The author of the Stravaganaza series reveals the muse behind Michelangelo’s David.
Hoffman provides a possible inspiration for Michelangelo’s famous sculpture in the form of Gabriele, a handsome fictional stonecutter whose mother served as Michelangelo’s wet nurse. Gabriele comes to model for his “milk brother” in Florence during a time of political unrest. The city is split between the compagnacci, who wish to return the city to royal Medici family rule, and the frateschi, who follow the teachings of martyr and Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola, an outspoken opponent of the Medici’s wealth and influence. Michelangelo warns Gabriele to steer clear of Florence’s politics. But impressionable Gabriele is adopted by the frateschi even as his good looks earn him work as a painter’s model for a member of the compagnacci. Soon he finds himself a pawn in a street war that threatens his very life. While the concept is intriguing and the research meticulous, the execution is as dry as the frequently mentioned marble dust. Florence’s turbulent political history is provided to the reader through long, didactic speeches from a confusing crowd of secondary characters that slow all action to a standstill. The entertaining passages that detail Gabriele’s youthful sexual indiscretions, which break up the long-winded political talk considerably, are regrettably few and far between.
Nonfiction masquerading as a novel and failing as either sort of narrative. (character list, historical note, glossary) (Historical fiction. 13 & up)