I’m going to start this review off with explaining that I love history. I have my favorite periods, but for the most part I love ALL history. One of the main reasons that I picked this book up was because ever since I started watching The Da Vinci’s Demon’s I have wanted to read more about it. Previously, this period was one that I’ve heard about, read about, but never been interested in much.
So to preface this review, while I was reading this book I was picturing this!
With that background knowledge let’s get on with the review:
The first thing that I noticed about Da Vinci’s Tiger was how absolutely brilliant and well written it was. I’ve read some historical fiction where the only thing that was similar was the names of the characters and nothing really gave you a sense of the time. This book had this in spades! Now, because I’ve been introduced and read about the story (and enjoyed) it the historical content did not bog down the book. But to those who might not be aware or not like too much historical content it might be a tad too much and overwhelm. But you can definitely tell that Elliot knows what she is writing about and I love it!
Ginevra de’ Benci, Leonardo Da Vinci, Bernardo Bembo, and Lorenzo de Medici are all characters that came to life on the pages. They live the lives of Florentine elite, where clothes must be perfect, parties must be grand and full of excess, and the societal philosophical movement that surrounds them. Ginevra isn’t a character that before this book that I was familiar with. I am ashamed to say I didn’t know that she was Di Vinci’s first painting so it was interesting to become more aware of her through the eyes of Elliot.
If there is a fault in this book I would have to say that it would be in the fact that it broke my heart that there wasn’t a romance to root for in this book. In the beginning of the book, Ginevra, like many high born females of this time period, was promised to a man twice her age and of lesser stature and rank by her uncle. She catches the eye of Bernardo who is very much interested in her to become his Platonic muse; a concept that basically meant that a woman became a man’s muse (or friend) and is not a sexual arrangement. As I read it, basically the woman was there to tempt the man but if he resists the temptation, it would bring him closer to God. Honestly, I felt like this whole idea was good in principal but in execution just ended up being just a shit show of hypocrisy that was not in short supply during this time period.
If you love history and you want to read a tale of a woman breaking free of the societal restrictions and expectations, Da Vinci’s Tiger is a book for you!
I’ll end you with a quote that I think I’m going to remember for a long time. It makes me feel so lucky for living in a time and in a country where my sex does not limit me. It makes me want to do so much for those women who still feel the weight of oppression.
“Sing for us. Sing for yourself. Sing of what treasures like inside women’s hearts and minds if men but look beyond their preconceived notions. We think, we feel, we bleed when hurt. We have courage when tested. Someday men may laud rather than fear that. That is my hope.”