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THE SMILE by Donna Jo Napoli


by Donna Jo Napoli

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-525-47999-4
Publisher: Dutton

The lushly detailed life of a girl who grows up to pose for the Mona Lisa. Elisabetta savors her country home with its verdant gardens. She contentedly harvests olives and helps run the family’s silkworm business. Because she’s an aristocrat, she must betroth herself to a nobleman, but she hopes desperately for someone young and passionate rather than an old widower. On a visit to Florence, family acquaintance Leonardo da Vinci introduces her to Giuliano de’ Medici, the youngest son of Florence’s ruling family. In this city bursting with art and artists—Leonardo, Botticelli, a young Michelangelo—Betta and Giuliano connect instantly. After his father’s death, Giuliano’s older brother Piero claims the republic and runs it into the ground, resulting in their exile. Political strife and family deaths repeatedly postpone Betta’s husband-seeking party, but although her engagement with Giuliano is secret, she never dreams the truth—that her father’s betrothed her elsewhere. Through this deeply personal story, Napoli paints a magnificent and mournful portrait of the Italian Renaissance, both tragic and triumphant. (Historical fiction. YA)