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Madonna of the Almonds, The Paperback – 14 May 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: BEAUTIFUL BOOKS; Reprint edition (14 May 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905636431
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905636433
  • Product Dimensions: 12.5 x 2.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 449,107 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Praise for Marina Fiorato:

'A great read'

(Best)

'Captures the scents, passion and vigour of Italy' (Books Quarterly)

'Fiorato creates her own masterpiece' (Booklist)

'Mesmerising' (Waterstones Books Quarterly)

'Recommended' (Good Book Guide)

'A sizzling . . . read, and a must to pack in the suitcase' (Italian Magazine)

'The enchanting tale . . . is rich with passion, mystery and intrigue' (Booktime) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

The second unforgettable historical love story set in Italy from Marina Fiorato, author of the bestselling THE GLASSBLOWER OF MURANO. For fans of Philippa Gregory, Sarah Dunant and Alison Weir.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Algernon Flowers on 22 Nov. 2009
Format: Paperback
In the early 16th century, a brash, womanising but talented young artist studying under Da Vinci, has to leave town in a hurry, fleeing from a cuckolded husband. Twenty years later, he commences a great religious fresco using a reluctant and recently widowed beauty as his Madonna and a strange love affair develops. In a parallel story, a young orphan girl believes she has seen her future husband when his reflection appears in a well. She describes him to her `grandmother' and they bring the ragged mute to their home and here too, comes love. Each story is told in memorable scenes and the narrative contains many vivid characters. This story of art, beauty and love is suffused with all three for there is art and beauty in the writing and obvious love of her subject by this talented author. At the heart of the story lies truth for the artist is Bernadino Luini and the fresco and its Madona can still be seen in Saronna. Apart from a maybe doubtful climax which had echoes of 'Lord Jim' about it, this was a pair of love stories beautifully interwoven.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By M. Cherry on 30 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a beautifully writen novel set in Renaissance Italy and a skilful blend of fact and fiction. One of the attractions of the novel is the well researched setting and the weaving of the fiction into the factual historical background. The story is brilliantly constructed and the characters have depth and passion which makes the reader care about them. Fiorato introduces them skilfully and builds them for us so they are thoroughly believeable.
This is a story about love, art, the struggle against adversity, religious intollerance and about making sacrifices. Bernadino Luini, the apprentice of Leonardo da Vinci meets and falls in love with Simonetta di Saronno - a noblewoman who has been widowed by the wars. She has fallen upon hard times, so agrees to let Luini paint her as the Madonna in one of his frescoes. So the story begins. Fiorato crafts her story skilfully and it is a thoroughly enjoyable read.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Mary Contrary on 17 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback
I read this book on holiday.... It's a fantastic read. A great page turner. Couldn't put it down. It's really well researched and the art history became an interest all of its own alongside the storyline. The author has a vast knowledge of history, art history and religious history, it's gives the book an added layer, all too often a depth that's missing. She leads the reader through the story, explaining the context and history, not by way of distraction, but by way of moving the story forward, intriguing. Lads, there is a little romance in it, but it's not soppy at all so don't be put off. The author is not shy of character or dialogue. And the central character is a strong but human woman who you immediately relate to. I highly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ann E on 8 Nov. 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Marina Fiorato's books are really good holiday fare. A gripping adventure and a romance. The Madonna of the Almonds is a bit like an Italian fairy story - including fairytale castles and the old woman living in the forest. But for those that love that kind of fantasy and love Italy, it's an easy pleasurable read with lots of exciting moments and sufficient complexity to keep the reader gripped, but not so complicated that you lose track. One of Fiorato's strengths is weaving in bits of Italian history to her novels and this gives the book a richness that this sort of tale would otherwise lack. Find yourself a nice relaxing chair, a sun drenched Italian terrace, a glass of chilled white wine and drink this book down. I did.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Annabel Gaskell VINE VOICE on 19 May 2009
Format: Paperback
Lovers of historical romances will not be disappointed in Marina Fiorato's follow-up to her super debut The Glassblower of Murano.

Her second novel is set in Lombardy, specifically Saronno - home to the famous liqueur Amaretto, and the story behind the creation of that exotic tipple is the inspiration for the novel. In the early 1500s a church in Saronno commissioned frescoes from one of Leonardo Da Vinci's students - Bernardino Luini. Luini needed a model for the Madonna and a young widowed innkeeper posed for him - and became his lover. To thank him, she created Amaretto from apricot kernels steeped in brandy, and the legend was born.

Bernardino Luini is real - his work can be seen in museums around the world, and his frescoes of the Madonna in Saronno, and the Saints in a Milanese monastery exist. The latter in particular are said to be particularly fine and equal in skill to that of his master. Apart from his art, not much is known of his life, so the author was able to create a strong narrative involving him and the Amaretto legend.

The author has made the widow of this tale a young noblewoman, Simonetta, forced into straightened circumstances after her husband's premature death in battle. With no money in the coffers, she may be forced to borrow money from a Jew, but in Manodorato the local moneylender, she finds a friend who persuades her to try to make some money rather than borrow. She reluctantly agrees to pose for the painter, a known philanderer and unbeliever, and of course he falls in love with his muse and she begins to have feelings too - however she's still meant to be in mourning.
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