Sunday, March 25, 2018

#602: Waking Isabella by Melissa Muldoon : Review

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Having read this writer's previous work, I was quite sure that I was in for a treat of rich vivid descriptions. This book indeed turned out to be a treat! The story is about Leonora (Nora) - a researcher who is recovering from a broken marriage. She travels to Italy to do a documentary on a Medici princess - Isabella. The princess is quite inspirational which makes Nora pack up her bags to document her life. She also ends up reconnecting with her friend in Italy.

As she lands in Italy she meets Luca, an antique shop owner who tells her about a painting of Isabella with her mother which belonged to their family but has gone missing. The story now shifts to Luca's grandmother who helped smuggle paintings in order to save them from Nazi destruction. The rest of the story is about the connection between this three women and the mystery of the missing painting.

The writer evidently has done quite a bit of research about Italy, it's landscapes, it's history and artists. The history part of the book sounds so authentic and is done to perfection. The story as such is great but the book can be a little difficult to read because of the language and the subject in hand. However, if one is eager to know more about Italian language and culture, this book is a perfect read.

Writing wise, the story is a mixed bag for me. The writer has put in a lot of effort to distinguish between the voices of three women. I could connect really well with Isabella's story and partly with that of Margherita's story, but Nora's story was quite bland and paled out in comparison with that of Isabella/Margherita's. The other peeve point I had was with the liberal usage of Italian phrases - The story did need it, but at places the translation was missing. Nevertheless, this could be overlooked as it brought in that authenticity to that story.

In short, this is a beautiful and well written tale of lost love, friendship, betrayal and the vagaries of a relationship.
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