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I, Mona Lisa by Jeanne Kalogridis
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I, Mona Lisa

by Jeanne Kalogridis

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6652921,798 (3.86)23
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Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
A vividly and plausibly imagined novel of the events that shook the city of Florence to its foundations in the late 15th century.

A lot of the names will be familiar to the casual student of Italian and Renaissance history: Lorenzo and Giuliano de Medici; the Pazzi and the Sforzas; Pope Alexander; Michelangelo; Leonardo da Vinci; Pico da Mirandola; Savonarola; Mona Lisa. For the traveler, streets and places rise like specters in memory: the Via Larga; the Market and the Plaza del Grano; the Signoria; the Baptistry and the Duomo.

While these names and places may be familiar to many, the events that I, Mona Lisa recounts will probably be unfamiliar: the Pazzi Conspiracy, the events surrounding Savonarola and the Bonfire of the Vanities that convulsed Florence in the late 1400s. Kalogirdis patiently recounts these events, grounding her narrative in a plausible and vivid historical world. The story immediately begins with Lisa di Antonio Gherardini, the daughter of a prosperous Florentine wool merchant, at the age of about 12 and asking to have her horoscope done, something that was somehow overlooked at her birth. Then the story abruptly shifts to April of 1478, the young brothers Lorenzo and Giuliano de Medici, and the Pazzi Conspiracy. I thought it odd that Kalogirdis would suddenly take the story so far in to the main character's past, before her birth even, and retell the events so vividly, but as I was enjoying the story I trusted the author to have a good reason for doing so, and I let the story carry me along. By the time I was a little over half done with the book, I realized that I couldn't have cut a word of the book out and not seriously harmed the arc of the story; every word, every detail has a purpose and cannot be ignored. Descriptions are succint but evocative, no paragraphs or sentences could be removed wholesale without their absence being acutely felt.

When I finished I, Mona Lisa I actually felt that the author had rushed the ending, as details and story threads she'd been cultivating since page 1 came together suddenly, crisply, and the novel's events moved to a stunning conclusion that nonetheless left me feeling dissatisfied, like the story should be a bit longer and we should linger over the conclusion. And yet real-life events hardly happen that way, there's a lot of leading-up-to and then all of a sudden it's over.

I can see why, and yet I am a bit surprised, this was shelved in the Mystery section of the library. It has a handful of small mysteries at the heart of its plot, but it is not a who-dun-it. Well, sort of. The who-dun-it is not the most important part of the story, even though it is the impetus that propels a few of the characters forward. Sort of. It's a complex set of miniature stories, a river of impressions and experiences and questions, large and small, a literary Arno which carries the characters and the reader on its currents. ( )
  mrsmarch | Nov 28, 2018 |
I am not an art historian, but it seems that the is some consensus that the subject of the painting we know as the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is in fact Lisa Gherardini. Some things are known about her, but not much. However, these things are woven into the history of Florence, particularly around the time of Lorenzo da Medici and his sons. It's a great story, most unlikely, but still very entertaining.
At the start of the book one may become a bit overwhelmed by names; it may be worthwhile beforehand to read a summary of the history of Florence at this time, especially the plotting of the Pazzi and their instrument, Savonarola, against the Medici in the late 1400s. The author sits to the facts quite closely, not like the screen writers of the recent TV series The Medicis. ( )
  robeik | Aug 22, 2017 |
I loved this book. As another reader states it does give a plausible account of the painting of the Mona Lisa and more importantly a view of the Medici family in Florence at the time. As I intend to visit that city in the near future the are a few place I would like to visit as a result of reading "I, Mona Lisa." My 4 star rating may be stretching it a bit but not by much. Definitely worth a read. ( )
  DCarlin | Jun 8, 2016 |
Review: The first seventy-five pages were confusing with all the characters and titles to remember. So, it was a slow start for me but it didn’t take long to follow and understand this lovely story. The Author created a great performance in writing this novel. I do wish there was more to the story in the unifying of Mona Lisa and GiulianoI at the end. I think it was a great book to read.

I, Mona Lisa……A short introduction about the daughter, Mona Lisa to deliver a message to the reader why the Author wanted to inspire the repeated impact as the story progressed. The story starts with a murder, committed the year before Mona Lisa was born.

