Thursday, October 11, 2007

La Gioconda

A few days ago, I finished an excellent book: I, Mona Lisa by Jeanne Kalogridis. It's now on my list of favorites. This author did the Borgia Bride as well which was equally fantastic, though much darker. While that portrayed the Borgias and Pope Alexander VI in an appropriately decrepit manner, the Medicis were treated mildly by Kalogridis. I don't know if this could be thought of as anti-Papist but Kalogridis has a tendency to come down quite hard on the Church. That being said, at this time in history, it is much easier to find fault with the Church than to find true goodness.

Historical characters such as Leondardo da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Lorenzo de' Medici, and the fanatical preacher Savonarola ran rampant thoughout the book. It's absolutely awesome! Kalogridis sticks to historical fact and only embellishes it with a plot centered around the unlikely Lisa di Antonio Gherardini, who eventually married Francesco del Giocondo (an especially yucky dude). This explains why the French call the Mona Lisa, La Gioconda. Even more exciting is that Kalogridis explains why Leonardo's famous painting is so often described as a self portrait.

Truly, this is historical fiction at its best. Fifteenth-century Florence comes alive! The massive dome of the Duomo is its own character and the Ponte Vecchio across the Arno feels the same as it does today. It is too easy to imagine Florence during this time. This is the kind of book that makes you dread the ending because there will be no more to read; it is that exciting!

But all good things must come to an end...

In knitting news, I doubled the length of the Reversible Scarf last night. It's now probably 5 inches long! Wow! (That was said sarcastically.) And there are now 2660 people ahead of me on Ravelry. Getting closer...