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Book Talk: Santlofer, ‘The Last Mona Lisa’

To be honest, I have to reveal that I nearly set this book aside after 25 or 30 pages. I was confused. However, before discarding it, I check the reviews of a few sources that I trust. Each reviewer raved about the book. I reopened the book and kept reading, and I’m glad I did. Jonathan Santlofer’s “The Last Mona Lisa” (2021, 376 pages in paperback format) is a great read.

Perhaps I was tired when I started the book, which is told from several perspectives. But it is Vincenzo Peruggia’s story. Sometimes he tells the tale through his journal; other times the story is told by his great grandson Luke Perrone. And this was probably the cause of my initial confusion because Vincenzo was a European and Perrone is an American whose family name was changed from Peruggia to Perrone. Moreover, when Luke refers to his great grandfather, he calls him Vincent, but the man is otherwise Vincenzo. 

The mystery that Santlofer presents involves the 1911 theft of DaVinci’s Mona Lisa from the Louvre, where Vincenzo was making a glass-covered box to protect it. Eventually, the painting was returned. But maybe it was a forgery.


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