Monday 26 July 2010

Review: Painting Mona Lisa - Jeanne Kalogridis

Also published as: I, Mona Lisa

Genre: Historical fiction
Pages: 526
Published. 2006

My name is Lisa di Antonio Gherardini Giocondo, though to acquaintances, I am known simply as Madonna Lisa. My story begins not with my birth but a murder, committed the year before I was born…”

Florence, April 1478: The handsome Giuliano de’ Medici is brutally assassinated in Florence’s magnificent Duomo. The shock of the murder ripples throughout the great city, from the most renowned artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, to a wealthy wool merchant and his extraordinarily beautiful daughter, Madonna Lisa. More than a decade later, Florence falls under the dark spell of the preacher Savonarola, a fanatic who burns paintings and books as easily as he sends men to their deaths. Lisa, now grown into an alluring woman, captures the heart of Giuliano’s nephew and namesake. But when Guiliano, her love, meets a tragic end, Lisa must gather all her courage and cunning to untangle a sinister web of illicit love, treachery, and dangerous secrets that threatens her life. 

I picked up this book thinking to learn something more, and then I googled after having read for a little while and realized the story is total fiction. The people existed but she has re-invented history and put together this fictional story.

Young Lisa grows up in Florence where de Medici rule. Her father is a wool merchant and her mother is sickly. The de Medici family rules everyhting, even marriages and she is sent to be inspected so they can find her a husband. But she meets Giuliano de Medici and falls in love, when 12 or 13. But a preacher is preaching about hell fire and soon all of Florence will be turned into darkness. But Lisa has her love, and friendship in a painter known as da Vinci. She also has a thirst for revenge.

Yes, my biggest concern is how historically incorrect this book was. I mean she did a great job, really followed what happened but then she made some people disappear and re-shaped Lisa's life. It makes a good story but I would rather have seen more accuracy. I never really got the love story either, they met briefly, she gets a letter and then she is suddenly in love. Must I preach about lust again. I just never felt it. Later yes, but not then.

But I did enjoy Florence, how the de Medici worked, the city and later Savonarola. He was one scary guy and Florence really turned into a hell hole after he has preached for a while. No one was safe, well perhaps except for the pious sad ones. It was certainly an interesting time.

In the end an ok book, I guess I might have liked it better before I went to google.

Blodeuedd's Cover Corner: lovely
Reason for reading: Library loot, yes my final one! Last review up tomorrow
Final thoughts; Ok.


  1. The only straight historical fiction book I've read is THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL. AND I read it before it way before it became a movie. ;)

    Great review Blodeuedd! I can definitely understand how disappearing people and a re-shaped life could be frustrating. Especially for this genre.

  2. I keep hearing about the de Medici family and I definitely think I need to read more about them. It is a shame it wasn't historically correct though.

  3. It does suck that Kalogridis's books are not very historically accurate, but for their literary qualities they are still worth reading.

  4. VFG
    I haven't read that book yet, or seen the movie, but I was planning to read the book before.
    It was, cos it made me wanna learn more only to see that nothing was what it seemed it be

    They were a fun bunch *coughs* just like those Borgia's and I'd sure like to read more about them

    At least now I know they wont be right and could enjoy the story as it should be

  5. Oh, I bet that was maddening!

  6. Oh, I get annoyed when I find out a book isn't based in any fact, too, after I already feel invested in the story. That would annoy me!

  7. historically incorrect..

    One of the reason I stopped reading historicals.. but if other things worked well or even enough to hold your interest then all is not lost...

    Great round up...


  8. Chris
    *sniff* It sure was, made me sad too

    I just love history too much, I want things to be as they should be, or at least try to be. One never knows with history but here things were just too fictitious

  9. EH
    It was the time, the struggles and the de medici's that kept my interest going, and Lisa was nice but I have read better

  10. I read this book last year and I completely agree with you, it would have been a better book if it was more historically accurate. I googled info too, and that ruined the book for me.;) Also yes, their love at first was more like lust than love.
    Cool review!

  11. Ow, I don't like re-invented history in novels! That's so confusing.

  12. I don't often google to find out if things are true. It would probably ruin a lot of books for me. This one does sound good though - I've heard a lot about this author but I haven't read any of her books as of yet.

  13. Sometimes that's my problem with historical fiction, trying to figure out what bits are true and what aren't.

  14. Sorry this did not live up to your expectations. I undcerstand not liking the "I got a letter and now I'm in love!" That kind of stuff works my nerves. Oh well, at least the cover is pretty :)

  15. Ireana
    Glad to find some that feels the same, cos I liked the story, but then when I knew it was wrong, not so much.
    Lol, yes lust, kiddie lust.

    I know, it was, not to my liking in the end

    It was ok, and I just love to google cos I am terrible like that. Spoiling the ending, of course not here when she made her own history

    Just love history too much :)

  16. Jenny
    It's real pretty and when you look close it looks like a real painting where the paint has cracked

  17. I hate it when that happens. When I'm really looking forward to a book I try to avoid all reviews (especially amazon) because inevitably someone will point out flaws that I probably wouldn't have noticed otherwise.

    I do prefer historically accurate fiction though.

  18. Well, there's a lesson, don't go to GOOGLE lol

    You make me want to read this, even if it isn't historically acurate.

    Thanks :)

  19. I absolutely adored The Borgia Bride, so when I read this one and wasn't as enamoured of it, I was a bit disappointed.

  20. Alyce
    I kind of go all for it, I want to know about flaws and great things, so I can make up my own mind later. With this one I knew nothing

    Google is evil, lol.
    But glad that you still wanna read it, cos it was a great made-up story

    Interesting, perhaps I should read the Borgia Bride then. Because if not counting the flaws this one was still only ok for me

  21. Note to self: google afterwards!!! Still sounds like a good story though.



Copyright © 2008-2020 Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell All Rights Reserved. Proudly powered by Blogger

  © Blogger template Starry by 2008 Modified by Lea

Back to TOP