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.
Photo credit: Nathan Sternfeld
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.
This book is very different to what I was
expecting. I thought it would be an Art historian researching the history of a
painting. To a point it does that yet it is so much more. There is the
intricate relationship between Gio, whois still grieving the loss of his first wife, and his second wife and
son. The mystery and suspense is well done and takes the reader to the Nazi
occupation of France via modern day Germany, Paris and of course Florence.
There are parts of the novel that take it from being a serious historical
account to bordering on the ludicrous yet somehow through the writing the
author manages to pull it off. Just! Perhaps it’s the juxtaposition of the
factual style to depict something that stretches the readers' (and Gio’s
family’s) credulity to the limit. I won’t say any more as I don’t want to spoil
it but well worth a read.