Book Reviews

Sunday Review: Dear Mona Lisa…by Claire Davis & Al Stewart

dear mona lisaTom, 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?

Getting married…

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.

This book…Wow. From the first line, it reached into my chest and grabbed my heart in an iron fist of emotions. It’s a work of art painted with words. It’s beautiful and heartbreaking and wonderful.

I love stories featuring quirky characters, where the authors bravely color outside the lines and turn their backs on stereotypes. And this book is all that, and more!

Main character Tom has had a very difficult past and a hard time coming to terms with his homosexuality. It’s a short story (65 pages according to Amazon) but the authors do a great job telling his backstory and giving just enough to break my heart. It’s less than a week before he’s getting married, and Tom has a hard time telling his beloved adult daughter that he’s getting married to a man. He’s terrified he will lose her, for very understandable reasons and this gem of a book shows how he goes about it.

Tom is an artist and draws quirky animals (foxes) and sees the world in colors. It’s difficult to explain, so I’ll show you in a couple quotes (I highlighted a gazillion when I read it. So many it would have been copyright infringement to post them all here 😁)

His purple rage consumed and grew, and I disappeared somewhere in all that aubergine.

His orange was the sun to my cold, lonely planet.

That last quote is about his husband to be, Loz (Lawrence) and it makes me week in the knees. Someone hand me my smelling salts, because I’m about to swoon!

The emotions in this book are amazing. The way Tom desperately loves his daughter leaps off the page. I can feel the love between the main characters all the way to my bones. The supporting characters are great, especially his ex-wife. And isn’t it great when the ex-wife isn’t portrayed like a villain?

I have one minor niggle: I would like to have known more about Loz. His love and support for Tom is abundantly clear, but I would have loved to get some more backstory. But in the end, it’s not enough for me to lower the rating, and I curse myself for making up a stupid five-star rating system, because this book deserves all the stars.

And if you manage to read through the wedding vows without grabbing for the Kleenex, you have no heart and you’re dead inside. Dead! 😁

Dear Mona Lisa… ends up on my re-read shelf. I want to kiss it and hug it and scream from the rooftops how great it is. If you’re in the mood for something different, something beautiful and artistic and emotional, this is the book for you.