Tom, shy office clerk by day and drawer of foxes by night wakes up one Monday knowing the most extraordinary week of his life is about to begin.
In five days time a lifelong ‘secret’ will be made gloriously public—but will it mean losing the person he loves most?
It seems like only yesterday Tom changed nappies and sang nursery rhymes to a laughing baby. He relishes the demands of being a daddy; especially teaching his little girl to draw and paint as she grows up.
But the years tick by and times change. Long-buried secrets must come to the surface which may test even the strongest ties.
Tom and Lawrence…
He writes a list of all the things he has to do before the weekend and sticks it in the middle of his wall. The names and goals hang like threads of a spider’s web, inevitably leading to the centre, and all to the same place.
Dear Mona Lisa…
How to explain?
Each morning he notes the colours of dawn, listens to the birds and waits for the perfect moment. In one hand rests the balance of life and a terrible responsibility, in the other a wedding ring. Difficult days and the past loom, but his friends rally round and one by one the words come to life.
Everyone waits as Tom finds the strength to open up and set free the secrets of his heart in a celebration of family, friendship and love.
A quirky story of modern life, set within the breathtaking landscape of Bradford.
A heartfelt thank you to both authors for the ARC of this book.
Karen: In an age where publishers send out ARCs of the books months in advance, passages – practically chapters are quoted in the press, on blogs and on SM I find the attitude of Davies/ Stewart refreshing. In that these books don’t seem to need the fanfare of 100s of ARCs and advanced reviews from a never changing fan pool: Al Stewart and Claire Davis’ books speak for themselves.
However, they also deserve to be praised more and sold more widely: romance lovers should pick up any one of their books, and revel in the excellent writing and rather refreshing honesty of their narratives.
Fra: Oh Karen, I couldn’t agree more! At the moment by the time a book is out we have already been exposed to mostly of its content, the ravings of the “fans” (frankly I am not even sure about the word anymore – with many a writer in the genre it is more like cult than fandom – but that’s an argument for a different blog post).
I was delighted to receive an advance copy of Dear Mona Lisa, ever since reading Tork I have become rather enthralled by the writing skills of this writing duo. I also apologise for the late review: work travel prevented me from reviewing this most delightful of books by its publishing date. But I am back now and ready to wax lyrical about the novel.
Karen: Mona Lisa is simply a book about love: romantic, sexual, familial and between friends . It is about the sacrifices parents make that don’t feel like sacrifices and how love can find you when you least expect it. There are no wasted pages or prose in this book at all, every word counts.
Fra: I find that there is a delicacy to Stewart and Davies’ writing that allows them to tackle heavy duty subject matter without ever becoming cliched or relying on overused tropes.
In Mona Lisa I absolutely loved the way this novella manages to explore so many facets of love without losing track of the plot or the final denouement.
I loved Tom the main character and narrator and found that his internal monologue on his relationships with lover Loz, daughter Lisa Louise and all secondary characters to be relatable and engaging.
Like you say Karen in just 80 short pages the authors explore love in all its aspects. Tom and Lou relationship is fleshed out in strokes that remind me of paintings and drawings: economical in its lack of rhetoric it also presents a rather stunning picture of the beautiful connection of this father and daughter.
I appreciated how Tom and Loz are older men and how their relationship is stable and loving and deep set: and I found Tom’s reluctance to go through his “to do” list in the run up to the wedding to be very relatable indeed. As a parent myself I do find my life and choices heavily wrapped up around my child – at times even irrationally, that is my fears and concerns are not necessarily my child’s and yet they still drive me.
Tom and Loz’s relationship was amazingly rendered: it was romantic and strong and beautiful.
The writing carried such an emotional weight without ever becoming verbose, every word counts – so much so that there’s a poetic quality to it which made the story shine and sparkle.
Friendship, old and new, also takes a key role in the novel and once again it is all so very beautifully done: on the one hand the comfort of old friendships and on the other the surprising presence of new ones.
Karen: Mona Lisa also touches, briefly, on issues such as religious hatred of homosexuality, the desire to conform to societal norms, alienation and self doubt. In many other books these would be massive angsty dramas, and while perhaps the book lacked depth here, it was good to read a novel where these issues didn’t make the character ‘broken’ or ‘damaged’ or where they did not become the end all to be cured with “magic sex”.
Fra: I actually thought that the depth of repercussion of the issues you mention above is conveyed by how much Tom’s self doubt is related to them but also, and I’ll say especially, in Tom’s and Lou’s relationship. It is almost as if the positive space, the love filled connection between father and daughter exists to illuminate the negative spaces left by Tom and his parents’. I think the depth of the issues is subtly rendered but carries weight in Tom’s faltering behavior in completing the most important of tasks on his list.
I also agree that in a sea of cliche’ driven angst-y romance novels, Dear Mona Lisa avoids the typical pitfall of turning into an angst fest for the titillating pleasure of the audience, and becomes, instead the foundation of Tom’s love and strength.
All in all Dear Mona Lisa is a poignant, romantic, realistic and beautifully written novel which we happily story recommend to all.
Buy it here:
Check the authors website here: http://astewartcdavisbook.wixsite.com/author