Book Review: Botticelli’s Bastard by Stephen Maitland-Lewis

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About the Book:

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.

Stephen Maitland-Lewis

Meet the author: (Photo credit: Nathan Sternfeld)

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.

Connect with Stephen: Website – Facebook – Twitter

My review:

I found the main character to be a likeable fellow, Giovanni, an art restorer who feels somewhat displaced, having lost his beloved wife of many years as well as his studio and neighbourhood that he had grown to love.  His new marriage to a beautiful, young woman is foundering because he has yet to come to terms with his grief. He feels isolated in his misery until “will someone take me out of this dark crate!”

Giovanni finds himself face-to-face with Count Marco Lorenzo Pietro de Medici supposedly painted by the infamous Sandro Botticelli.  At first he is disturbed by a “talking portrait” but becomes intrigued by the stories the Count tells about his former owners.

The dialogue between Giovanni and the Count are full of wit and humour.  It is ultimately the Count who helps Giovanni come to terms with his past, his present and his future.

A good book for those who enjoy art, history and a bit of romance thrown it.  Easily read in a day (I couldn’t put it down!)

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