Dec 26, 11
Read in November, 2007
In her follow-up to 2005's The Borgia Bride, Ms Kalogridis brings to life the woman behind the enigmatic smile of Leonardo da Vinci's most famous painting.
Lisa di Antonio Gheradini is born the daughter of a successful cloth merchant in 15th century Florence, a city dominated by the Medici and rife with dangerous intrigue and treachery since the assassination attempt known as the Pazzi Conspiracy, during which the Medici overlord, Lorenzo Il Magnifico, lost his brother and nearly his own life. Lisa grows into womanhood overshadowed by these traumatic events, which lead to the popular rise of the fanatic monk, Salvonarola, whose rabid crusade against the Medici resulted in a dark period of fear and persecution. Unbeknownst to her, Lisa also carries a secret--one which binds her to the Medici cause and brings her to the attention of Leonardo.
Ms Kalogridis vividly recreates the Pazzi Conspiracy through the eyes of one of its conspirators, and details of life in Renaissance Florence pepper the narrative with realism. Likewise, the Medici's magnetic appeal and passion for power and the arts offer a fascinating contrast to Salvonarola's brimstone condemnation, and the inclusion of a slave in Lisa's household underscores the deep division between social classes, while Lisa's personal trials drive a mystery-laden relationship with the exceptional artist who will eventually paint her into immortality. I, MONA LISA offers readers a well-researched, captivating foray into a turbulent episode in Italian history.