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#396 ~ Restoration

Restoration by Olaf Olafsson

Published by: Ecco

Published on: February 7, 2012

Page Count: 336

Genre: Historical Fiction

My Reading Format: ARC sent to me by a publicist for consideration

Available Formats: Paperback and eBook


My Review

Alice, the daughter of British ex-patriots living in Florence, gained a title when she married. Unfortunately, her husband offers little else than his title and her parents disapprove. Still, she finds happiness early in her marriage as she and her husband set out to restore a Tuscan villa. Unfortunately, after boredom sets in, she runs into a gentleman from her past with her mother’s blessings. Only heartache results. Meanwhile, Kristin, a young artist who is technically proficient if not lacking in her own spark, finds restoring older paintings for Robert Marshall, a reputable art dealer. Kristin makes the mistake many young women do and begins an affair with Robert. The consequences for both women are heartbreaking. Then, as WWII heats up, their lives intertwine in Tuscany. The novel’s title refers to art, the old Tuscan villa, and the lives of both women. When all is lost but your own life, what other choice is there?

Tuscany isn’t a part of the world I’ve spent much of my time reading. That is what drew me to Restoration. Sometimes I feel like I’ve overdosed on WWII historical fiction, but I love it when it is both good and unique to my experience. Restoration is just that. The way that Olaf Olafsson told Alice’s story, Kristin’s story and then weaved them both together sparked my interest from the very first page. There is something about a well written doomed affair that will always fascinate me, I absolutely loved Kristin’s work. Imagine having the talent to take a famous artist’s work and restore what has been damaged. It must be thrilling. At the same time, it’s a little less the work of the master. The more I thought about this, the more it shaped my reaction to the final pages of the book.

It is such a satisfying experience to read a book like Restoration that is both enjoyable and thought provoking. The title itself provides an initial frame of reference, but it is not static. Its meaning expands as the novel progresses. First there is the villa, then the art, and ultimately the lives of the two women left to fight for so much. Just remembering Restoration makes me want to curl up under my warm afghan and read. This was my first Olaf Olafsson read and it will not be my last. Having a taste for his writing and his story telling, each of his four previous novels sound wonderful. I highly recommend this novel and this author.

14 Comments

  • At 2012.02.07 06:54, sagustocox said:

    This book is on my TBR list. I would love to read this one with its artist and WWII angle…always the books that keep my attention

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    • At 2012.02.07 21:37, Literate Housewife said:

      I think you would really love this one. I’m so glad to have read it. I wish it had more buzz.

    • At 2012.02.07 10:30, Beth Hoffman said:

      I was drawn in by the title and cover, and then when I read your review, I knew this was a book I’d enjoy. Thanks, Jennifer!

      • At 2012.02.07 21:39, Literate Housewife said:

        Beth, you’ve got to read this one. I really was swept up in the story.

      • At 2012.02.07 17:18, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

        I haven’t overdosed on WWII yet, so this sounds good to me! I love to escape to Tuscany in a book!

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        • At 2012.02.07 21:40, Literate Housewife said:

          This is definitely a WWII unique to my experience. It made me want to go to Tuscany for the first time. Italy has never really appealed to me before.

        • At 2012.02.07 21:12, jenn aka the picky girl said:

          As Tuscany is one of my favorite places and WWII one of my favorite periods, I can’t wait to read this one. Thanks so much for calling it to my attention!

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          • At 2012.02.07 21:41, Literate Housewife said:

            You are most welcome! I wish this book had more buzz. I’m not on the interwebs 24/7, but I can’t remember hearing anyone else talk about it. I really enjoyed it.

          • At 2012.02.07 21:31, Farin said:

            And this is now on my TBR list. When I went to Rome two years ago, I spoke to a Jewish woman who lived through the war and had to go into hiding–the time period is so fascinating. Have you read A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell? Also a great piece of Italian WWII historical fiction.

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            • At 2012.02.07 21:45, Literate Housewife said:

              This book is definitely right up your alley. I haven’t read that Mary Doria Russell novel. I have only read one of her books, Dreamers of the Day. It was okay, nothing to write home about really, so I never picked up another of her books. I’ll add this one to my TBR, though.

              • At 2012.02.07 21:50, Farin said:

                Honestly, I’ve had a hard time reading Mary Doria Russell’s other books. I made it through Dreamers, but I couldn’t get through Doc because it was so dry. A Thread of Grace was very different, though–beautiful and heartbreaking all at once.

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                • At 2012.02.07 21:55, Literate Housewife said:

                  It sounds like we had the same reaction to Dreamers, which is a good sign that I’ll enjoy A Thread of Grace!

            • At 2012.02.07 22:06, Erika Robuck said:

              This book is sitting in my TBR pile, and your review has caused me to move it to the top. I can’t wait to dig in!

              • At 2012.02.07 22:37, Sheila (Book Journey) said:

                I had to read your review as I received this one recently too…

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