Author: Jonathan Santlofer
Published by: Sourcebooks Landmark on Aug. 17, 2021
Genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Source: Sourcebooks Landmark
Book Rating: 9/10
August, 1911: The Mona Lisa is stolen by Vincent Peruggia. Exactly what happens in the two years before its recovery is a mystery. Many replicas of the Mona Lisa exist, and more than one historian has wondered if the painting now in the Louvre is a fake, switched in 1911.
Present day: art professor Luke Perrone digs for the truth behind his most famous ancestor: Peruggia. His search attracts an Interpol detective with something to prove and an unfamiliar but curiously helpful woman. Soon, Luke tumbles deep into the world of art and forgery, a land of obsession and danger.
A gripping novel exploring the 1911 theft and the present underbelly of the art world, The Last Mona Lisa is a suspenseful tale, tapping into our universal fascination with da Vinci’s enigma, why people are driven to possess certain works of art, and our fascination with the authentic and the fake.
Rich, absorbing, and remarkably atmospheric!
The Last Mona Lisa is an alluring, fascinating tale predominantly set in Paris during 1911, as well as present-day Florence, that takes us into the lives of Vincent Peruggia, a young man who, after losing his wife suddenly to illness, will do whatever it takes to earn enough money to be reunited with his son, as well as his great-grandson Luke Perrone, an art historian who is consumed with all things Mona Lisa who heads to Italy to find his great grandfather’s long-lost journal to discover once and for all why he stole the painting, where it was kept for the two years before it was returned, and ultimately, before everyone who knows about the journal, including himself, ends up dead, finally discover whether the original or merely a fake is now actually hanging in the infamous museum.
The writing is polished and descriptive. The characters are flawed, vulnerable, and driven. And the plot, alternating between timelines, unravels and intertwines quickly into an ominous tale of life, loss, family, self-discovery, secrets, lies, deception, greed, friendship, heartbreak, addiction, obsession, murder, as well as the beautiful, intricate details involved in creating, forging, and restoring artwork.
Overall, The Last Mona Lisa is an evocative, immersive, thrilling novel by Santlofer that’s not only a love letter to Renaissance art and the cities of Florence and Paris but a suspenseful tale steeped in historical fact and compelling fiction that I absolutely devoured and highly recommend.
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Thank you to Sourcebooks Landmark for providing me with a copy in an exchange for an honest review.