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The Second Mrs. Gioconda (1975)

by E. L. Konigsburg

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1,2981115,066 (3.61)10
Relates, from the point of view of his servant Salai, how Leonardo da Vinci came to paint the Mona Lisa.
  1. 00
    Father's Arcane Daughter by E. L. Konigsburg (raizel)
    raizel: Another book by Konigsburg which in part deals with people who merit further examination.
  2. 00
    Leonardo's Shadow: Or, My Astonishing Life as Leonardo da Vinci's Servant by Christopher Grey (Caramellunacy)
    Caramellunacy: Both are young adult historicals about serving Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo's Shadow is about the artist's time in Milan painting The Last Supper. The Second Mrs. Gioconda is about the creation of the Mona Lisa - and the development of Leonardo's relationship with Salai - thief turned servant.… (more)
  3. 00
    The Painted Kiss: A Novel by Elizabeth Hickey (infiniteletters)
  4. 00
    I, Mona Lisa by Jeanne Kalogridis (infiniteletters)
  5. 00
    The Smile by Donna Jo Napoli (HollyMS)
    HollyMS: Both are youth works about the Mona Lisa.
  6. 01
    The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (Runa)

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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
A round-about way of giving insight into Leonardo da Vinci's personality, Konigsburg's story is given from the perspective of one of his assistants. We are also sympathetic to The Duke's young wife and come to respect her honesty and ability to find/create joy in the life she was dealt. Altho we know the book will be about the Mona Lisa, it isn't until the very end that we find out who was the model for this painting. Very creative & believable presentation of life in Renaissance Italy (tho what do I know). I liked hearing about some of the inventions, and all the different interests of DaVinci.
I thoroughly enjoyed this and will keep the book to share with friends & visitors. ( )
  juniperSun | Jul 18, 2018 |
this is where I start really appreciating how her protoganists are not perfect and we're not trying to change them so they are.

esp with leonardo, it's gotta be hard not to go all "Great man" trope and make him be everything. instead we see the thin skin and a self-distancing --- and friends who love him for who he is and want him to be happy. loving people as they are is an amazing thing to see in kidlit ( )
  ansate | Jul 19, 2017 |
Sigh. My pile of books to review is getting so large I'm having trouble seeing my new books through the stack. Guess I'd better get reviewing.

So, this book is kind of weird, and it's one of those "I though it would go this way, but it went that way" books. And not in a good way. It was sad, and it seemed like Konigsburg was just toying with our emotions. I didn't really care about the MC, and when I googled the actual events (it's the kind of book that makes you do research afterward, I'll give it that) it was very clear she took quite a few liberties with some of the actual people involved.
That's to say, it's not all bad. It's educational (it touches on a lot of info about Leonardo da Vinci), and might make people interested in the Mona Lisa. Maybe I'm coming across more negative than I really feel about the book, because I read it a few weeks ago (thus the long list of books to review . . . ), but I didn't feel a spark. Or even a zing. (For those of you who have seen Hotel Transylvania, that make a little bit more sense).

Go read Mixed Up Files. Believe me, that beats this by a mile in every way. ( )
  Jaina_Rose | Mar 1, 2016 |
nice story ( )
  katieloucks | Feb 26, 2016 |
This is a tale of how Leonardo de Vinci came to paint the Mona Lisa. It also provides an hypothesis as to who the mysterious lady is who became the subject of this famous painting. The main thread through this tale is Leonardo's relationship with his servant Salai, reknowned best for his dishonesty and thievery. The novel was a quick, light read and one must remember that is historical fiction. ( )
1 vote SheilaCornelisse | Jan 9, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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for Paul, Laurie, and Ross
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Why, people ask, why did Leonardo da Vinci chose to paint the portrait of the second wife of an unimportant Florentine merchant when dukes and duchesses all over Italy and the King of France as well, were all begging for a portrait by his hand?
"It is not so much a work of art as it is a labor of art. I think Messer Leonardo impresses more when he tries less. ... A person looking at a work of art should not be slapped to attention; he should be wooed." (p. 92)
"Salai, I ask you to see to it that Master Leonardo keeps something wild, something irrespnsible in his work." (p. 93)
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Relates, from the point of view of his servant Salai, how Leonardo da Vinci came to paint the Mona Lisa.

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Could the complex ways these three lives intertwine hold the key to a historical riddle as enigmatic as the Mona Lisa's smile--why Leonardo da Vinci devoted three years to a painting of the second wife of an unimportant merchant when all the nobles of Europe were begging for a portrait by his hand?

Only a master storyteller like the two-time Newbery Medal-winner E.L. Konigsburg could create such an intriguing answer to the puzzle behind the most famous painting of all time.
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