Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Chasing Mona Lisa by Tricia Goyer & Mike Yorkey

The setting for this novel is Paris, occupied by the Nazis. The Germans had been distressed to find that many of the priceless pieces of art kept in the Louvre had been moved before they arrived. When Hitler was rattling sabers in the summer of 1939, the arts community of Paris believed him. August vacations were canceled at the Louvre and packing and crating had begun in earnest. Many works of art, such as the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Venus de Milo, and the Mona Lisa, had been evacuated the moment Hitler unleashed the Nazi blitzkrieg on Poland. They were safeguarded outside the city. This novel centers on the Mona Lisa and Goring's desire to have it as part of his extensive art collection.
Now, the occupation of Paris is nearly over. The resistance expects the Americans any minute. They are disappointed to find that the Allied troops will by pass Paris and head directly for Germany. Then Leclerc's tanks storm into Paris and liberate the city.
But the battle for Paris and its fine pieces of art is not over. Near Berlin, Reichsmashall Hermann Goring admires his art collection, but acknowledges he is missing something. He needs a “priceless” art object to ensure his safety after the defeat of German. He sets his sights on the Mona Lisa. A member of the resistance, an employee of the Louvre, and two OSS agents from Switzerland are assigned the task of retrieving the famous painting before the Nazis do.

This novel is actually a sequel to The Swiss Courier. It is too bad the book is not identified as such on the cover. While it was not necessary to read the first one to enjoy this novel, there are several allusions to events in the first novel.
I learned a great deal about occupied Paris and the resistance movement. I became aware of the factions within the resistance, especially the communist branch.
I also learned much about the history of the Mona Lisa, its theft in 1911, and its preservation during World War II.
I do wish, however, that the authors of this historical novel would have informed their readers as to which aspects of the novel are actually based on history and which parts are fiction. Did Goring really have nearly 2,000 pieces of art? Did OSS agents from Switzerland really help the resistance? Was the Mona Lisa really hidden in a chateau during the war?
Nonetheless, this is a pleasing novel to read of World War II Paris and the care of its art.

Tricia Goyer is the author of twenty-eight books. She lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, with her husband and four children. Visit her website at www.triciagoyer.com.
Mike Yorkey is the author or co-author of more than seventy-five books. He lives in Encinitas, CA, along with his wife. They have two adult children. They spend part of the year in her native Switzerland. Visit his website at www.mikeyorkey.com.

Revell (a division of Baker Publishing Group), 325 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

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