Tuesday, May 6, 2014
Restoration by Olaf Olafsson
A searing novel of love and war, betrayal and redemption.
Having grown up in an exclusive circle of wealthy British ex-pats in Florence in the 1920s, Alice Orsini shocks everyone when she marries the son of a minor Italian landowner and begins restoring San Martino, a crumbling villa in Tuscany, to its former glory. But after years of hard work, filling the acres with orchards, livestock, and farmhands, Alice's growing restlessness pulls her into the heady social swirl of wartime Rome and a reckless affair that will have devastating consequences.
Her indiscretion is noticed by careful eyes—those of Robert Marshall, a renowned dealer of renaissance art. In exchange for his silence, he demands Alice hide a priceless Caravaggio, a national treasure that he has sold to the Germans, at San Martino. As the front creeps toward Tuscany, sending a wave of orphans, refugees, and wounded Allies to San Martino, Alice trusts that the painting she's hiding will keep the Germans at bay. What she doesn't know is the truth about a brilliant young artist she harbors named Kristín, a prodigy who can restore any painting, and whose secrets may ruin them all.
Trapped between loyalists and resistors, cruel German forces and Allied troops, Alice and Kristín must withstand the destruction of everything around them while painfully confronting the consequences of their past mistakes.
In this sweeping story of passion and betrayal, Olafsson works his profound magic once again, creating a novel that grapples with the moral abyss of war while rendering the psychological portraits of those living through it with masterful strokes.
Restoration, by Olaf Olafsson, is set in war-torn Italy in the 1940s. My first attraction to this novel was its beautiful cover with raised print and soft, deckled pages. It was unique. But knowing better than to “judge a book by its cover” or by the soft feel of the pages within, I proceeded to purview its content and discover a bit about the author. I was not disappointed. It is an intricate tale of love and war; one successfully told in two voices, first and third person narrations—a rare feat deserving much credit. .Mr. Olafsson is the executive vice president of Time Warner and his awareness and attention to quality in the written word is evident. His book enthralls the reader with a clear storyline involving all the human strengths and flaws exposed in times of calm and times when war storms the peace at every door. His characters are complex individuals, some of whom I could embrace on one page and detest on the next; the real feel of real people. It is a book truly “hard to put down” for its emotional quality of content. Readers are taken into each character to full understanding of each one’s value in the context of the story. Then they are played out in unpredictable journeys. As the war rages outside her door, Alice is torn between two lovers in an internal war of her own. She pays the ultimate price for betrayal. Kristen is unsettled, seeking her own elusive artistic identity. Alice and Kristen are in two separate love triangles, but they have one common thread—a man.
Mr. Olafsson has a talent for captivating scenes through poetic descriptions. I would highly recommend this book to everyone. I consider it historical fiction at its best.
Length: 326 Pages
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Thanks for visiting. Rose & Rochelle