The Stolen Lady: A Novel of World War II and the Mona Lisa

· Sold by HarperCollins
8 reviews

About this ebook

From the acclaimed author of The Night Portrait comes a stunning historical novel about two women, separated by five hundred years, who each hide Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa—with unintended consequences.

France, 1939

At the dawn of World War II, Anne Guichard, a young archivist employed at the Louvre, arrives home to find her brother missing. While she works to discover his whereabouts, refugees begin flooding into Paris and German artillery fire rattles the city. Once they reach the city, the Nazis will stop at nothing to get their hands on the Louvre’s art collection. Anne is quickly sent to the Castle of Chambord, where the Louvre’s most precious artworks—including the Mona Lisa—are being transferred to ensure their safety. With the Germans hard on their heels, Anne frantically moves the Mona Lisa and other treasures again and again in an elaborate game of hide and seek. As the threat to the masterpieces and her life grows closer, Anne also begins to learn the truth about her brother and the role he plays in this dangerous game.

Florence, 1479

House servant Bellina Sardi’s future seems fixed when she accompanies her newly married mistress, Lisa Gherardini, to her home across the Arno. Lisa’s husband, a prosperous silk merchant, is aligned with the powerful Medici, his home filled with luxuries and treasures. But soon, Bellina finds herself bewitched by a charismatic monk who has urged Florentines to rise up against the Medici and to empty their homes of the riches and jewels her new employer prizes. When Master Leonardo da Vinci is commissioned to paint a portrait of Lisa, Bellina finds herself tasked with hiding an impossible secret.

When art and war collide, Leonardo da Vinci, his beautiful subject Lisa, and the portrait find themselves in the crosshairs of history. 

8 reviews
Toby A. Smith
January 22, 2022
I was SO excited to get find this book, expecting it would be a slam dunk - because I love reading about both the Renaissance and World War II. But, I was disappointed. Maybe 3.5 stars is more accurate than 3 - but I was hoping for so much more. This story is told by three people: 1. Anne Guichard - a young archivist working at the Louvre, on the brink of and throughout World War II. 2. Bellina Sardi - a servant who helps raise her employer's daughter, Elizabeth ("Lisa") Gherardini-- the girl who grows up to be the woman immortalized in the famous Mona Lisa painting. 3. Leonardo da Vinci - a struggling artist of the Italian Renaissance who moves from one city in Italy to another, taking on assorted commissions, many of which he has trouble completing. The focus of the historical novel is the painting of the Mona Lisa. How it came to be when Lisa's prosperous husband commissioned a portrait of his wife, how the painting traveled around until it wound up in France, and about the risks taken by Louvre staff to protect it (and other great pieces of art) from Nazi looting. So much drama inherent in these stories, right? But somehow, the book felt at least 100 pages too long. While Laura Morelli switched back and forth in time, I found the chapters related to World War II much more compelling. Hiding great art during war time involved much more effort and danger than I imagined and the narrative grew increasingly tense. But many of the Renaissance chapters seemed to drag. It's not that I wasn't interested in Leonardo's or Bellina's stories. I was! They just seemed to unfold VERY slowly. And I found I was NOT rushing to return to this novel, despite my interest in the subject matter. I still recommend it. Mostly for the fascinating story of the brave people who risked so much to protect so many art treasures during World War II.
Did you find this helpful?
Janice Tangen
August 28, 2021
THE MONA LISA IS THREATENED! art-theft, artist, art-history, Italy, France, dual-time-frames, historical-novel, historical-figures, historical-places-events, historical-research, history-and-culture***** Impressive storytelling backed by solid research. This entwined presentation involves a Louvre employee during the occupation of France tasked as a member of a team to thwart the German accession of fine art, a woman who becomes a servant to a wealthy family at a young age in the time of the famous Leonardo painting, and Leonardo himself. The story is actually riveting as I wanted to find out multiple things about each of the protagonists. No spoilers here, just READ IT! I requested and received a free temporary ebook copy from William Morrow and Custom House via NetGalley. Thank you!
62 people found this review helpful
Did you find this helpful?
A Google user

About the author

Laura Morelli holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University and is an award-winning, USA Today bestselling historical novelist. Laura has taught college students in the U.S. and in Italy. She has covered art and authentic travel for TED-Ed, National Geographic Traveler, Italy Magazine, CNN Radio, and other media. Laura is the author of the popular Authentic Arts guidebook series that includes Made in Italy. Her historical novels, including The Night Portrait and The Gondola Maker, bring the stories of art history to life.

Rate this book

Tell us what you think.

Reading information

Smartphones and tablets
Install the Google Play Books app for Android and iPad/iPhone. It syncs automatically with your account and allows you to read online or offline wherever you are.
Laptops and computers
You can listen to audiobooks purchased on Google Play using your computer's web browser.
eReaders and other devices
To read on e-ink devices like Kobo eReaders, you'll need to download a file and transfer it to your device. Follow the detailed Help Center instructions to transfer the files to supported eReaders.