Book Review of I, Mona Lisa

I, Mona Lisa
reviewed on + 160 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5


I decided to read it for the Historical Fiction Forum's Reading Challenge after seeing it highly recommended by a number of the participants and I'm so glad that I did! I have to say that this is probably one of the best books I've read in a while! It's hard for me to say too much about this book without giving away any surprises (which start pretty early on in the story), but I will give it my best shot. This novel tells the story of Lisa di Antonio Gherardini, the woman who is believed to be the subject of the Mona Lisa. Kalogridis takes historical facts and artfully weaves in fictional elements to fill in gaps about Lisa's life (though many liberties seem to be taken based on some info I looked up after reading the book, but that's ok, it's still a great story). It starts before she was born with a murder that will influence her life later on. The story then fast forwards to Lisa's life as the artistic city of Florence copes with a rising religious figure who despises what he sees as pagan art. This religious fervor takes over the city and leads to the fall of the most power family in the city, the Medici family. What follows next will change Lisa's life forever as she finds herself trapped in a series of events that revolve around her but are out of her control (until she decides to take control for herself that is).

Kalogridis paints beautiful imagery throughout the book and does a great job at giving us characters that we can care about. We feel Lisa's feelings, both happy and sad, and hope for the best for her. The only difficulty with this book is the assortment of Italian names at the beginning, but even that isn't too much of an issue as you get used to it and continue to read. I look forward to looking into more of her work! :-) The pace of this story is pretty quick, so even at 700+ pages, it doesn't really suffer from getting bogged down in itself the way other longer books often do. I highly recommend this to anyone who likes historical fiction, mystery, or is just looking for a good book to get lost in! :-)