florence at the time of the Renaissance, mingling with the Medici family as well as Leonardo DaVinci and I absolutely loved it.
The book is told from Ginerva de Benci’s perspective, a young woman – to our standards still a young girl – who is so far ahead of her time. Unwilling to be merely someone’s wife, part of a business deal or a pawn in political games that men play, she yearns for freedom. Freedom to express her thoughts, her feelings – without society dictating who she should be and how she should behave. She wants someone to see more than her beauty or her chastity – and instead recognize the person behind the pretty dresses and the polite behavior. The woman who has a sharp and inquisitive mind. Who thinks for herself and has an abundance of knowledge and ideas. And who creates beautiful poetry.
She catches the attention of Bernardo Bembo, a powerful man., who chooses her as his Platonic love. He awakens desires in her, thoughts and feelings that she’s only read and heard about, but never experienced. But it’s nothing compared to the intrigue of the young artist Leonardo DaVinci, who not only paints her but sees her true soul – with no ulterior motives.
The setting is truly captivating. The facts in this book are well researched and highly educating, without being boring or dragging. Instead, they are beautifully woven into a compelling story of a woman finding herself and her voice. Of art and beauty, politics and religion. There are so many fascinating details, so much to discover and learn – I was just glued to the pages.
Ginevra’s character, based on the real life Ginerva de Benci, fascinated me fiercely. She had an insight and a strength of character as well as courage that earned my admiration. In a time where women were nothing more than a man’s possession, she stood up for herself and what she believed in. She let her voice be heard and wasn’t quieted by anyone’s expectations. She was a modern woman in old-fashioned time. A feminist, a revolutionary.
And so was DaVinci. The things I learned about him from this book made me realize he wasn’t just a brilliant mind and a good guy, but a beautiful soul.
This book got me to think and feel and that’s something you want of your read.
Again, a great Owlcrate surprise.
5 a-woman-to-look-up-to stars.
~Review by Paula