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Feminism & Florence | Book Review: Da Vinci’s Tiger by L.M. Elliott

Da Vinci’s Tiger is a very well researched YA book that fans of the Renaissance will want to check out!

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

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da vinci's tiger l.m. elliott book review

Title & Author: Da Vinci’s Tiger by L.M. Elliott

Genre: Young Adult – Historical Fiction

Release Date: November 10, 2015

Series: Standalone

Publisher: HarperCollins

How I Got the Book: ARC via the publisher


“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.”

For Hardcore Historical Fiction Fans

Da Vinci’s Tiger is one of the most authentic YA historical fiction books I’ve ever read. Renaissance Florence completely came alive – from jousting tournaments to Platonic love to the role of art in everyday life.

This is the type of story that is so well described that you feel like you can close your eyes and take a 360 degree look at everything the author created (or recreated).

What struck me the most about Da Vinci’s Tiger is its unflinching look at life at that time. Some historical YA books make allowances for the sake of the ultimate plot or a romance. For example, some historical novels might ignore the fact that a 16 year girl would probably already be married to ensure she has an exciting romance.

Not so with this story. It is made clear from the very beginning that Ginerva is married to an older man in a clearly political match. For that reason, Da Vinci’s Tiger has a wholly unique feel to it, knowing romance may not be a key ingredient.

I was very surprised about the feminism represented in the story. Ginerva is a very strong character, despite conforming to the niceties and rules of her time. I was interested in seeing places where women could have freedom, though, and the sort of open desire of wanting more. It fit within the context of the book, and it added another layer that I enjoyed.

The trouble with Da Vinci’s Tiger is that despite the rich detail and Florence’s flair, I’m not sure how much I enjoyed the reading experience. This is not a story with a lot of emotional payoff.

It felt like the history and accuracy of the events being told got in the way of creative license. This book read like a biography more than fiction. That is 100 percent OK, but I was hoping for more of a personal connection and a feeling of satisfaction at the end.


If you enjoy historically accurate books with hints of feminism, then give Da Vinci’s Tiger a try. Despite the great art and events described, this book felt dry at times and offers few rewards for finishing it. Da Vinci’s Tiger is a well-written novel that is geared toward hardcore history buffs vs the YA reader wanting ups with their downs.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • Ooo! This sounds great! *adds it to her To-Read list on Goodreads*
    Thank you for the review!