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Saturday, July 18, 2009

The Smile by Donna Jo Napoli

Title: The Smile
Author: Donna Jo Napoli
ISBN: 9780525479994
Publisher: Dutton Children's Books

"Hers is the most famous portrait in the world. Who was she? Who was the person behind the smile?

She is called Lisa, short for Elisabetta. When Elisabetta is fifteen, she will be betrothed to one of the nobles of Florence. Hopefully he will not be too old, or too mean, or too ugly. She longs for romance, to marry for love, but she knows that this is not the fate for most girls like her.

Even though she does not think she is beautiful, Elisabetta catches the eye of her father's famous friend, the great Leonardo da Vinci, who insists he will one day paint her portrait. It is Leonardo who introduces Monna Elisabetta to Giuliano de' Medici. He is the heir to the most powerful and wealthy family in Florence. He is young and fair and swears his love to the girl he calls Monna Lisa. But Florence is changing, and as Elisabetta soon finds out, it is a dangerous time to love a Medici. Again, her fate is not within her control."

I was actually a bit surprised by this book - it went in a totally different direction than I thought it was going to. There was more emphasis on her life before being painted and her time with da Vinci than it did. Once I got into the story, I did enjoy it. It just didn't go the way I thought it was going to.

After reading the book, I've decided that's not a complaint. It was very interesting to think about what the woman was like up until the time of her portrait being done. I don't know how realistic the view of her life is, but it's very interesting. I also enjoyed a bit of the social commentary throughout the book - mostly because this is a part of history I'm not overly familiar with.

As historical fiction, I definitely enjoyed it. I've read a couple other things by this author and have always loved them. I'd absolutely recommend any of her books to any age teen. They're all great historical books - especially if ya need one to read for school.

Other blog reviews:
The Slant Reviews
Sarah Miller: Reading, Writing, Musing...
Mouth Shut Reviews

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