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Protecting DaVinci's Secret Love Letters During WWII - an Editorial Review of "Mona Lisa's Daughter"

Mona Lisa's Daughter book cover

Book Blurb:

From acclaimed author Belle Ami, renowned for her poignant World War II epic, The Last Daughter, inspired by her mother's survival of the Holocaust, emerges a captivating saga that transcends the bounds of time. Mona Lisa’s Daughter entwines the fates of two remarkable women against the backdrop of history's glittering peaks and darkest depths.

In the resplendent glory of Renaissance Florence, Leonardo da Vinci meets Lisa del Giocondo, the wife of a silk merchant, forging a friendship that transcends the conventional roles of artist and muse. Their bond yields what many consider the greatest masterpiece the world has ever known, but also harbors a shared secret that must be kept hidden at all costs.

Fast forward four centuries to the dawn of World War II, where in the shadow of fascist rule, fear grips the city of Florence. It is here that young nun Valentina Amati shoulders the duty of safeguarding a hidden cache of letters exchanged between Leonardo and Lisa. However, as the malevolence of Hitler’s Nazis marches ever closer, Valentina finds herself haunted by her own past and ensnared in a perilous web of secrets that threaten not only her life but also the sanctuary she has vowed to protect.

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Author Bio:

Belle Ami author photo

I'm Belle Ami, and if you're reading this bio, then you may be a lover of historical fiction, historical romance, time travel thrillers with romantic elements, and romantic suspense because that's my passion, and that's what I write. I'm a #1 Amazon bestseller of THE GIRL WHO KNEW DA VINCI, THE GIRL WHO LOVED CARAVAGGIO, & THE GIRL WHO ADORED REMBRANDT - Books 1, 2, and 3 in the compelling OUT OF TIME SERIES—art thrillers with a time-travel twist.

Historical Romance is a genre I've just begun to write, and I love it! My publisher, Dragonblade, is the cat's meow when it comes to historical romance. There is no publisher better or more supportive. My upcoming release LUCK OF THE LYON (Lyon's Den Series) is up for pre-sale and I'm totally stoked and excited to hear from my readers. Be sure to drop me a note and let me know how you enjoy this book, because there are more historical romances coming!

My latest bestseller—a book set in World War II Poland and Germany—is titled THE LAST DAUGHTER. It is a completely revised and rewritten version of my very first book: IN THE FACE OF EVIL. The story was inspired by the life of my beloved and courageous mother, Dina Frydman Balbien, who was one of the youngest survivors of the Holocaust. Dina turned 93 on June 20, 2022, and I cannot tell you how emotional I am that she is able to read this book. Thank you for making THE LAST DAUGHTER a #1 Amazon Bestseller since its release in June 2021.

I'm very excited about my new series, LOST IN TIME. Three time-travel adventures, LONDON TIME, PARIS TIME, and TUSCAN TIME. Take a trip to Victorian London and then Belle Epoque Paris, where murder and intrigue keep my heroines on their toes. The last adventure takes place in 1902 in the magnificent countryside of Tuscany.

I'm also very proud that THE GIRL WHO LOVED CARAVAGGIO is the Silver Medal Runner up in the 2020 RONE Awards and the winner of The Book Excellence Award. THE GIRL WHO KNEW DA VINCI is the winner of the 2019 RAVEN Award and is a 2018 Finalist of the Readers' Favorite Awards. THE GIRL WHO ADORED REMBRANDT is the Finalist for the 2021 Book Excellence Award and a 2021 RONE Award Finalist.

My romantic thriller series TIP OF THE SPEAR introduces my sexy Mossad hero in a trio of international thriller novels with romantic elements: ESCAPE, VENGEANCE, RANSOM, EXPOSED. I'm also a 2018 RONE Award finalist for ESCAPE. VENGEANCE is also the Gold Medal Winner of the 2019 Readers' Favorite Awards for Espionage Thriller.

My first novel was a finalist for a major book award and launched my writing career and I haven't slowed down since.

When I'm not working on my next book, you'll find me in the kitchen whipping up something delicious for my family to enjoy. In addition to gourmet cooking, my passions include playing classical piano, kick-boxing, skiing, and travel. I call Southern California home.

Editorial Review:

"Mona Lisa's Daughter" by Belle Ami is a captivating and poignant historical novel about World War II that urges you to explore Italy's tumultuous past through the eyes of powerful

and complex characters. The author brings to the forefront the destinies of remarkable

women, tested by the tragic events of their time.

The book begins with a scene full of tension and humor between two nuns, Suor Maria

Vittoria and Suor Ursula, who lay the foundation for a relationship full of trust and

compassion. The intense dialogues and realistic details create an authentic and vibrant

atmosphere that emotionally engages you in their story.

May I help you with something, Sister?" Suor Ursula cackled like a witch from a fairy tale about to eat a pair of lost children. Unfortunately, the old nun’s laughter released a most unseemly smell from the other end of her body.”

