Title: I, Mona Lisa
Author: Natasha Solomons
Published: 1 March 2022
As you might imagine, this book centres around the Mona Lisa, but possibly not in the way you would quite expect. The main character, the Mona Lisa (of course!), is not a person, but the painting herself. In this story the Mona Lisa has had life breathed into her by the masterful brush strokes of Leonardo da Vinci. This book delivers an insight into the world from the perspective of the Mona Lisa, the painting.
I found the story engaging – I have certainly never read a book from the view of a painting before! I loved the way in which the characters were portrayed, but particularly the relationship between Leonardo and Mona Lisa. In this story Mona Lisa can talk to Leonardo, and also to other brilliant artists, but to most people she is only a beautiful painting. She has a great personality – I admired her moxi!
An interesting concept was that the Mona Lisa fell in love with Leonardo, and felt that she belonged to him. And, once he has passed away, she lost her humanness – she was reduced to being a valuable commodity. After that her life was mostly consumed by watching people, without having any meaningful relationships, as she once had.
I really enjoyed an insight into the era of how artists lived and worked at the time the Mona Lisa came into existence. The rivalry between artists, and the influence of patrons and muses was well described. The subsequent history of the various locations where the Mona Lisa had been displayed, and hidden (during WWWII) and of course, the story of her being stolen, carried the Mona Lisa into the present day.
Beautifully written, and completely unique. I very much enjoyed this read.