Monday, 4 July 2011

Review: David - Mary Hoffman

David by Mary Hoffman, published by Bloomsbury on 4th July 2011 

Goodreads synopsis:
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 na├»ve 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.

This book combines beautiful imagery, vivid descriptions and sensuous detail.  'David' by Mary Hoffman vividly recreates the sense of what Italy and Florence in particular must have been like in 1501 when the city was split by two warring factions: the pro-Republicans and the pro-Medici supporters.  Hoffman uses this period in time as a backdrop for her novel which combines historical detail with fictional imaginings.  I'm a massive fan of historical fiction and Mary Hoffman is the queen of this genre.  It did take me a little while to get all the names of the characters straight in my head and to acquaint myself with this particular period but once I had, I was literally swept away.     

The book is centred around the story behind the famous statue of David.  Mary Hoffman explores the character on which the statue could have been modeled and provides an insight into why it was so significant at the time. 

Real life figures such as the great sculptor Michelangelo and the painter Leonardo da Vinci feature in the story, as well as fictional characters like Gabriele del Lauro, a stonecutter from Settignano, who arrives in the city to find work but soon becomes embroiled in romantic entanglements and political rivalries and whose life becomes full of intrigue and deceit.  I love books which visualise historical figures and breathe new life into them so this was something which really appealed to me.  Plus, for lovers of fine works of art, there's also a glimpse at the very famous portrait of the Mona Lisa with a story about who sat for the painting.  I found all these additional elements of the story absolutely fascinating and totally engrossing.   

The historical detail in the novel is informative, educational and incredibly interesting.  You can easily see how much research has gone into the book.  I kept jotting things down as I was reading, so that I could go and look them up later.  The people and the places were fascinating and I now have such a longing to go and visit Florence and see the famous statue of David for myself. 

Magical storytelling, a strong narrative pace and an intriguing plot combine to make this a really enjoyable read.  Fans of K.M Grant will love this book, as will historical fiction lovers.  No one does it as well as Mary Hoffman!

Don't forget to drop by on July 28th, when Mary Hoffman's stopping by as part of her blog tour for 'David'.  She'll be talking about some of her favourite places to visit in Italy.  I can't wait!

Find out more about Mary on her website:

Or check out her blog at:


  1. great review, I have a feeling I am going to have to get this one soon as I keep reading awesome things about it! :D

  2. Found your review on google. :) I've been thinking up and down about whether or not I should get this book, but your review has me sold! I like that you say it's obvious there's been a lot of research done, because I like historical fiction with a generous helping of fact. :)
    Thanks for the awesome review!

    Tina @


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