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The Madonna of the Almonds [Kindle Edition]

Marina Fiorato
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

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

Bernardino Luini, favoured apprentice of Leonardo da Vinci, is commissioned to paint a religious fresco in the hills of Lombardy. His eye is caught by the beautiful Simonetta di Saronno, a young noblewoman who has lost her husband to battle, and whose fortune is gone. Captivated by her beauty and sadness, Bernardino paints Simonetta's likeness, immortalizing her as the Madonna in his miraculous frescoes in Saronno's church. As the sittings progress, artist and model fall in love, and Simonetta reciprocates Luini's genius by creating a drinnk for her lover from the juice of almonds - the famous Amaretto di Saronno.

As the frescoes and the liqueur near their completion, the couple's affair distils into a heady brew of religious scandal which threatens their love, and ultimately their lives. Who is the mysterious Jew with a golden hand? And how does a mute young soldier affect Simonetta's destiny?

Product Description


Praise for Marina Fiorato:

'A great read'


'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)

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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 784 KB
  • Print Length: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton (19 July 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008E768MU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #35,879 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Romance is an art 22 Nov. 2009
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written and engaging 30 Jun. 2009
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Sit back and enjoy the read... 17 Oct. 2009
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Madonna of the Almonds 22 Oct. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
By Marina Fiorato. Another of her fabulous novels. I have found it most entertaining, better than one or two of the others.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great comfort read of an historical romance 19 May 2009
By Annabel Gaskell VINE VOICE
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A second stunner for Marina Fiorato 10 July 2009
After reading The Glassblower of Murano, I wondered if a second book could possibly live up to it! Guess what? It did! I was in the book with the characters, living their hardships, their loves, seeing the scenery - absolutely stunningly well written. I really need to know when a third book might be released, I can't get enough of this lady's writing.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic summer read 1 Jun. 2009
I thoroughly enjoyed this book more so than the Glassblower of Murano. There were so many fascinating characters each with their own story to tell. I enjoyed the rich descriptions of art, history and the stories of the Saints and I loved the message of how love and faith can conquer all. Another immensely satisfying read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Lovely book!
Published 8 months ago by MaggieMay
5.0 out of 5 stars Another best seller, I think.
Since reading "The Glass Blowers of Murano" I was hooked and have now read all her books of this type and loved them all. Read more
Published 10 months ago by AndyM
5.0 out of 5 stars exellent book
tahnk you very much for sending soon.It is an exellent book.I love it.I would like to order next time. maybe.
Published 16 months ago by Mauve
4.0 out of 5 stars mediaeval tale
A good read but a bit stilted at times. I enjoy the link up with frescoes. I like the fairy tale aspects and the links with Lives of the Saints as I am interested particularly in... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Margaret Lough
4.0 out of 5 stars A variation of Martin Guerre
This is quite a complex story involving a young lord, his wife, an arrogant young artist and a young peasant girl. Read more
Published 19 months ago by misty meanor
5.0 out of 5 stars Devoured it!
An amazing book (although all books by Marina Fiorato I manage to devour easily) which has an extraordinary ability to be an easy read (I did it in one sitting! Read more
Published 20 months ago by Ally
4.0 out of 5 stars s smith
I enjoy Marina Fioratos books and this one is no exception. It is a pleasant romp, not too taxing but that's the beauty of it. Read more
Published 24 months ago by S. Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, beautiful, painful, amazing story telling at its best.
Gripping, beautiful, painful. amazing story telling at its best. This really is the most wonderful book based on history although fictional.
Published on 13 Jan. 2013 by Sarah Speed
3.0 out of 5 stars As usual a good page turner
Marina Fiorato has again found the good balance between History and history. There is always a bit of love in the air to maintain our attention and it worked for me. Read more
Published on 7 Jan. 2013 by Lamaline
3.0 out of 5 stars Ok story
Not as good as Mariana Fiorato's other books which kept my attention from start to finish. I didn't enjoy the story at all.
Published on 31 Dec. 2012 by mary
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