Start reading Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here or start reading now with a free Kindle Reading App.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

 
 
 

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered
 
 

Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered [Kindle Edition]

Dianne Hales
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £18.99
Kindle Price: £10.99 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
You Save: £8.00 (42%)
* Unlike print books, digital books are subject to VAT.

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.

Formats

Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition £10.99  
Hardcover £15.90  
Paperback £8.29  
Kindle Daily Deal
Kindle Daily Deal: Up to 70% off
Each day we unveil a new book deal at a specially discounted price--for that day only. Learn more about the Kindle Daily Deal or sign up for the Kindle Daily Deal Newsletter to receive free e-mail notifications about each day's deal.


Product Description

Review

"It's a joy to follow Dianne Hales' fascinating exploration into what's behind the world's most famous smile--an enchanting mix of fascinating history and passion-filled memoir."--Susan Van Allen, author of 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go

Product Description

Everybody knows her smile, but no one knows her story: Meet the flesh-and-blood woman who became one of the most famous artistic subjects of all time—Mona Lisa.

A genius immortalized her. A French king paid a fortune for her. An emperor coveted her. Every year more than 9 million visitors trek to view her portrait in the Louvre.Yet while everyone recognizes her smile, hardly anyone knows her story. Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered, a blend of biography, history, and memoir, truly is a book of discovery—about the world’s most recognized face, most revered artist, and most praised and parodied painting. Who was she, this ordinary woman who rose to such extraordinary fame? Why did the most renowned painter of her time choose her as his model? What became of her? And why does her smile enchant us still?

Lisa Gherardini (1479-1542) was a quintessential woman of her times, caught in a whirl of political upheavals, family dramas, and public scandals. Her life spanned the most tumultuous chapters in the history of Florence—and of the greatest artistic outpouring the world has ever seen. Her story creates an extraordinary tapestry of Renaissance Florence, with larger-than-legend figures such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Machiavelli.

Dianne Hales, author of La Bella Lingua, became obsessed with finding the real Mona Lisa on repeated trips to Florence. In Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered, she takes readers with her to meet Lisa’s descendants; uncover her family’s long and colorful history; and explore the neighborhoods where she lived as a girl, a wife, and a mother. In the process, we can participate in Lisa’s daily rituals; understand her personal relationships; and see, hear, smell, and taste “her” Florence. Hales brings to life a time poised between the medieval and the modern, a vibrant city bursting into fullest bloom, and a culture that redefined the possibilities of man—and of woman.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 6591 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (5 Aug 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HB604SY
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #231,394 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?


More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, and more.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


Customer Reviews

4 star
0
3 star
0
2 star
0
3.7 out of 5 stars
3.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful account of a mysterious icon 27 Aug 2014
Format:Hardcover
The sheer amount of research and man (well in this case woman) hours that went into this flawless book is deserving of five stars. Dianne Hales is a passionate researcher, this much is clear, but she is also a gifted writer. Where many non-fiction books tend to be dry and somewhat acerbic in their approach to delivering information, this author uses her talent as a story teller to make you see and feel what you are reading. The descriptions in this book are incredible.

Rather than sitting in the national archives of Italy for the entire duration of research needed to compile the factual backbone of this book, Dianne Hales went and lived the life (or as close to the life) of Lisa Gherardini as she could. She walked the same streets, saw similar sights and pieced together the missing parts of a life that has been so important to so many but never fully appreciated until now.

This book offers amazing insight into the life of a woman that we all recognise but most of us know little to nothing about. The author also carefully constructed the timeline of Da Vinci and offered a thorough historical background on the history of the Gherardini family tree. While there are still mysteries that remain, this book offers a rather comprehensive look at Florentine life many years ago.

The way this book is organised offers the reader a step-by-step journey into the past, progressively moving forward to the actual painting of the subject at the core of this writing. The author was careful to remain impartial and use the evidence she compiled to support her work, rather than letting this run wild with opinion.

I was greatly impressed with this book and think scholars of the age as well as anyone interested in art history will gain from reading this.

Excellent book, written with passion and intensity.

