Trade Paperback/336 pages
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". . . a stimulating read with insight into Caravaggio . . ."
Enter into the most unimaginable and unique mystery novel, Restoration, by Olaf Olafsson and be awed by his brilliant skill in weaving a story. You will be captivated by two women whose lives intersect at an Italian villa in 1944 as German troops move across Italy.
Briton Alice alienates her prominent parents when she marries Claudio Orsini Marchese, an Italian minor but titled landowner, and moves to Italy where she and her husband begin the restoration of a Tuscany villa and adjacent tenant homes. But life takes a tragic turn as civil war breaks out between the partisans, a mix of republicans, communists, and monarchists, aiding the Allies against Fascists loyal to Mussolini.
As war rages on, and the Allies push the Germans out of Rome, the villa becomes a refuge for orphans and a medical center offering aid to friendly soldiers. We observe happenings in and around the villa from diary entries Alice writes to Claudio who has mysteriously disappeared. The secret she keeps hidden from her husband is why she has promised to hide in the villa a priceless painting owned by a German.
Meanwhile back in Rome years earlier, Icelandic transplant Kristín is restoring paintings for a renowned dealer of Renaissance art, Robert Marshall, who sells at auctions. The two engage in a love affair until Marshall deceives her. Kristín seeks revenge by forging a Caravaggio, a real-life16th-century realistic artist she views as a “hothead, thug, genius.” She never anticipates Marshall will sell it to a German and is stunned when Marshall disappears.
Kirstín finds her way to the villa and searches wildly for the painting. As the Allies push out the Germans, Alice fears all will be lost when they discover she has been hiding “a cultural treasure for the Germans.” She is worried that her secret of why she agreed to assist Marshall will be discovered.
This is a stimulating read with insight into Caravaggio intertwined with shocking twists and turns by Olfasson’s engaging characters.
Reviewer: Kate Padilla