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
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.