Within the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, April 26, 1478 the atmosphere was intense with the thoughts of bringing down the wealthy and powerful brother’s, Lorenzo and Giuliano de’ Medici. The conspiracy was for the Pazzi, another wealthy high powered family to win and rule a new Government and take over being the ruler of Florence. Florence was governed by the signoria, a council of eight priors and the head of state. These men were chosen among the notable Florentine families but the majority were always loyal to Lorenzo Medici. As it was the gonfaloniere of justice was controlled by Lorenzo.

The slaying of the two Medici brother’s was the first of the Pazzi’s removal of men and the beginning of replacing of several people to be loyal to their Pazzi’s family to help them get control. Their were some who were offended by Lorenzo’s way of living and putting his people above all others. There was one man who offered his banking services and was rejected by Lorenzo Medici. His name was Bernardo Bandini Baronselli. He then turned his back on Lorenzo and was snatched up by the Pazzi in hope for a place in the new government. Some time later he would realize he made a very bad choice…

The men to attack the Medici brother’s in the Cathedral were now getting into position. The older brother was waiting for Giuliano to appear. Once his younger brother had arrived he sensed something was not right. The Mass started and then when the signal was brought forth the fighting and killing began. Lorenzo Medici was fast and already knew which way he was headed to get away from his attackers. He did get injured by trying to find his younger brother but also fled when he new he could not save him. Giuliano de Medici was stabbed and badly injured and to weak to get away. He died that day in the Cathedral…..That is when Lorenzo went mad and harmed and killed many people in revenge to his brother’s death…..

This is where the story begins with Antonio and Lucrezia Gherardini, their twelve year old daughter Madonna Lisa. There was a unforgettable wonderful person, a slave and caretaker to Lucrezia and then her daughter throughout the story. As I read on I had plenty questions and waiting for the answers was well worth the wait. There were many twists and turn in this story that kept me reading with interest. Being an historical read made it even more enticing. Between the family members and who was friend or foe made the battles and adventures more intriguing. So many secrets, mysteries, descriptive characters, profound behaviors, alleys and buildings of another century made the novel swell in abundance of wealth and poverty,
justice and unfair treatment, being born and dying for Power……
( )
  Juan-banjo | May 31, 2016 |
This book beautifully describes the world Leonardo da Vinci lived in. It throws up an intriguing (if historically incorrect) possibiltiy for the identiy of Mona Lisa and why the painting was never finished. A good read ( )
  SabinaE | Jan 23, 2016 |
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Epigraph
Things that happened many years ago often seem close and nearby to the present, and many things that happened recently seem as ancient as the bygone days of youth.--Leonardo da Vinci, Codex Atlanticus, fol. 29v-a
Dedication
For George, forever.
First words
My name is Lisa di Antonio Gherardini, though to acquaintances I am known simply as Madonna Lisa, and to those of the common class, Monna Lisa.
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Published in Britain as: Painting Mona Lisa
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312341393, Paperback)

"My name is Lisa di Antonio Gherardini Giocondo, though to acquaintances, I am known simply as Madonna Lisa.  My story begins not with my birth but a murder, committed the year before I was born…"
 
Florence, April 1478: The handsome Giuliano de' Medici is brutally assassinated in Florence's magnificent Duomo. The shock of the murder ripples throughout the great city, from the most renowned artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, to a wealthy wool merchant and his extraordinarily beautiful daughter, Madonna Lisa.
 
More than a decade later, Florence falls under the dark spell of the preacher Savonarola, a fanatic who burns paintings and books as easily as he sends men to their deaths.  Lisa, now grown into an alluring woman, captures the heart of Giuliano's nephew and namesake.  But when Guiliano, her love, meets a tragic end, Lisa must gather all her courage and cunning to untangle a sinister web of illicit love, treachery, and dangerous secrets that threatens her life.
 
Set against the drama of 15th Century Florence, I, Mona Lisa is painted in many layers of fact and fiction, with each intricately drawn twist told through the captivating voice of Mona Lisa herself.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:01 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Set against the drama and danger of 15th-century Florence, "I, Mona Lisa" is an intricately drawn tale that rings through with the captivating voice of Mona Lisa.

» see all 3 descriptions

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