Thursday, November 20, 2014

#96 : Boticelli's Bastard by Stephen Maitland Lewis : A Review & Giveaway!

BOOK TITLE: Botticelli’s Bastard

AUTHOR: Stephen Maitland - Lewis

GENRE: Fiction – Historical/Paranormal


FORMAT: Paperback


REVIEW BY: Shree Janani

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Review Copy as a part of Italy Book Tours

SUMMARY : 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.


A fiction with some paranormal activity and a bit of history thrown in is a rather explosive combination. The paranormal activity delivers packs the punches, while the history tends to either amplify or soften the impact. This book could as well fit this category rather well.

Art restorer, Fabrizzi stumbles upon an enchanting painting from his dad’s inheritance while searching for the perfect gift for his acquaintance’s nephew. The painting “claims” that it has painted by the famous painter Sandro Botticelli - The supernatural element that packed that punch effortlessly. The history of ownership of this painting is quite “scandalous” – Thereby amplifying the punch that the supernatural element packed. Readers would be inclined to question as to how the history of owner ship of an unsigned painting could possibly create a stir. Link it with holocaust and Herr Hitler. Anything will create a stir. Thrown in infidelity and a family reunion with a long-lost doddering uncle and la – a nice spiced up fiction ready to be devoured by a true fiction lover.

Loosing that trite writing isn’t easy. The narration has to be compelling and the story line should be able to accommodate such a compulsive. The writer seems to have nailed both the story and the narration. Needless to say, his style of writing is just apt for such a story.

Portraying complex emotions of holocaust survivors is a herculean task. Writing about a major man-made disaster without having a first-hand experience adds more difficulty to the already difficult task. This writer has aced that part of the story. It is rather obvious that the writer has conducted considerable research on the Hitler era and the on various paintings.

The characterisation was perfect. Fabrizzi’s character progression is remarkable. The Italian lineage simply adds charm. After all, who can resist good old dramatic Italians.  The count’s (the painting’s) character which can be tricky to portray has been handled rather exceptionally.  
The romance thread of the plot could have been written better. It lacked that conviction of a jilted husband who discovers his newly wed wife having illicit affair.

The painting on the cover is worth a mention. The subject of the painting looks highly egoistic just as portrayed in the book. The book was packaged perfectly – a good quality paperback as much as the story in itself.

To sum it up, the book is a perfect fiction packaged well.

VERDICT: Try reading it. It’s almost perfect.

RATING:4 on 5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: 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


PRICE: Rs.375 (Kindle)


Note : This review was first posted in Readers' Muse

1 comment:

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