The Smile by Donna Jo Napoli is a historical fiction novel that takes you back to the Renaissance, a time when art and music played an influential role on Italian society. Napoli paints a vivid picture of what life was like during this era and has incorporated many of Italy’s most famous people such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and the book’s main character Mona Lisa.
Monna Elisabetta, or Mona Lisa, is a young girl who lives in a lovely villa outside Florence, Italy. She is two months away from the most important day of her life, her fifteenth birthday. It is on this day that she will be betrothed. While her parents want nothing more for her than happiness they also want her to be married to one of Florence’s many nobles, in hope that Mona will move further up the social ladder. However, Mona wants more than just a place in society, she wants love. In Donna Jo Napoli’s The Smile, you can follow Mona as she travels through the ups and downs on the rough road of life and also as Mona meets a charming boy, overcomes many tragedies, and prepares for the worst for her country, to go to war with France.
I loved this story mostly because I love historical fiction but also because the plot for this story is so complex and keeps you guessing at the outcome. You automatically get caught up in the book and can even feel for the main character as she goes through the many trials of life. Also, I love how the author can take so many different aspects of Italy’s history and combine it into one terrific story. For example, the author writes of how Leonardo da Vinci meets Mona Lisa and the reason for the painting that is one of the most famous paintings in the world. This book is definitely one of my favorites and I would recommended it to anyone.