REVIEW: The Lost Madonna by Kelly Jones
Dear Ms Jones,
Last year I wrote you a letter about your first book, “The Seventh Unicorn.” Now, in your second book, you explore an art area close to my heart, Renaissance Italy, and include much more romance than in the first book.
Thirty years after leaving Florence with a broken heart, Suzanne Cunningham is thrilled to finally be going back to teach art history. But preparing for her course, she comes across something she never expected. A book reveals that a small but significant painting, Madonna and Child, was destroyed in the flood of 1966. But Suzanne knows this isn’t true. She knows, because with the help of her former lover, Stefano, she rescued it-after the infamous flood…
Now back in the magical city that once captured her heart, Suzanne is determined to solve the mystery of what happened to that priceless painting-and to the man who forever changed the course of her life …
While this book does have more romance in it, it’s still mainly a women’s fiction style of book and focuses on Suzanne, an older woman, and her history with Florence and art. As mentioned in an Amazon review, the city itself becomes a character in the book and is one I can tell you know and love. And not just for the magnificent art but the people, coffeehouses, local stores, and bridges which span the Arno River whose record flooding in 1966 is the basis for the whole story. And let me tell you as a woman whose own house got semi-flooded from a hurricane, you got the smell part of it down pat.
I like the way that Suzanne’s hunt for the painting turns into searching for her own past. In order to find some things, she has to let go of others and move on. She comes full circle to and in Florence, the city that started her love of art, her career and which ends up giving her the love she’s always wanted. Her investigations seem realistic for an art history professor and I thought you balanced that well with the romantic elements of the story. Your choice of Masolino to be the painter of the “lost” Madonna and Child was inspired. As I took breaks from reading the story, I Googled images of his surviving work and sat transfixed by the images of the Brancacci Chapel.
“The Lost Madonna” might be a little dry for readers looking for a straight romance but for readers searching for something a little different, a setting that’s beautiful as well as novel, a love that’s touching in addition to being sensual, this ought to be a book they consider. B