I, Mona Lisa is a wonderful book I had the privilege to read as an ARC last year. This year I’ve taken a leaf out of several other people’s A2Z’s in 2022 to concentrate on the best books I’ve enjoyed–both in the last few years, and in my life.

The plan for the month is to feature daily a book I’ve reviewed in the past (or review it that day), and also highlight others: not all are included each day.

  • review/featured
  • spacetime challenge (I host this reading challenge – you can join here)
  • middle grade (childrens) choice
  • series (love a good series – there’s a challenge for finishing those, too)
  • ‘notable’ reads
  • ‘outstanding’ books
  • my books!

Featured Book: I, Mona Lisa by Natasha Solomons

I Mona Lisa

If you like historical novels, or you like art, you’ll like this. If you just like a really well-written slightly offbeat way of looking at life, you’ll like this too.

Everyone knows the Mona Lisa. You may not realise she’s quite a small painting, hanging in the Louvre in Paris, under considerable security and protective glass. Did you know she once was lost, once hung in a bathroom, and has been stolen several times? And that she’s the wife of a Florentine merchant, Giacond, which is why one of her alternative titles is La Giaconda?

Natasha Solomons reveals meticulous research, lovingly turned into a suspenseful story, of the life of this painting, told by herself. The painting is the narrator. She is wonderful!

If you think your characters have a life of their own, wait till you read the conversations between Leonardo and his painting!

I loved this book, and it was one of my Books of 2022.

Spacetime Challenge

Iron Tactician by Alastair Reynolds: part of a series, but perfectly willing to stand alone (I hadn’t read any others). It’s a gritty space opera with plenty of twists, well worth giving it a go. I may try some of the others in the series, too. The hero is has an interesting background. And Reynolds does time dilation well in his fiction!

Incident on a Small Colony by Kristine Smith: a novella, and a prequel in the Jani Killian Chronicles, which I’m aiming to read this year for my Finishing the Series challenge. ‘A fast and furious novella starring someone who’s on the run and seems to have been surgically enhanced – badly.’

Middle Grade Choice

Ice Whisperers by Helenka Stachera: An interesting take on the magical family/lost tribe type of story, with several thousand years in the losing. I think I also classed it as time travel 🙂 Great if you like arctic wastes, too.

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke: I think the book is an acquired taste, as it’s quite heavy going at times. But if you’ve seen the film you’ll enjoy it more, and it is definitely a book with a unique perspective. I’m not motivated to read the sequels, but a younger person probably would.

Outstanding Book

I, Claudius, by Robert Graves

It’s a long time since I read this book, which was after the original television adaptation was broadcast. Given that this was on a Saturday evening, in black and white, with the usual cardboard sets like early Dr Who with Patrick Troughton, you can imagine… Virtually everyone in the UK watched it. Since it is impossible to read the book without picturing Derek Jacobi as the stuttering Claudius, or John Hurt as the appalling Caligula, it’s probably worth tracking down the series online. Watch out for several stars who turn up as bit part players early in their careers.

The later ‘Rome’ is on a similar line, but really, you can’t beat ‘I, Claudius’. I must read it again.

And I love Carrie Slager’s 2014 review…

I love both Roman history and historical fiction, so when I got the classic I, Claudius for my birthday, I was incredibly excited. But did it live up to all of the hype?

Actually, yes.

Carrie Slager, Goodreads review

Have you got a book starting with I that you’d recommend? Have you read these? Leave a message in the comments – I will get back to you!

I, Mona Lisa | #A2ZChallenge23
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6 thoughts on “I, Mona Lisa | #A2ZChallenge23

  • 11 April, 2023 at 10:06 am

    I remember you telling us about I, Mona Lisa. I said then it interested me and it is on me TBR pile !

    • 11 April, 2023 at 1:57 pm

      I recommend getting it out of the pile as soon as possible, then! Thanks for your dedicated visiting, Willow. I hope you had a lovely Easter weekend.

  • 12 April, 2023 at 1:17 am

    I always pictured the Mona Lisa as a very large painting! I’m surprised to learn its rather small.
    I’ve heard “I Claudius” on the BBC a couple of times. I don’t think I would read it though.

  • 12 April, 2023 at 8:50 am

    Returning to yesterday’s post because I couldn’t comment. Something weird about your site – the comment box had shrunk and lost its post button.

    I remember your review of I, Mona Lisa and it has been on my tbr list ever since. I will get to it! I didn’t care much for Inkheart or the only other Cornelia Funke I have read (can’t remember what it was). And I haven’t read I, Claudius but well remember Derek Jacobi’s performance to the point that i still fin it odd seeing him in anything else.

  • 15 April, 2023 at 2:23 am

    LOVED Inkheart and I, Claudius both. Haven’t read the others. Your reviews were excellent (as always)

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