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.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“Botticelli’s Bastard” is not your typical dry and boring historical/art world fiction novel. It begins with a character wondering if he is losing his mind, and for a long time you aren’t sure if he is or if he is actually perfectly sane and just under strange circumstances. Love books like that.
In this case, Stephen Maitland-Lewis has brought us a main character that we can both identify with for his daily stresses and care about, and given him a life in modern times that is closely connected to the past of many years ago through his highly specialised job. As an art restorer, Giovanni is trusted with some of the world’s finest art pieces, but it is not until he runs across an unsigned painting, supposedly by Botticelli that everything changes for him.
Want more? Have to read the book. I liked this novel for a variety of reasons. The author never lost sight of his plot or his main story line, but managed to incorporate both the many tales of the portrait and stay historically accurate to the time periods he described as well as keeping the life and happenings of his modern character believable.
The Count is brash and egotistical, just as one would expect him to be. I thought the author did a wonderful job with this book, making it both entertaining and oddly addicting.
As for the ending, it couldn’t have been more perfect.
If you like historical novels or are into the art world, then this book will give you more than a few smiles. Recommended.
This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher and provided through Netgalley. All opinions are my own.