Emily Ann Meyer's Reviews > I, Mona Lisa

I, Mona Lisa by Jeanne Kalogridis
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's review
Jan 04, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction, 2008

I'm thinking I'll have to add Jean Kalogridis to the list of historical fiction authors that I really, really like.

My favorite from her remains The Burning Times, but this did not disappoint.

I am substantially less familiar with Renaissance Italy than I am with Tudor England. However, the Medicis and the Borgias are really beginning to beg further study. This particular novel dealt with (obviously) Mona Lisa and then as a backstory to her personal history the Medici family and the priest Savanorela. As a side note, it truly makes me cringe every time I think of what was destroyed during Savanorela's time - as well as grateful for how much was saved.

As with most historical fictions, this one leaves me curious as to how much as fact, how much is fiction, and how much is speculation. Having now gone and read the wikipedia article on the titular character, I'm almost disappointed by how much was a fictionalization.

At the same time, however, little is known about the woman behind the painting, so it's nice to think that some of what was in the novel could've happened.

That said, the Lisa in the novel was a strong character, and an independent one, and as much as I love strong, independent female heroines, I have to acknowledge that such a woman in Renaissance Italy would've been an anachronism - so just as well that fact is left to the biographies and fiction left to novels such as this.

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