When I met up with Mary last year at a book launch, I had the chance to talk to her about her "next book" and was super excited when I heard about her writing the story of the boy/man behind Michelangelo's David.
I love Mary's historical novels and I know Sarah is always very excited about Mary's Stravaganza novels, so we are definite fans of the author.
But I had my doubts before tackling David. I was wondering if the statue which I do love, which had always seemed so distant, so aloof, needed to have its story told. Of course I needn't have worried and trusted in Mary's very capable hands.
We meet Gabriele, milkbrother to Michelangelo, when he moves from his small village to the larger more prosperous, Florence. He travels there to become a stone-cutter but on his first night, he is robbed and welcomed into the arms of Clarice, an aristocratic lady of means. Gabriele left behind his sweetheart Rosalia and we see that he is perhaps a bit fickle and easily led astray by how easily he succumbs to Clarice's charms.
It is only when Michelangelo returns from a trip away, that Gabriele leaves Clarice's arms and goes to live with the artist. Through Gabriele we are introduced to the artist he calls Angelo. Angelo's character is intense, obsessive and a bit paranoid and possessive about his creative work. He takes this large piece of marble and works on it with a wild energy, carving this vision of the young David, having conquered Goliath.
Angelo works on the statue's carving for two years and during these two years, Gabriele, the face of David, goes through this tremendous character arc, changing from a rather backwards young man who becomes comfortable with his good looks, he finds a cause and he becomes a thoughtful young man who learns far more about himself than he probably thought he ever would.
I found that the novel was written, as always with Mary, with a great sense of style and grace. Her attention to detail is incredible. It feels like, should you rub your hands or you face you will come away with a dusting of marble powder. If you walk down the road, you will come across a well dressed young noble dressed in elegant clothes, who may give you a sly and cheeky smile.
I hesitate to recommend this for younger readers as the themes are quite mature, so I think it is definitely appropriate for the upper and older age range of our Under 14's Only age group and older. And it is a must read for anyone who has an interest in art.
Find Mary's website here.
Edited to add: Apologies to Mary and Bloomsbury for this - Blogger ate the review and refused to set it live. I had to copy it across, delete it twice and resave it ... it was a nightmare, BUT I hope the MFB blogtour stop was worth it.