This review is based on a complimentary copy from Netgalley and the Publisher. All opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful to you?
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars How NOT to write about painting. 17 Aug 2014
Format:Hardcover
I admit it, I think that this is the most overrated painting in the history of art and this book is exemplary of How Not to Do It. There is some decent archive delving herein, credit where it is due, but this book purports to tell us 'the secret' of La Gioconda. I expected something about her personality, some thing about her character. There's a promise here, of 'discovery'...I took it that something of her person might waft across the ages since, of course, the Most Famous Painting must have at its centre one interesting chick, right? Well in fact, Hales knows almost nothing but a few bare facts, the rest is...silence? Well no, you can hear the sound of a barrel being scraped when, finally, we enter the Holy of Holies, IT, and 'discover', what? Well, that the Mona Lisa is 'us', that 'we' are fascinated (?) by it giving us back our mysterious selves; it is (Oh no!) a Rorschach blot of a painting, 'reading' us even as we read it. It is as if a terrible, childish PoMo-critic-meets-Barbara Cartland. It goes without question that La Gioconda is seen as the greatest painting ever, [childish epithets anyway. For what it is worth I think Velazquez's 'Innocent X', Holbein's portraits of Henry 8th's court and Rembrandt's self portraits far superior]. But are 'we' now so self-obsessed, so 'celebrity' minded that deep thrills such as this portrait apparently gives must be so 'democratically' accounted? Is art history now a sort of aesthetic populism? I think not. But if you like this sort of guff, if you like this slightly drab painting, well fill yer boots. Purple-prosed cobblers. I was cross by the end, so little did it say and that very badly; the finale is embarrassingly vacuous, sentimental trash. Bah, humbug.
Was this review helpful to you?
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The lives behind the face... 18 Aug 2014
By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Author Dianne Hales's "Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered" is an excellent story of painter and subject; of a canvas and the world in which it was painted. It is Florence in the late 1400's/early 1500's, the ultimate "Renaissance Man" Leonardo Da Vinci, and, Mona Lisa Gherardini del Gioconda.

Dianne Hales has tracked down and written about the real Mona Lisa. The records of her existence are available in files and books in Florence and Hales has put them together in a book. Part of the book is factual - dates and marriage and children - but some is conjecture about Lisa Gheraradini's thoughts and actions. Hales couches her wording, using terms like "could have" and "might have", which softens the conjecture for the reader. She has learned enough about Lisa - her family, both birth and marital - and combining that with information about Florentine history - both social and governmental - gives the reader an encompassing view of the woman and her world.

But Dianne Hales also looks at both the painter, Leonardo, and his life, as well as the long life of the canvas. From Leonardo's possession to that of French royalty, to finally life in the Louvre, the "Mona Lisa" has been in French hands since the early 1500s. Except, of course, for life on-the-run as a kidnap victim in 1911: the painting was returned to the museum in 1913.

Dianne Hales' book reveals the woman behind the face in the painting. It's a marvelously readable book. And if you like reading about paintings and their subjects, pick up Carola Hick's "Girl in a Green Gown: The History and Mystery of the Arnolfini Portrait".
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  33 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this book! 5 Aug 2014
By Shopoholic - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
What an amazing book! For anyone who loves Italy, Florence, art history, Da Vinci or the Renaissance, this is a book for you. Dianne Hales discovered Mona Lisa, the real woman behind the most famous painting in the world, while on a trip in Italy. She discovered her name, but was astounded at how little else remained of her story. So, she embarked on a journey to truly discover this woman, who she was, what her life was like. Reading this book, you are transferred to Italy, 500 years ago to today and taken on a ride through past and present. I wasn't able to the book down and I am sure you won't be able to either. Florence will never look the same for me after traveling down it's ancient streets with Dianne. An excellent read!
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I thoroughly enjoyed reading Mona Lisa a Life Discovered! 6 Aug 2014
By Italia Melissa - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
For me reading Dianne’s new book about the Mona Lisa was pure pleasure. It is a fully satisfying read and one I couldn't put down! Her unabashed curiosity to know the real woman,"la vera donna" behind the myth and the enigmatic smile, compels the reader to follow her on a fascinating historical tour of medieval and Renaissance Tuscany & Florence and beyond! Through her pages we rub shoulders with the Guelphs & the Ghibellines, as well as with the powerful Medici bankers and other significant players on the Florentine stage during the late 1400s; we walk together through the alleyways and streets, visiting palazzi, churches and public buildings that would have been the back drop for all these colorful characters. Of course we also follow the ascent of a young Leonardo and are rewarded with a glimpse into his his life during a time when life was changing so rapidly with new ideas, discoveries, wealth and power. Dianne also introduces us to Lisa’s rebellious and spirited ancestors, like the treasonous Pelliccia Gherardini and the feisty Margherita Datini, as well as her descendants, the Strozzi princesses. But, most importantly, through the pages of Dianne’s book we are given insight into who the real Lisa Gherardini might have been; we come to know the woman, the wife and the mother who lived for 63 years. We get a glimpse of the woman whose face is so famous, and yet to this day has remained “voiceless”. Brava!
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last, the real Mona Lisa. 14 Aug 2014
By Sal Prisco - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Dianne Hales brings Mona Lisa to life in a new study of her life and times.
This book is a triumph of research that should put to rest many of the
absurd theories of her life and the motivation of Da Vinci in painting
her. The reader may well experience both tears and smiles in finally
getting to know something concrete about one of the most
recognizable icons in human history. Brava Dianne!

