Sunday, January 29, 2012

Book Review: Chasing Mona Lisa by Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey

Chasing Mona Lisa is a new novel set in the time of the Second World War. It contains interesting history of that period in which the Nazis stole thousands of paintings and other works of art from the countries that they invaded. In order to protect their valuable artwork, the curators of the Louvre packed up many of them and hid them away in chateaux across the country.

An interesting article describes what happened to the Mona Lisa during this time: "On the eve of World War II, curators at the Louvre swathed the museum's most priceless painting — the Mona Lisa— in layers of waterproof paper, boxed it up and spirited it to the French countryside for safekeeping. Leonardo da Vinci's smiling maiden moved another five times during the war before she was brought, safe and sound, back to the Louvre."

The novel picks up in 1942, telling the fictional account of the attempt to steal the Mona Lisa from the chateau where it had been taken. The main characters, Eric Hofstadler and Gabi Mueller, are Swiss citizens who are working as secret agents for the OSS, sent to help the citizens of Paris after the Liberation. They meet Bernard Rousseau, a member of the French Resistance, and Colette Perriard, a curator at the Louvre. After much confusion and danger, together the foursome go to the chateau and recover the Mona Lisa and return it to its rightful place. 
Although that is the basic plot of the book, many other subplots occur and keep Chasing Mona Lisa from becoming stale. On the contrary, this is a fast-paced book which holds the attention of the reader and makes for a very enjoyable read. I didn't want it to end. 
One piece of history that I discovered while reading this book is that much of the artwork "remained sealed in their boxes, but curators worried about the conditions of the Mona Lisa and took the painting out of its box.

'It was stored in a bedroom so that there would always be someone with her," said Fonkenell. "There were people who slept with Mona Lisa in their bedroom.'"

I love to learn history through the reading of fiction! (As long as I know which is which! :))

Authors Goyer and Yorkey are a talented duo. I highly recommend this book.
I give Chasing Mona Lisa 4 1/2 out of 5 stars!
(Available January 2011 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.)


Sherry said...

I have this one on my TBR list already, but I don't know when I'll get to it.

I hope y'all are all well and enjoying the new year.

Kate {The Parchment Girl} said...

I hope I'll get a chance to read this one soon. I LOVED The Swiss Courier and I'm expecting this one to be just as good (if not better)!