Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered (Dianne Hales)

It’s been quite some time since I delved into a book. But, here I am, with approximately two weeks of summer vacation left, gobbling as many books as is Marissa-ly possible (I’m notorious for reading quickly and in long stretches).

18775443I’ve been quite enamored with art ever since studying it a couple years ago, and I suppose that, like many before me, Mona Lisa Gherardini, and her painter, Leonardo, captured me with her smile and his technique. She was quite the topic of discussion in my class, the question being something along the lines of society giving meaning to something that doesn’t really have any meaning.

If you know me, you know that one of my favorite pastimes is pursuing the shelves at bookstores…and then borrowing all the interesting titles from the library. This book was one such title. Luckily for me, my library stocks it!

Hales writes in a style I have never before encountered. Lisa Gherardini was an ordinary Italian lady. She wasn’t famous, but Leonardo made her a celebrity, now. But back then, in Renaissance Florence, she was just another (wealthy) housewife. That being said, there’s not too much that reveals her life, aside from the trove of official documents and good handful of letters Hales uncovers in libraries in Florence.

What Hales does is literally walk in Lisa’s hometown. She gets to know it. Walks the streets Lisa walked. Saw the things Lisa may have seen. Visited the places where Lisa once lived. Essentially, she traces Lisa’s life, and constructs a beautiful picture for the reader of what it would have been like to live in Lisa’s Florence. Obviously, there’s a lot of supposing, but I don’t think it’s wildly inaccurate.

Besides putting an identity to the face, Hales also provides an history lesson on the Gherardini clan and some of Lisa’s contemporaries, in addition to life in Medici Florence. (The Medicis, in my opinion, were brilliant, but also a total train wreck.)

Would definitely recommend!

Happy reading, friends 🙂

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