Salvatore Prisco, Ph.D.
Prof. of History,
Stevens Institute of Technology
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Renaissance Time Machine 16 Sep 2014
By Alfred Valentini - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I recently had the chance to hear and meet author Dianne Hales at the Istituto Italiano di Cultura in NYC for the presentation of her latest book, MONA LISA A Life Discovered. I have been a fan of Dianne for a few years and have promoted her previous book, La Bella Lingua to anyone interested in getting to know the Italian language and culture. Having read her recent work and listened to her lively presentation, I can tell you that this second book is a different kind of experience.
Picture yourself stepping into a time machine that transports you back to Renaissance Florence. Dianne doesn't merely define who the subject of Leonardo's celebrated portrait was; she recreates the world in which the wife of Francesco del Giocondo lived. Through exhaustive research and countless interviews of experts we learn of her genealogy, her station in society, her home life, her possible brushes with the illuminati of her era, and ultimately, how she chose to live her last years.
Lisa Gherardini didn't leave diaries or a paper trail of her life. The author must therefore conjecture the daily routine of a life lived so long ago. But what an age she lived in! Florence was home to a constellation of artist, great thinkers, powerbrokers, princes of the church, extravagantly wealthy merchants and entrepreneurs. And much of the drama they lived played out in the very streets that "La Gioconda" probably traversed.
Along the way the reader learns fascinating bits of information about Lisa, her family, her times and the painting of her that would become one of the most celebrated works of art. Find out how John Kennedy may have a blood connection to her. Learn about the typical love life of a Renaissance woman. Come to understand how and why the great Medici clan came in and out of power over the centuries. Be surprised by some of the unlikely places in which the portrait has been displayed. Read about the whereabouts of her mortal remains, why they are there and the conditions under which they have fallen.
It's a great read. You will enjoy MONA LISA A Life Discovered.
A. J. Valentini
Adjunct Prof. Of Italian
Utica College
Direcor of IACE Summer Program
- 9/15/14
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The lives behind the face... 18 Aug 2014
By Jill Meyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Author Dianne Hales's "Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered" is an excellent story of painter and subject; of a canvas and the world in which it was painted. It is Florence in the late 1400's/early 1500's, the ultimate "Renaissance Man" Leonardo Da Vinci, and, Mona Lisa Gherardini del Gioconda.

Dianne Hales has tracked down and written about the real Mona Lisa. The records of her existence are available in files and books in Florence and Hales has put them together in a book. Part of the book is factual - dates and marriage and children - but some is conjecture about Lisa Gheraradini's thoughts and actions. Hales couches her wording, using terms like "could have" and "might have", which softens the conjecture for the reader. She has learned enough about Lisa - her family, both birth and marital - and combining that with information about Florentine history - both social and governmental - gives the reader an encompassing view of the woman and her world.

But Dianne Hales also looks at both the painter, Leonardo, and his life, as well as the long life of the canvas. From Leonardo's possession to that of French royalty, to finally life in the Louvre, the "Mona Lisa" has been in French hands since the early 1500s. Except, of course, for life on-the-run as a kidnap victim in 1911; the painting was returned to the museum in 1913, only leaving it again under careful chaperonage.

Dianne Hales' book reveals the woman behind the face in the painting. It's a marvelously readable book. And if you like reading about paintings and their subjects, pick up Carola Hick's "Girl in a Green Gown: The History and Mystery of the Arnolfini Portrait".
Were these reviews helpful?   Let us know
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Customer Discussions

This product's forum
Discussion Replies Latest Post
No discussions yet

Ask questions, Share opinions, Gain insight
Start a new discussion
Topic:
First post:
Prompts for sign-in
 

Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions
   


Look for similar items by category