Second Lisa by Veronica Knox
Second Lisa by Veronica Knox is a novel in a class by itself. Many would say it is historical fiction, with contemporary and paranormal elements thrown in the mix. I would say that it is all of the above, but like the ‘Mona Lisa’, Second Lisa has some mysteries of its own! It is a very lyrical novel with some of the best descriptive passages that I have ever read. It is a book to be savored slowly or you will miss some remarkable bits of history and philosophy.
It is a story about two strong women. The first is Lisabetta Buti, Leonardo Da Vinci’s younger sister. She was a strong woman born into the wrong time period, fiercely loyal to her brother and just as talented. She is so full of passion and life. “I remained invisible even after my brother taught me his trade. He was the sun and I was always hard to see.”
She makes a promise to Leonardo that she would stay with him always, even after death. Lisabetta remains on earth after her death and her soul becomes a part of the famous ‘Mona Lisa’ portrait. “She envisioned herself as the center of attention, beset and acknowledged by admirers-the equal of her illustrious brother. A Principessa in her own right”.
The second woman is Veronica Lyons, the modern day woman who can possibly liberate Lisabetta from her prison between life and death. Veronica is a Dream Walker, she can revisit Lisabetta’s past memories and together they hope to figure out how to release Lisabetta from her existence in the portrait. Lisabetta adds that “a painting is as much a prison as a mental institution”.
The reader goes back and forth from the story of Leonardo and Lisabetta to the story of Veronica and her autistic son, Jupiter. There are many similarities between Jupiter and Leonardo da Vinci, leading us to believe that Leonardo had a form of autism. The plot is complex at times, but just go with the flow between the two worlds. I have never read such apt descriptions of the autistic world! “Artists require harmony, the autistic, require balance”.
Through Veronica’s dream travels, we learn more about the history of The ‘Mona Lisa’. The spirit of Lisabetta cannot leave the famous portrait. She learns to become adept at short term possession, but with Veronica it is different. She can leave the museum with any imprint of ‘Mona Lisa’. She must stay close to Veronica or she starts to find herself ‘thin’. Veronica is becoming overwhelmed with her dreams that she doesn’t understand at first.. Veronica knows that a book is in the making that will“A different me pushes my hand to write. I am in search of a link to Leonardo da Vinci. That is all that remains clear……” somehow serve Jupiter, and that she has been gifted the time to create it. Veronica can’t decide if she is losing her mind or finding it. Veronica writes the story of Leonardo da Vinci using his sister’s memories. During her dream travels, Veronica also falls in love with an artist that has been dead for hundreds of years!
The story continues with the history of both Lisabetta and Veronica’s families. Both families are intertwined with each other and share the same gifts. There is a possibility that they are related in some way. It’s heart wrenching to read the pain that each family has endured. Leonardo’s life history and accomplishments are fascinating, but I enjoyed reading about the two main women. I think women’s histories have been overlooked and I appreciated reading history from a female perspective. We are also told the story of the Real ‘Mona Lisa’. There is SO much information and various stories in this large novel, the only fault I might have is that at times it was overwhelming! I don’t mean that as a harsh criticism! It was truly like standing in front of a Masterpiece and noticing all of the nuances that the artist painted into their work of art. I greatly enjoyed this interpretation of the life of Leonardo da Vinci and I appreciate all of the research Veronica Knox did in telling us this fascinating story. I won’t spoil the ending for any future readers, but I had to reread it several times. It was that good! Enjoy!!
Copy was supplied by the author.
Reviewed by Jules