I must say I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Several factors lead to my high praise of author and narrative, of course characters as well.
At first I found myself unsure of Giovanni’s mental stability, imagine stumbling upon a painting that speaks to you. Yes, we are aware Giovanni is mourning over the passing of his wife which is spilling over into his current marriage. It’s only natural to question Giovanni’s sanity at first…..until the story becomes clear and you realize he is of sound mind.
Two components grabbing my interest, the insertion of art in the plot and a question of morality. I’m a lover of art and a huge fan of a narrative forcing the reader to question what would you do in their shoes. Lewis succeeded on both levels.
Although the storyline had a lot going on, Lewis streamlined all of it to perfection. He blended stories of the past with the present wonderfully. The historic features well researched, the timeline stellar. The Count retelling history created dimension.
I adore Giovanni, easy to relate to, likable and a man with a conscious determined to do what’s right. He is a fine example of selflessness. His character is compelling and he is essentially the cog along with the Count spinning the yarn. The Count is as amusing as Giovanni only self absorbed and arrogant which fits his station. Nonetheless he is charming and provides a boost to an already intriguing narrative.
The narrative is clever, having art and provenance highlighted along with the unwelcome intrusion of Nazi’s in the art world during WWII creates a powerful punch. The ethics weaved into the plot adds interest and plausibility not to mention affection towards characters.
Wonderfully written, posing morality along with the complexities of relationships, a demonstration of doing the right thing without being influenced by capitalism. Highly recommend, I plan on exploring Stephen Maitland-Lewis further, beginning with past works as I anticipate future endeavors.
Art restorer Giovanni Fabrizzi is haunted by an unsigned renaissance portrait. Obsessed to learn the truth of its origin, he becomes increasingly convinced the painting could be the work of one of history’s greatest artists, which if true, would catapult its value to the stratosphere. But in learning of the painting’s past, he is faced with a dilemma. He believes the portrait was stolen during the greatest art heist in history—the Nazi plunder of European artwork. If true and a surviving relative of the painting’s rightful owner were still alive, Giovanni, in all good conscience, would have to give up the potential masterpiece. His obsession with the portrait puts a strain on his new marriage, and his son thinks his father has lost his mind for believing an unremarkable, unsigned painting could be worth anyone’s attention. Regardless, Giovanni persists in his quest of discovery and exposes far more truth than he ever wanted to know.
Stephen Maitland-Lewis is an award-winning author, a British attorney, and a former international investment banker. He held senior positions in the City of London, Kuwait, and on Wall Street before moving to California in 1991. He owned a luxury hotel and a world-renowned restaurant and was also the Director of Marketing of a Los Angeles daily newspaper. Maitland-Lewis is a jazz aficionado and a Board Trustee of the Louis Armstrong House Museum in New York. A member of PEN and the Author’s Guild, Maitland-Lewis is also on the Executive Committee of the International Mystery Writers Festival.
His novel Hero on Three Continents received numerous accolades, and Emeralds Never Fade won the 2012 Benjamin Franklin Award for Historical Fiction and the 2011 Written Arts Award for Best Fiction. His novel Ambition was a 2013 USA Best Book Awards and 2014 International Book Awards finalist and won first place for General Fiction in the 2013 Rebecca’s Reads Choice Awards. Maitland-Lewis and his wife, Joni Berry, divide their time between their homes in Beverly Hills and New Orleans. [Photo credit: Nathan Sternfeld]
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