The Mona Lisa Speaks
By: Christopher Angel
Format/Source: Paperback courtesy of the author as part of The Mona Lisa Speaks Book Tour
Brilliant and confident Robertson Ross, an outdoorsy Canadian computer expert hired to update the Louvre’s security system, falls in love with Mathilde, a classic beauty and cultured Parisian art dealer. But, when he discovers that she’s deeply in debt to Jacques Renard, a powerful and dangerous lord of the French criminal underground, he has to embark on the risky and thrilling theft of the Mona Lisa to save her – and their unborn child.
Rob’s biggest problems actually begin after he successfully steals the Mona Lisa and replaces her with a perfect copy. Facing betrayals and double-crosses at all turns, he needs every bit of his intelligence, cunning, courage, and computer skills to stay alive and reunite with his true love. This is a story of thrills, danger, and a Canadian from the frozen North falling in love with Paris.
The premise of this novel caught my attention–art, Paris, a caper with high stakes. Oh, and the main character’s Canadian (it’s always nice to see more Canadian characters in fiction). Strangely enough, despite having been to Paris, I actually didn’t get a chance to go to the Louvre and see the Mona Lisa for myself (should’ve read in advance that the museum was closed on Mondays). Nonetheless I thought it was interesting that this novel featured the museum quite prominently.
This book is part of the Books on France Reading Challenge 2013 that I am participating in.
The Mona Lisa Speaks is a pretty fast-paced story. It started off relatively slow, introducing the characters and setting up the main premise of the plot but once all of the pieces were in place, the novel just grabs hold of the reader takes him or her along for the ride without hitting the breaks once. The stakes become higher and higher as events build up and small thefts snowball into larger thefts.
Rob is a smart and interesting main character; I actually chuckled somewhere halfway through the novel because he actually raised a question that I was asking myself about the motives of one particular character (sadly I don’t remember it off the top of my head)–a typical film or novel of this genre or style wouldn’t have entertained the idea at all but Rob did. Rob is also quite a lead; he doesn’t crack even as the stakes become too high and it seems like there’s no good way–or any way–out. At the same time, I felt he was a little too cool under pressure; I would’ve like to have seen him work through the psychological pressure he was under, convey a bit more of that natural human reaction to the situation he was faced with.
I love how Paris was used throughout the novel. The narrative goes pretty in-depth, using familiar tourist spots like the Louvre and the bridges and streets close to other monuments like the Notre Dame but also the quieter, everyday residential neighbourhoods. I was quite in awe with the location of Rob’s apartment; it was in quite a convenient location and very close to all the wonderful places the city has.
I wish there had been more scenes featuring the Mona Lisa. I was pleasantly surprised to read that she had her own chapters in the novel with her perspective on what’s going on around her and what it’s like to be her. She was quite a feisty character, I enjoyed her excerpts amidst all of the tension and the action.
Overall, I enjoyed reading The Mona Lisa Speaks, it’s high on the adrenaline and quite the page turner. I recommend this novel if you’re into action/suspense novels and enjoy reading stories set in Paris. This novel definitely uses the features of the city quite nicely and in a very interesting way that it really plays a role in the story.
You can pick up a copy of the novel through Amazon.com
ABOUT CHRISTOPHER ANGEL
Emmy nominee Christopher Angel was inspired to write The Mona Lisa Speaks, his first novel, during a visit to the Louvre, where he dared ask, “Why is the Mona Lisa so famous?” The answer, in part, surprised him: few know that the Mona Lisa was stolen in 1911, and went missing for two years. Wondering what happened in those intervening two years launched his own fictional update of the story.
A professional film-maker, Christopher’s most recent movie as a writer/director is This Is Not A Test – a satire about domestic terrorism that aired on Showtime. He was nominated for an Emmy for his work on James Cameron’s documentary, Expedition Bismarck, and won a student Academy Award for his short film, Mr. October. Christopher received his B.A. from Yale University, where he was a Humanities major, and an MFA in film-making from the University of Southern California.
Many thanks to France Book Tours for hosting this book and for letting me read this book.