Argh, this is my first read of the year, is a tough one to rate, and left me feeling completely dissatisfied.
Yes. As you can imagine, I’m a bit angry.
Because..let’s look at the big picture, shall we? I picked up dVT because it’s has two things: art and history. I am an artist. I am, more specifically, a painter. Da Vinci isn’t my favorite artist (that honor goes to Monet), but I like him nonetheless. I also love the Renaissance, and, consequently, am very picky with the historical details. But the details were gotten right. That isn’t what concerned me.
No. What infuriated me is that I actually was liking the book fine. In the first half, all was good. I wasn’t loving it, but everything was decent. It was shooting for 3.5 or even 4 stars.
But then, around 70% mark, dVT suddenly trips on its own shoelaces and falls flat in the mud, just inches away from the finish line. And despite the cheering it’s getting from the sidelines to get up and finish this race already, dVT says “To hell with this” and crawls on all fours to the end when, with a little extra pressure, it could’ve scored first place still standing.
My point is, the last 30% knocked a full 2 stars off my rating. What a shame.
*heavy sigh*. What else is there to talk about?
Ah, yes. Characters. Here we go.
Aside from being slightly confused from the huge Italian cast with first names that are very very similar (I mean, come on. Ginevra, Guillano, Giovanni.. I CAN’T KEEP UP WITH THIS. GAH.) and last names that are just as similar (de’ Benci, da Vinci, de Medici, Vestpucci, Verroccio..) I felt overwhelmed. Very, very overwhelmed.
But this isn’t the author’s fault, really. That is what these people were called, after all.
No. What I can reasonably fault the author for, though, is character development.
Let’s start with Ginevra de’ Benci. She was very.. mhm.. how shall I put it? Naïve. And downright silly sometimes. I did not enjoy having to see the book from her POV.
And young Leo da Vinci? My feelings for him were a rollercoaster. When he was first introduced, I disliked him. Then I kind of liked him around 30%, then hated him again.
So the verdict? I did not like Elliot’s take on da Vinci.
The only character I did like was Simonetta, but Ginevra’s jealousy toward her kind of.. killed it for me.
That’s all I have to say about the characters.
What else? Ah: the plot and flow of the storyline itself are constructed in a very odd way. The prologue and epilogue are essentially Ginevra’s thoughts after her eventual death, but I found myself wondering how that works? And the last 10% is suddenly ‘2 years later’, which is such an abrupt shift that I found myself suddenly disconnected from the story.
Alright, I’m done. Even as a fan of Renaissance art and historical fiction, I found Elliot’s novel severely lacking.