The Second Mrs. Giaconda

by E. L. Konigsburg

Paperback, 1998



Call number

PB Kon

Call number

PB Kon

Local notes

PB Kon


Atheneum Books for Young Readers (1998), 160 pages


Relates, from the point of view of his servant Salai, how Leonardo da Vinci came to paint the Mona Lisa.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

160 p.; 5.12 inches


0689821212 / 9780689821219



User reviews

LibraryThing member Hamburgerclan
This is another fictional tale about the lives of historical people--in this case Leonardo da Vinci and his servant, Salai. Salai is only known through a few references in Leonardo's papers. The earlier ones refer to him as a thief and general scoundrel, the later ones have Leonardo giving him money and remembering him in his will. Ms. Konigsburg weaves a tale in an effort to connect the two faces of Salai and, more importantly, to try gain some insight on what the mind of one of the greatest geniuses of history was like. It's a nice book, but in the end I fell like rating it as waiting room material. I don't know if it's just because today's a rainy day and I'm feeling somber, or if maybe I've just been reading too much historical fiction.
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LibraryThing member mysteriesrme
Ms. Konigsburg marvels me with her virtuousity. The last book I read was Up from Jericho Tel and that was an excellent read. In this book, the story revolves around Leondardo da Vinci, his larcenous apprentice, Salai, and Il Moro's wife, Beatrice.

It is an interesting character study of Leonardo: he is independent, unemotional, brilliant, and competitive. Salai, observes his master intently and makes friends with Il Moro's wife, Beatrice. Beatrice, second chosen, because IL Moro could not marry Isabelle, is plain. Since she was not beautiful her husband abandons her at every chance. Beatrice, however, is intelligent, witty, clever, and mischievous. She is the perfect match for Salai and she delights in Salai's company because they both are cut from the same cloth. Her husband, IL Moro, was not in love with when they wed, but he soon discovers that her beauty is in her character. At the end, the reader will understand how and why the famous Mona Lisa was painted.

I found this book to be well-written and inspirational. It reinforces the concept that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
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LibraryThing member raizel
E.L. Konigsburg wondered why one of the greatest artists of all times would want to paint the portrait of the unglamorous, second wife of a merchant. Taking a few documents referring to one of Leonardo da Vinci's servants, called Salai, and a possible friendship with Beatrice, the wife of the Duke of Milan, Konigburg writes a fascinating story of friendship, the need for opposites to create great art, inner beauty and coming of age. I enjoyed her use of language: Salai uses slang, especially the word, "guy," when he speaks.
There are black-and-white reproductions of the paintings discussed in the book at the very end.
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LibraryThing member SheilaCornelisse
This is a tale of how Leonardo de Vinci came to paint the Mona Lisa. It also provides an hypothesis as to who the mysterious lady is who became the subject of this famous painting. The main thread through this tale is Leonardo's relationship with his servant Salai, reknowned best for his dishonesty and thievery. The novel was a quick, light read and one must remember that is historical fiction.… (more)
LibraryThing member srssrs
This book is a fictional account of Leonardo da Vinci, his servant Salai, and the court of Milan; specifically it is supposed to be about the woman who posed for the famous Mona Lisa, Beatrice, the second wife of the the Duke of Milan. The book describes possible relationships between Leonardo and the court as well as his servant. It may or may not be odd that a dwarf servant ended up being so close to a duchess, but that is the fictional account of this book. I wouldn't say the characters are extremely well-developed or that the plot is quick and engaging; it isn't. It is just dialogue about relationships and who has been wronged. I don't think this book is particularly engaging or interesting; average at best. The book cover definitely over sells the text.… (more)
LibraryThing member juniperSun
A round-about way of giving insight into Leonardo da Vinci's personality, Konigsburg's story is given from the perspective of one of his assistants. We are also sympathetic to The Duke's young wife and come to respect her honesty and ability to find/create joy in the life she was dealt. Altho we know the book will be about the Mona Lisa, it isn't until the very end that we find out who was the model for this painting. Very creative & believable presentation of life in Renaissance Italy (tho what do I know). I liked hearing about some of the inventions, and all the different interests of DaVinci.
I thoroughly enjoyed this and will keep the book to share with friends & visitors.
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LibraryThing member ansate
this is where I start really appreciating how her protoganists are not perfect and we're not trying to change them so they are.

esp with leonardo, it's gotta be hard not to go all "Great man" trope and make him be everything. instead we see the thin skin and a self-distancing --- and friends who love him for who he is and want him to be happy. loving people as they are is an amazing thing to see in kidlit… (more)

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