Skip to main content

Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered by Dianne Hales: A Book Review

Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered
Author: Dianne Hales
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography, History
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: 2014
Pages: 336
Source: My State Public Library
Synopsis: Everybody knows her smile, but no one knows her story: Meet the woman who became the most recognized artistic subject of all time--Mona Lisa.

     Florence’s Most Famous Daughter is virtually invisible in her own hometown. No plaques commemorate where she lived; no monuments or streets bear her name. Yet a genius immortalized her. A French king paid a fortune for her. An emperor coveted her. Hers was the city that thrills us still, home to larger-than-legend figures such as Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Machiavelli. But all that remains of Lisa is her smile.

     Intrigued by new findings confirming the identity of Leonardo's model, Dianne Hales began a personal quest to unearth the story of Mona Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo. She combed archives for fragile records, walked the squalid street where Lisa was born, explored her neighborhoods, met her descendants, and ventured into many of Florence’s oldest and most beautiful palazzi. The result is a fascinating blend of biography, history, and memoir--a tour of Florence like no other and a journey of discovery that re-creates Lisa’s daily life in a time poised between the medieval and the modern, in a vibrant city bursting into fullest bloom, and in a culture that redefined the possibilities of man--and of woman.

     My review: Mona Lisa’s smile has captured the imaginations of millions of people over the centuries. She is such a part of our everyday popular culture that the woman herself is often forgotten about. This biography is about the life of the model of Mona Lisa, Lisa Gherardini. Her life is just as mysterious as a painting because she is a face without a voice. However, the conclusion is that Mona Lisa is an everyday Renaissance woman who represents a woman of virtue.

     Because there are so very few facts about Lisa Gherardini, the author has taken great challenge to find out about her life. Through her meticulous research to uncover the woman behind the painting, we get a glimpse of who the real Mona Lisa might have been. She was an impoverished aristocrat who married a wealthy man and had six children. Her husband, Francesco del Giocondo commissioned Leonardo to paint her portrait. Lisa is a woman who is virtuous and who raised her children. She is also portrayed as being devoutly religious for she sent her two daughters into a nunnery and chose to be buried in a convent. She is also portrayed as being a survivor of the turbulent times of Florence.

     The author does a great job of describing Florence Renaissance everyday life. She describes the dangerous times in Florence and the power struggle of the Medici family that ruled there. I also found the descriptions of Renaissance art very fascinating. I like Leonardo da Vinci’s rivalry with Michelangelo, for I liked how the two famous artists were jealous of the other. I also liked the part of Leonardo’s work on the Mona Lisa, for even though he procrastinated he was very dedicated to his painting.

      Overall, the Mona Lisa was a symbol of a Renaissance woman’s virtue.  While the author’s writing is very comprehensive, sometimes she tends to jump from subject to subject and is sometimes hard to follow, Many times I would have to go back a few pages and re-read it to understand. However, I think she has a good description of Renaissance Florence. I also like how she describes how Mona Lisa has become a popular icon over the centuries. I recommend this novel to not only anyone interested in the Mona Lisa, but also in travel, art, and the Renaissance. This book is a tribute not only to Lisa Gherardini herself, but also to the women who lived in Florence during the Renaissance.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

This is the author talking about her book, Mona Lisa. In this video there are five facts about the real Mona Lisa that you may not know: 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Seven Sisters (The Seven Sisters #1) by Lucinda Riley: A Book Review

The Seven Sisters (The Seven Sisters #1) Author: Lucinda Riley Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance Publisher: Atria Release Date: 2015 Pages: 463 Source: My State Public Library Synopsis: Maia D’Apliese and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home, “Atlantis”—a fabulous, secluded castle situated on the shores of Lake Geneva—having been told that their beloved father, who adopted them all as babies, has died. Each of them is handed a tantalizing clue to her true heritage—a clue which takes Maia across the world to a crumbling mansion in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Once there, she begins to put together the pieces of her story and its beginnings. Eighty years earlier in Rio’s Belle Epoque of the 1920s, Izabela Bonifacio’s father has aspirations for his daughter to marry into the aristocracy. Meanwhile, architect Heitor da Silva Costa is devising plans for an enormous statue, to be called Christ the Redeemer, and will soon travel to Paris to find the right sculptor to

Blog Tour: Marie Antoinette’s World: Intrigue, Infidelity, And Adultery In Versailles by Will Bashor

Marie Antoinette’s World: Intrigue, Infidelity, And Adultery In Versailles [history/biographical nonfiction] Release date: June 15, 2020 Postponed due to Covid-19: July 30, 2020 at Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Hardcover and ebook, 320 pages Author’s page | Goodreads SYNOPSIS Synopsis: This riveting book explores the little-known intimate life of Marie Antoinette and her milieu in a world filled with intrigue, infidelity, adultery, and sexually transmitted diseases. Will Bashor reveals the intrigue and debauchery of the Bourbon kings from Louis XIII to Louis XV, which were closely intertwined with the expansion of Versailles from a simple hunting lodge to a luxurious and intricately ordered palace. It soon became a retreat for scandalous conspiracies and rendezvous—all hidden from the public eye.       When Marie Antoinette arrived, she was quickly drawn into a true viper’s nest, encouraged by her imprudent entourage. Bashor shows that her often thoughtless, fantas

Blog Tour: Girl With A Gun (Annie Oakley Mysteries #1) by Kari Bovee: A Book Review

  Join us for this tour from Jan 10 to Feb 4 ,  2022 ! Book Details: Book Title : Girl with a Gun (An Annie Oakley Mystery) by Kari Bovee Category :  Adult Fiction (18 + yrs), 316 pages Length : 9 hours, 24 minutes. Genre :  Historical Mystery / Cozy Mystery Publisher :  Bosque Publishing Release date:    April 2020 Content Rating :  PG + M: Mature themes, mild swearing  Source : This audiobook was given to me by iReads Book Tour in exchange for an honest review.   Book Description :      She’s on the rise to fame and fortune, but her sudden notoriety comes with some deadly consequences.      Annie Oakley thrives as a sharpshooter in the Wild West Show. Finally, she has a chance to save her family’s farm—and make her dreams come true.      But her act misfires when she discovers her Indian assistant dead in her tent. Uncovering a shocking secret from her assistant’s past, the girl with the gun believes it’s murder. Determined to find the truth, she ruffles some horse