Belle Ami also brings to the forefront the poignant story of young Valentina, forced to leave

her family due to a shameful scandal and seek refuge in a convent. Throughout her inner

journey, Valentina confronts her own doubts and fears, but also the compassion and wisdom

of the nuns who guide her in her search for peace and forgiveness.

"You have brought shame on our family! Dear God, what a curse!" Her mother, Giulia, had repeated the words over and over as she tore at her hair and rocked back and forth in her chair.”

As Valentina discovers her place in the world and begins to find understanding and

acceptance amidst the community of nuns, the reader witnesses an emotional and provocative

journey that illuminates profound aspects of human nature and the human condition in times

of conflict and suffering.

Stories are wondrous, indeed. They help us see the world in a di$erent light and perhaps help us better understand our place in it.”

With writing full of sensitivity and imagination, Belle Ami creates a remarkable story about

love, sacrifice, and hope amidst the darkness of war. The book explores profound themes

such as motherhood, love, and sacrifice, inviting readers to delve into the lives of the

characters and feel their joys, sorrows, and inner struggles. Additionally, the events the

characters go through, such as Valentina's traumatic experience in the forest, add an element

of suspense and tension to the story, keeping the reader engaged throughout the book.

A remarkable aspect of the book is the deep relationship between Leonardo and Lisa, which

is underscored through emotionally charged dialogues. In one passage, Lisa offers Leonardo

genuine friendship, expressing her belief that there will always be trust between them,

regardless of circumstances. This relationship full of understanding and support contrasts

sharply with the issues Leonardo faces in his personal life.

Moreover, the novel explores themes such as freedom and independence through Valentina's

story, as she leaves her family in search of her own identity. Passages depicting Valentina's

struggle for independence and fulfillment add substantial depth to the narrative. Another

notable aspect of the book is the perspective offered on the art and creations of Leonardo da

Vinci. The dialogues and thoughts of the characters admirably reflect their concern for art and

research, providing readers with a glimpse into the inner world of an artistic genius.

One of the main themes of the book is the fear and uncertainty that accompany the wartime

period. Characters are forced to live with the fear of being discovered and persecuted by

fascist authorities. A wrong step can have devastating consequences, and this feeling is

vividly conveyed in the passages where the characters struggle to protect their identity and

loved ones:

These were dangerous times. She closed her eyes and prayed for Chiara and her

adoptive parents. God keep you safe.”

In addition to the wartime tension, the novel also explores themes such as love, sacrifice, and

hope. The characters grapple with their own demons and the traumas caused by war, but they

find the strength to move forward and hope for a better future.

Her father’s calm reply that she was visiting her great aunt in Fiesole earned him a beating that made Meira scream inside her mind and bite her lip until the metallic taste of blood nearly made her gag.”

This passage highlights the character's suffering and despair regarding the tragic situation they are in, but also their determination to survive and find their missing parents.

One of the passages that deeply impressed me is Leonardo's letter to Lisa, in which he

expresses his thoughts and feelings in a poignant and sincere manner. This deep and sensitive

letter illustrates the special bond between the two and adds a note of intimacy and emotion to

the book.

How I have loved you. How I have cherished our friendship. My time is nearly spent, and my only regret is that you are not at my side. Ever near me is your portrait, your beauty captured for all time. It is the most precious thing I possess. Only in death will I relinquish it.”

The author manages to depict the relationship between Leonardo da Vinci and Lisa del

Giocondo, highlighting their profound connection and love through intimate letters and

dialogues. The excerpts from the book provide us with a glimpse behind the scenes of the

creation of the famous painting and reveal the human side of these iconic historical figures.

Leonardo, my love, no grand commission, no mural in the Hall of Five Hundred, no

patronage from king or pope ever equaled what you achieved in our portrait. I believe, my dearest, that it is your greatest work—a work of such astounding beauty that it will stand the test of time and elevate you to who I always knew you would become... the most significant artist the world has ever known.”

These words underscore the importance and depth of the bond between the two, offering a new perspective on the mystery and significance of the painting.

"Mona Lisa's Daughter" proves to be a fascinating journey through the era of the Italian

Renaissance, unveiling the mysteries and passions that surrounded the famous painting of the

Mona Lisa. Through a captivating story and complex characters, Belle Ami provides us with

a fresh perspective on one of the most enigmatic works of art in history.

"Mona Lisa's Daughter" is a captivating read that blends history with the depth of emotions

and characters. With sensitive and imaginative writing, Belle Ami creates a remarkable story

of love, sacrifice, and hope amidst the darkness of war. This captivating and profound book

will linger in the minds and hearts of readers long after they close its cover.


“Mona Lisa's Daughter” by Belle Ami receives 4.5 stars from The Historical Fiction Company


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