As someone who has long been interested in genealogy, I know first-hand how little information is available when researching someone who was relatively unknown. When I picked started reading this book, I couldn’t imagine the author could come up with enough information about the famous sitter in DaVinci’s portrait to make the book interesting. But I was wrong.
It is believed that Mona Lisa is actually Lisa Gherardini (1479-1542), who lived in Florence during the height of the Italian Renaissance. Author Dianne Hales deftly interweaves stories of historical Florentine history with what we do know about Lisa G., her contemporaries, and Leonardo DaVinci. There was plenty here to interest the reader, and I give the author kudos for all her excellent research. My only complaint is the Hales used conjecture quite often, by posing questions meant to make us guess at to what Mona Lisa was thinking or what her personality was like. More often than not, it leads to wishful, rather than historic thinking. Still, I enjoyed the book and learned a little more about history, which is always a plus.
3 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2014
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