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I Belong

Review: Da Vinci’s Tiger by L.M. Elliot

Da Vinci's TigerTitle: Da Vinci’s Tiger

Author: L. M. Elliot

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Series: N/A

Publication Date: November 10, 2015

Format: Hardcover, 304 Pages

ISBN-10: 0060744243 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0060744243 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Michelle


Young, beautiful, and witty, Ginevra de’ 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 philosophers—a 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 them—one 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.

Quick & Dirty: A romantic tale about Leonardo Da Vinci, his life, and his muse.

Opening Sentence: I beg your pardon, I am a mountain tiger.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

L.M. Elliot’s Da Vinci’s Tiger is about Leonardo Da Vinci, his life, and his muse. I love historical fiction, so when I was asked to review Da Vinci’s Tiger, it was almost a win-win situation. The synopsis had me intrigued, promising me a romance revolving around a great artist and some of the reasons behind his beautiful work.

In a society ruled by men, Ginerva yearns to embrace herself in art movement of Renaissance Florence. But her life is laid out before her, arranged in a marriage from one wealthy family to another. Ginerva is limited, restricted, frowned upon to give in to the call of her poetry.

Da Vinci’s Tiger feels like a historical retelling of Da Vinci’s actual life. The amount of detail, imagery, and historical references are wonderful. To me, it felt like reading a biography. The setting grabbed me, and definitely enjoyed the tale through the characters.

Elliot tells the tale of Da Vinci’s Tiger revolving around Ginevra de’ Benci, Leonardo Da Vinci, Bernardo Bembo, and Lorenzo de’ Medici. And this is where I began to start feeling a little disconnect. I didn’t completely connect to Ginerva. I didn’t feel that she was a character filled with the strength needed to compete with Da Vinci and his art. While she was his muse, I didn’t fully see how.

As for the others, it seemed that there was a higher emphasis on the historical accuracy that it lacked the emotional pull to bring a scene or moment together. I didn’t think anyone in particular stood out, which became a bit of a disappointment for me since this was about Da Vinci.

Often, I feel that character disconnects are based on my taste versus what the author is trying to relay. The writing was well done, and I felt it was that more than anything that kept me reading the story. The pacing was on par with what I thought this book needed. And overall, Da Vinci’s Tiger was just okay.

Notable Scene:

I was giddy. A night of music, high art, and philosophic debate among Florence’s most renowned and beautiful. A night I’d hear about all sorts of exotic things – like Venice, a city that lived on stilts in the sea. And the chance to share one of my own poems! Lord, which one should I bring?

I ran upstairs and lifted the heavy lid of my wedding chest, the traditional Florentine cassone, painted with a scene to encourage a bride in her marital duties. Some were romantic scenes, but most were historical or biblical, representing women’s submission to the rule of husbands. For my chest, Uncle Bartolomeo had commissioned one of the most popular choices – the abduction of the Sabine women by Roman soldiers. I hated it.

As I always did when I opened the chest, I simply closed my eyes to the scene. That day I near fell into it, rummaging for the poems hidden at its very bottom.


FTC AdvisoryKatherine Tegen Books/HarperTeen provided me with a copy of Da Vinci’s Tiger. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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