By Olaf Olafsson
(Ecco Press, Paperback, 9780062065650, 326pp.)
Publication Date: February 2012
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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.