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I, Mona Lisa Paperback – Bargain Price, October 31, 2006

88 customer reviews

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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.)
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"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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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: 5.5 x 1.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,039,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 51 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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By T. Holmes on June 16, 2007
Format: Paperback
I really liked this book, I thought it was very entertaining and a fast read even though it was 515 pages. The story was good enough for the pages to just fly by. I have to admit being a guy though, I think women will definitely enjoy this book more than men. To me I would describe this book as one in which women would enjoy reading and including in their book clubs. I enjoy historical fiction and having been to Paris and seen the Mona Lisa, I thought this would be an interesting read. I was right, it certainly was.

This book gave the reader a pretty good idea what it would have been like to be a well-born upper class woman living in Florence during the 15th-century. I felt the author did a great job researching this era in history. The historical facts she presented in the story flowed well, made sense and enhanced the story.

Why did I only give this book four stars? Yes, there were really suspenseful moments the book where I couldn't wait to turn the page, but when I finished the book I just didn't have that "Wow...that was a great book!" type of feeling that I have had with other books. Secondly for some reason I thought all along Mona Lisa and Leonardo Da Vinci were being forced into the story rather than the story surrounding them. To me that made the characters less believable. Mona Lisa and Leonardo just weren't that believable to me. But the plot inself was great! I hope that makes sense.

The last thing I want to say is very important if you are thinking of buying and reading this book: DO NOT READ THE BACK OF THE COVER. This was another reason I only gave it four stars. If you read it you will lose a lot of suspense because it gives away a major event in the book. This was a big-time mistake that took a lot of suspense away from the book.
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