Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Mona Lisa Speaks by Christopher Angel

The Mona Lisa Speaks
by Christopher Angel

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Published: May 2013
Publisher: Over The Edge Books
Genre: France, Thriller
Paperback: 363 pages
Rating: 4

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Brilliant & confident Robertson Ross, an outdoorsy Canadian computer expert hired to update the Louvre’s security system, falls in love with Mathilde, a classic beauty & cultured Parisian art dealer. But, when he discovers that she’s deeply in debt to Jacques Renard, a powerful & dangerous lord of the French criminal underground, he has to embark on the risky & thrilling theft of the Mona Lisa to save her – & their unborn child.

Rob’s biggest problems actually begin after he successfully steals the Mona Lisa & replaces her with a perfect copy. Facing betrayals at all turns, he needs every bit of his intelligence, cunning, courage, & computer skills to stay alive & reunite with his true love. This is a story of thrills, danger, & a Canadian from the frozen North falling in love with Paris.


Quote to note:
Women have been the reason for many of the greatest feats in human history.
-chapter 20, page 105

My two-bits:
Loved the mashup of art, computers and Paris in this thriller.

Also, learning about the inner workings of a museum (in this case the Louvre) was fascinating.

And yes, Mona Lisa speaks ;-)

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by Christopher Angel
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Robertson Ross is my fictional version of that new breed of person - the charismatic, outgoing computer genius. I know some of these types personally (but I will not name them here). The old cliche of the expert computer programmer as the ultra-nerd, not good with people, is outdated in this age of internet billionaires and the allure of Silicon Valley. Thus, I created Rob, an example of this new breed of well-rounded computer experts. And I feel the book has come out at exactly the right time - since Edward Snowden, a real life example of this new type, continues to grab headlines.

So, how is Rob different than the old cliche of the computer nerd? First, he’s a Canadian, and not just a “regular” Canadian, he grew up in the Yukon, the Canadian neighbor to Alaska. His father was a bush pilot, so Rob grew up comfortable both around the extreme of the Yukon wilderness and also around mechanical machines. I wanted to write a Canadian character because I wanted him to be a little different, and also because I am a Canadian myself, and thought I could master his voice more smoothly for my first book. I also was fortunate to spend some time in the Yukon as I was starting to write the novel, and fell under the spell of the place and the people I met there. It requires a certain amount of self-reliance to live there, especially given the long winters.

One of the traits that I imagined in Robertson was his curiosity. I pictured him watching American television and old classic movies with his father in his house during the long winter nights, and imagining living what he was seeing. He also read a lot as a child, but always had a natural affinity towards computers and programming. He lost his mother when he was still young, so he formed a very close relationship with his father. Through his father, he discovered good food, a love of jazz music, and French films. Through these classic French films, of Truffaut and Goddard, he fell in love with the Paris of old. But he’s always dreamed of living there and discovering the Paris of today.

This upbringing also made Robertson a bit of a romantic. He has had some relationships at college, but never anything too serious - part of the problem with focussing so much on computer science, and working so much. So, when he meets Mathilde, he was primed to really fall head over heels for her.

Ultimately, I think Rob’s defining characteristic is his loyalty. He’ll do anything for the people he loves, and he’s very dependable. These are not unique Canadian qualities, but I like to think that they are quite common in Canadians. Rob is the kind of guy you can count on in a crisis. He’s been through some life and death situations with his dad out in the Yukon wilderness, so he knows how important it is to stay calm and keep his cool. And he’s conditioned to be able to do that.

Rob is a modern Renaissance man. He’s an outdoorsman, a computer scientist, and a romantic. He’s a little like how I might imagine Leonardo da Vinci might be if he existed today!"

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by Christopher Angel
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About the Author:

Emmy nominee Christopher Angel was inspired to write The Mona Lisa Speaks, his first novel, during a visit to the Louvre, where he dared ask, “why is the Mona Lisa so famous?” The answer, in part, surprised him: few know that the Mona Lisa was stolen in 1911, and went missing for two years. Wondering what happened in those intervening two years launched his own fictional update of the story.

A professional film-maker, Christopher’s most recent movie as a writer/director is This Is Not A Test - a satire about domestic terrorism that aired on Showtime. He was nominated for an Emmy for his work on James Cameron’s documentary, Expedition Bismarck, and won a student Academy Award for his short film, Mr. October. Christopher received his B.A. from Yale University, where he was a Humanities major, and an MFA in film-making from the University of Southern California.

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* review copy courtesy of Mona Lisa Speaks tour - check out the other stops for more details on this book and goodies sponsored by France Book Tours.

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