David by Mary Hoffman
|David by Mary Hoffman|
|Reviewer: Jill Murphy|
|Summary: Hoffman imagines thestory behind one of the world's best known sculptures, Michelangelo's statue of David. Rich in historical detail, she brings renaissance Florence alive in all its politics, intrigue and culture.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288||Date: July 2011|
|External links: Author's website|
It's 1501 and Gabriele is in Florence without a penny to his name. As a greenhorn country boy, he managed to get himself robbed almost as soon as he arrived in the city. But he does have one big advantage: a renowned sculptor as a step-brother. Gabriele hopes this will be enough to find him work, but little does he dream that he will soon find himself the model for one of the world's greatest pieces of art - Michelangelo's David. Or that he'll become intimately embroiled in the deadly rivalries and politics of the city. As the statue of David is slowly created, Gabriele will have to walk the line between the republican faction and those supporting the return of the Medicis without being exposed by either. It won't be easy...
I would have absolutely loved this novel as a teenager. In fact, I loved it even though I'm now in haggard middle age. Hoffman writes straight, high quality historical fiction. Her books aren't romances in fancy dress and there aren't any supernatural elements (I don't mind supernatural elements, but wish they weren't quite so a la mode). What they provide are cracking realisations of actual events, told through the eyes of fictional characters. Gabriele del Lauro never lived, but he exists alongside Michelangelo in this book and illuminates his story. Renaissance Florence rises vividly from the pages in all its politics and intrigues as they mingle with its love of art.
Gabriele himself is an attractive and engaging character. He is beautiful - of course, else how could he have been David? - but he is also intelligent and hugely appreciative of art. He is tremendously well-meaning and although he makes a few mistakes along the way - fidelity isn't his middle name - you never doubt his stoutness of heart. Hoffman's Michelangelo is also completely credible, as are the host of cameo appearances by any Florentine artist you care to namecheck. It's awesomely well-researched and easy to read. The line between anachronism and inaccessibility is quite a fine one, but Hoffman treads it with ease.
Highly recommended for all teen fans of historical fiction.
My thanks to the good people at Bloomsbury for sending the book.
More super historical fiction for teens: The Fool's Girl by Celia Rees, based on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night; The Witching Hour by Elizabeth Laird, a beautifully written story about the witch hunts of the 1700s and the persecution of the Covenanters in Scotland; The Highwayman's Footsteps by Nicola Morgan, inspired by an Alfred Noyes poem.
You can read more book reviews or buy David by Mary Hoffman at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy David by Mary Hoffman at Amazon.com.
Mary Hoffman on the inspiration for David was written for Bookbag in support of David by Mary Hoffman
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