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I, Mona Lisa + The Scarlet Contessa: A Novel of the Italian Renaissance + The Devil's Queen: A Novel of Catherine de Medici
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; First Edition edition (October 31, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312341393
  • ASIN: B001F0R9YE
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #131,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Set against a backdrop of political and religious conflicts in 15th-century Medici-ruled Florence, Kalogridis's bloody historical (after The Borgia Bride) identifies the subject of Leonardo da Vinci's painting as Lisa di Antonio Gherardini. Lisa was the daughter of Madonna Lucrezia, wife of a wealthy wool merchant who also enchanted both da Vinci and Lorenzo de' Medici's brother Giuliano, murdered by conspirators in 1478. Giuliano's assassination—and the later murder of Lucrezia—presage a reign of religious terror led by a monk known as Savonarola and the retreat of the Medicis in the face of invasion from France's King Charles. An adult Lisa attracts the romantic attentions of a young Medici scion, whom she marries for love. (His father, Lorenzo, commissions her portrait from da Vinci.) But violent events soon separate the couple and a brutal Savonarola follower tells Lisa that her husband is dead—and her father's life in danger—unless she marries him instead. Lisa survives, an avenging angel, proving herself worthy of da Vinci's immortal artistry. Kalogridis's fevered bodice ripper invents a passionate woman behind La Gioconda's enigmatic smile. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"From sexual passion to mortal danger, the dramatic shift of real historical events will keep the reader turning the pages." -Philippa Gregory, author of The Other Boleyn Girl
"Entertaining." -USA Today
"...a dramatic tale from a heady mix of royal power plays and passion."  --Publishers Weekly

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Customer Reviews

I really enjoy how Kalogridis writes historical fiction.
Matthew Schiariti
I really recommend this book for anyone who enjoys historical fiction, and particularly those who've like THE BIRTH OF VENUS or LEONARDO'S SWANS.
I really liked this book, I thought it was very entertaining and a fast read even though it was 515 pages.
T. Holmes

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 49 people found the following review helpful By MLRapp on April 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
After having loved "The Borgia Bride" by Jeanne Kalogridis, I was looking forward to "I, Mona Lisa" with high expectations and was delighted to pour through this wonderful novel filled with historical fact blended with innovative fiction, and twists and turns galore. Set in Florence in the 1490s, the novel tells the story of Madonna Lisa, the woman behind Leondardo DiVinci's masterpiece. The story is a clever and romantic possibility of the reason behind that famous smile (or lack thereof?).

If you enjoy historical fiction, "I, Mona Lisa" and "The Borgia Bride" are two examples of the genre at its finest: wonderful character development, rich plots, a studied knowledge of the place, times and characters (you will recognise famous historical figures throughout both novels), a careful weaving of fact and fiction, and just enough twists and turns to keep the modern reader both interested and engaged. I highly recommend both novels!

P.S. DO NOT READ THE BACK OF THE BOOK PRIOR TO READING IT!!!! Whomever wrote the blurb on the back of this novel certainly didn't want the readers to be shocked about one of the interesting plot-twists more than halfway through the novel. If you want to be surprised and enjoy this book to its fullest, I highly recommend NOT reading the back of the book!
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By ellen VINE VOICE on November 13, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ms. Kalogridis has hit her stride - she makes historical characters come to life - while her The Borgia Bride showed the Borgias in Rome, Mona Lisa shows a different prospective around the same time in Florence. A time of the Medicis, Savonarola, Leonardo. I, Mona Lisa introduces us to the real Mona Lisa, who is the daughter of a wool merchant. When she marries a Medici, becomes embroiled in the turmoil of the time - The main influence of the time was Savanarola - talk about your mad monk - his words crumble Florence - This book makes history come to life. Kalogridis is an amazing writer. She doesn't crank books out every six months, she creates a full picture of whatever era she is writing about, and it's worth the wait. I have been a fan of Kalogridis since the old vampire days (her family Dracul is a must read for fans of Dracula). She is a gracious lady who deserves every accolade she gets. Keep 'em coming Jeanne!
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 11, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The real history of the Italian Renaissance needs little doctoring to make it an engrossing topic - it's full of intrigue, warring families, corrupt Papal power mongers, astonishing wealth and poverty, poisonings, artistic and scientific creativity and amazing beauty. Kalogridis has a wonderful knack for selecting delectible real stories, conducting meticulous research, and then using her pen to write in the missing (possible) personal pieces with results that are a gift to read.

The story she created for "I, Mona Lisa" fills in the blanks behind the secretive smile that has captured the imaginations of millions. The outrageous real events of the time (the Pazzi conspiracy & murders; Savonarola and his priest posse; the corrupt Borgia papacy, etc) are a no-fail back drop for this enthralling story of a love-struck wool merchant's daughter who becomes a political pawn caught up in the espianoge swirling around the Medici, Pazzi and the Church.

The story of Lisa di Antonio Gherardini, the name of the woman believed to be the sitter for Leonardo da Vinci's most famous portrait, follows a familiar formula. We meet her as a young teen and with her witness several traumatic events which fuel her adolescent angst and rebellion against her father. This merchant's daughter manages to capture the eye and then the heart of a Medici prince, and her wiley slave helps her plot to follow her heart. Suddenly bad things happen, danger lurks, and the plot becomes sinister and suspenseful... Lisa takes foolish risks, and then more bad things happen... you just keep turning pages and losing sleep! I won't ruin the ending... but follow the formula. In this light, Kalogridis has not accomplished anything new, but she has certainly excelled at bringing this formula to life!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Mona Lisa on February 16, 2010
Format: Paperback
I understand that this is a work of fiction and as such, it allows the author to take certain liberties with the historical facts and/or events in order to create the story. However, this is not just a work of fiction. It is supposed to be HISTORICAL fiction and that being the case, the author should at least have a certain regard to the historic facts. Ms Kalogridis did an OK job describing Florence during the Renaissance times but did Leonardo da Vinci a disservice by creating him completely out of thin air! There is not an ounce of factual truth in his character. I felt completely let down and even slightly irritated that the author would deliberately make him up like that!

It is my opinion that if you want to tell a story about a renaissance painter and his sitter that is fine. Go ahead and called them, Giovanni and Leticia or whatever. Then, you are free to let you imagination run wild and create your tale.

Now, if you choose to write about Leonardo da Vinci and Lisa del Giocondo, there are expectations that come with that choice. The writer have to at a minimum *consider* the historic facts about these people. That is what historical fiction genre is all about. Otherwise it is just pure fiction. Sure, one would argue that not a lot is know about Lisa, so there is a lot of room to play. However, enough is known about Leonardo to make this book laughable. Sorry.
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