"I’m enthralled by every page of Dianne Hales’s Mona Lisa. The mysteries of the painting remain, but through Hales’s portraits of the people and her skilled rendering of customs, politics, and daily habits of the time, you come to know the painting in profound new ways. The great pleasure of her prose brings Lisa Gheradini’s world to vivid life. Anyone who loves art and Italy—and who doesn’t—will adore this book.
– Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun and Under Magnolia
"This is cultural history that reads like a detective novel as Dianne Hales tracks down the real woman behind one of the world’s most famous and enigmatic faces. Expertly sleuthing her way through the treasure troves of archives and palazzos, she offers her own fascinating portrait not just of Lisa Gherardini but also of the vibrant Renaissance world that nurtured both Lisa and Leonardo’s painting."
– Ross King, author of Brunelleschi's Dome and Leonardo and The Last Supper
"Biography, history, and memoir are woven together in Hales' lyrical biography of Lisa Gherardini...her quest endows human subjectivity to one of art history's greatest icons."
"Engaging...a rich tapestry of family life, mercantile society, politics, and artistic development...enthralling."
"Veteran journalist Dianne Hales shares with us the tumultuous lives of both Gherardini and the artist who immortalized her, and brings us along on the travels of a work of art for which love and esteem have increased markedly over the centuries."
– New York Post
“A readable and affectionate my-search-for-story for art lovers and anyone interested in glorious and gory Florence in the 15th- to 16th centuries, and in the divine Leonardo in particular…Hales' assiduous research has made it possible for us to know Mona Lisa just a bit, enough to wonder if this otherwise ordinary Florentine housewife could ever have imagined her portrait enchanting millions for centuries.”
“Now, thanks to meticulous research, Hales’ biography-memoir-history lesson brings to life Lisa Gherardini (1479-1542), the unforgettable face behind Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.”
– Fort Worth Star-Telegram
"Combining history, whimsical biography, personal travelogue, and love letter to Italy...an accessible, vivid examination of women's lives in Florence of the period....Entertaining."
– Publishers Weekly
"It's a joy to follow Dianne Hales' fascinating exploration into what's behind the world's most famous smile—an enchanting mix of fascinating history and passion-filled memoir."
– Susan Van Allen, author of 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go