To be published on November 10, 2015 by Katherine Tegen Books
[This book was given to me by the publisher, this in no way affected my opinion.]
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.
The strength of this book is its history accuracy, its beautiful descriptions and love for art. It's clear reading it that Elliott is a lover of history (or at least of Italian Renaissance) by her through research of the facts and possible facts, I know this is fiction but there is something magical when reading a historical book and seeing that this stories could actually have happened. The descriptions of Florence were breath taking, everything felt really vivid and oh, how I wish I could go there right now and see all the places that are sited on the book. If you love art this book will be a treat, we have Leonardo da Vinci and Verrocchio as main characters and get to see they creating, as well of a lot of other artists and works being mentioned - I specially loved the fact that Elliott took some of Leonardo lines from his actual diaries so yeah, that was cool.
But where this book felt short for me was on its characters. I never really got attached to Ginevra, I understand her inside fight but she never grew on me as a strong carrier of this book. The other main characters hardly were worth mentioning based on their character growth, it just lacked a more emotional connection to me. The one character that amused me to no end was Leonardo, every scene that he was in was a good one, but unfortunately it had very few of those (for me).
In true this book is a dedication to the Italian Renaissance of the XV century, it's a imaginative version of historical facts and of works of art.