Friday, 15 July 2011

Book Review: David by Mary Hoffman

DAVID by Mary Hoffman

Publisher:  Bloomsbury
Released:  July 2011
Review Format: Paperback
Source:  from Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review (thanks Bloomsbury!)
Pages:  255

Michelangelo’s statue of David is famous around the world. Millions flock to Italy every year to admire the physical perfection of the young man captured within the marble. But the identity of the model has never been known . . . until now. In this epic tale, acclaimed author Mary Hoffman imagines the story of Gabriele, a naïve but incredibly handsome young man who is hired as Michelangelo’s model, only to find himself drawn into a world of spies, political treachery, and murder. Set against the vibrant backdrop of Florence in its most turbulent times, this is a rich, colorful and thrilling tale that gives life to one of the world’s greatest masterpieces.
David is set in Florence, Italy at the beginning of the 16th Century and is about a young man called Gabriele who leaves his home in the countryside to hit the city and make some money so he can return to his village and marry his sweetheart. His plan is to find his ‘milk brother’ Angelo, more recognisable to us as Michelangelo, the famous sculptor.

Gabriele’s story is narrated by the man himself in his senior years and at points through the story he’ll talk about something Gabriele or Angelo are working on or doing and tell you that actually it never came off or was never finished and later in the story you find out why. This worked really well and made me more compelled to finish the book.

I loved reading about Florence – the art, the buildings, the people and personalities we met and their way of life. Mary Hoffman’s descriptive is superb! I really liked Gabriele, but he was quite naïve and although his character did develop somewhat, I was also a little disappointed in him too, which I’ll explain later.

One of the major plotlines running through the story is the politics in Italy and in particular Florence at the time Gabriele and Angelo are there with the different factions fighting for leadership of the city. Unfortunately this part of the story went right over my head and most of the time I just ended up confused. Gabriele was very caught up in these political wars to the extent where he put his own life on the line on more than one occasion, but it annoyed me that he just took on whatever opinion he was told and became a ‘sheep’ when he had a strong enough personality to reach further than that.

As I’ve mentioned above, David is set in Italy and so obviously there were a lot of foreign (to me) names and words in the book. At times I found this very confusing and often had to refer to the back of the book where there is a list of all the names used and who they were.

David does contain sexual content and would be most suitable for older teens and adults. All in all I did enjoy the parts of the story about Gabriele and his life immensely, but the overrunning political aspect of the story made it a very difficult read for me.

My rating: 3 stars


Between The Lines said...

I've been to Florence several times and absolutely loveee it! I've also seen the statue of David and it really is beautiful, alhtough I'd never even given any thought to the model before! I love the place and time that this is set, so will definitely be reading it :) thanks so much for posting!

Leanna (Daisy Chain Book Reviews) said...

We had much the same feelings on this one. I loved the premise of the book, but it just didn't really work for me. The politics went over my head too, and as for the historical note and list of terms at the back of the book, well, I didn't find them until I was done reading, so they didn't help me much! lol!

I think they should have been at the front of the book, really.

Small Review said...

I'm curious about this book, but I'm not sure...I think I would feel similarly to you with your complaints about Gabriele and I think I'd probably be confused with the politics, too. I don't know much about that time period.

Gina @ My Precious said...

Great review, as always. But this one's not for me, politics and history send me running far away! LOL