Monday, December 1, 2014

Book Review: "Botticelli's Bastard" by Stephen Maitland-Lewis

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I feel like I have to be very careful about reviewing today's book. There's a big twist pretty close to the beginning that I don't want to give away so pardon my vagueness. So Giovanni Fabrizzi is in a funk, like the most wide spread, funkiest of funks. Though he's a gifted art restorer, he's feeling uninspired with the painting that he's working on. He's married to a beautiful woman, but he might not be over the death of his first wife, so his new marriage is flailing. So he's in a funk but he's also wallowing in a lot of self-pity which is not helping the situation. One day as he is perusing around some old crates in his studio he comes across a portrait he hasn't seen before. It's unsigned, which usually means that it isn't worth much, but something in it speaks to him that makes him really take a look at it.

He becomes obsessed with the painting, putting a strain on his already strained marriage and job, though he personally seems rejuvenated by taking on the mystery of the painting. This obsession takes him across Europe, and even into his own family's past. (Some of this does not end well and maybe cause more harm then good. That's the problem with digging down in your family history!) Through his experience with this painting and going through it's history, and his own history, he gets out of his funks and re-evaluates what is important in his life!

The book was a fast read (it also had large print, which I love because I apparently am 115 years old) and would be of interest to art and/or history fans of any kind!

Book Synopsis:

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.

Author's Bio:

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.

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