This is what I wrote a week or so ago as I was half way through this story:
The Second Mrs Gioconda by E.L Konigsburg – the jury is out on this one. I bought it because it had to do with art and I thought it may interest our artist, Naomi. But I am not sure – It is an interesting book, would probably be a good read aloud, giving plenty to talk about but I am not convinced it is the best – and I am trying to give the children not only good literature but the best. So we will see.
I finished reading it this morning and these are my thoughts
* I am still not sure I like this book! As you read along it is hard to discern what is fiction and what is researched history. This is always a tricky line with historical fiction. When you read the back cover it is clear that the author’s intent is to write a story that may solve the mystery behind the Mono Lisa but as you read it you have to keep reminding yourself that it is just a story. This, on the one hand, tells how good a story writer EL Konigsburg is, and yet, it makes me hesitant to give historical fiction to my children, if it is going to muddy up the lines of history.
* My second concern is that the main character, one of Leonardo’s apprentices, isn’t a very moral person; he steals, works for his own purposes, underminds Leonardo’s integrity. In one sense these characteristics is why he keeps his position as apprentice. I understand that characters like this exist, that maybe Leonardo deVinci really did have an apprentice like that, I am left wondering if stories with these types of characters are the BEST for my children.
Ultimately the story didn’t really leave me to thinking or pondering anything other than "is this a good book". That in itself should be an indicator. I want books to stir thought, to ignite the imagination and to grip their hearts. This book didn’t really do that for me.