Review: The Miracles of Prato by Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz

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I am happy to be a host for the TLC Book Tour for The Miracles of Prato by Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz and as part of the tour, here is my review.


by Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz

Publication Date: February 2, 2010
William Morrow Publishing
384p

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SYNOPSIS: Italy, 1456. The Renaissance is in glorious bloom, an age of unbridled creativity, commerce, art, and innovation. One of the most colorful men of this astonishing time is Fra Filippo Lippi, equally revered as a painter and reviled as a rogue. A great artist, he serves Cosimo de' Medici and the Catholic Church, creating masterpieces in celebration of God and His glory. A Carmelite monk, he acts as chaplain to the nuns of the Convent Santa Margherita—and it is here, behind the cloister walls, that he encounters the greatest temptation of his life.

Penniless and beautiful, young Lucrezia Buti has been driven to Santa Margherita more by poverty than piety. Mesmerized by Lucrezia's flawless features, Lippi sees in her face the inspiration for countless Madonnas. With the help of his powerful friends and an unscrupulous prioress, he draws upon favors that will lead to dangerous consequences, and brings the young woman to his studio to serve as his model.

Painter and muse are soon united in an exhilarating whirl of artistic discovery. As weeks and months pass, a passionate love develops between the irascible artist and the young nun, resulting in a scandalous romance that threatens to destroy them even as it fuels some of Lippi's greatest work. Their affair sparks anger, envy, and vengeance . . . and it will take a miracle of undying faith, unsurpassed beauty, and unfathomable love to save all that Lippi and Lucrezia cherish.

A gorgeous novel that brings together real and imagined characters from Italy's rich history, The Miracles of Prato is a moving and unforgettable tale of desire and devotion, both sensual and spiritual, set in an extraordinary time and place when beauty, faith, and art were celebrated above all. 

Having no artistic capability whatsoever, I never thought that I would come to love historical novels based on painters as much as I do and The Miracles of Prato was no exception!

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Filippo Lippi
I was swept away to 15th century Italy and into the lives of Fra Filippo Lippi and his muse/model turned love, Lucrezia Buti. Fra Lippi is not your typical monk…I’d actually call him more of a reluctant monk. Taken in my Carmelite monks after the death of his parents, Filippo was never a serious religious student, but he took vows in order to pursue his love of art.

Likewise, Lucrezia is a most reluctant player in her move to Santa Margherita. She really has no other choice after her father dies and she is left with no dowry and while she consigns herself to her fate, a part of her still dreams of the days with her family, surrounded by the beautiful things in life. Their destinies take a turn when Lippi first lays eyes on Lucrezia and he sees the face of the Madonna that has eluded him in his paintings. Her sittings with Lippi are where they fall in love and will ultimately risk everything to build a life together.

All in all, I felt the two writers did a fantastic job at bringing Filippo and Lucrezia’s story to life. They defied the church to follow their hearts and it left me wanting to know more about them, which is never a bad thing. It was a good, quick read and I highly recommend it!

My favorite quote: “Remember, the weak will enter God’s kingdom first, and the righteous will be last.”

ABOUT THE AUTHORS:   

PhotobucketLaurie Albanese is the author of the novel Lynelle by the Sea and the memoir Blue Suburbia, which was named a Book Sense Best Book of the Year and was an Entertainment Weekly Editor’s Choice selection.

Laura Morowitz is a professor of art history and coauthor of Consuming the Past: The Medieval Revival in Fin-de-Si├Ęcle France. They both live in New Jersey with their families.

Read the co-author Q&A here.

OTHER STOPS ON THE TOUR:

Tuesday, August 10th: Peeking Between the Pages
Wednesday, August 11th: The Tome Traveller
Thursday, August 12th: English Major’s Junk Food
Monday, August 16th: The Whimsical Cottage
Wednesday, August 18th: Bookalicio.us
Tuesday, August 24th: Passages to the Past
Wednesday, August 25th: Lit and Life
Thursday, August 26th: Life in the Thumb
Monday, August 30th: Rundpinne
Tuesday, August 31st: Drey’s Library
Thursday, September 2nd: The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader

FTC DISCLOSURE:  Thanks to TLC Tours for providing my copy for review.


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6 comments:

  1. I loved this book as well and thought it felt very authentic. I am so glad that you loved it as well! Great review!

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  2. "Having no artistic capability whatsoever" - oh I'm right with you there! And yet books about artists seem to fascinate me as well ... maybe because my skills are so lacking?! LOL

    I'm thrilled that you enjoyed this book so much - thanks for being a part of the tour!

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  3. This sounds like a truly delightful book. Not many realize just how limited the options were for women in the past. (Those of use who read and love historical fiction are of course the exception.) In Medieval times there were few choices indeed. The church was a powerful influence in lives and you risked much if you got on their wrong side.

    It should be very interesting seeing this time period and their lives from their viewpoints.

    Thanks for the review.

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  4. This sounds so good, great review.
    The time and setting sound really interesting.
    http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/

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  5. I too love arty historicals! There is definately a great story behind this one, and I can't wait to read it. Onto the list it goes! Thanks for the review Amy.

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  6. I am reading this at the moment for my tour stop on Thursday (nothing like leaving it until the last minute) and so far I am thoroughly enjoying it too.

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