11 February, 2017

Stolen Beauty by Laurie Lico Albanese Review!

From the dawn of the twentieth century to the devastation of World War II, this exhilarating novel of love, war, art, and family gives voice to two extraordinary women and brings to life the true story behind the creation and near destruction of Gustav Klimt’s most remarkable paintings.

In the dazzling glitter of 1903 Vienna, Adele Bloch-Bauer—young, beautiful, brilliant, and Jewish—meets painter Gustav Klimt. Wealthy in everything but freedom, Adele embraces Klimt’s renegade genius as the two awaken to the erotic possibilities on the canvas and beyond. Though they enjoy a life where sex and art are just beginning to break through the façade of conventional society, the city is also exhibiting a disturbing increase in anti-Semitism, as political hatred foments in the shadows of Adele’s coffee house afternoons and cultural salons.

Nearly forty years later, Adele’s niece Maria Altmann is a newlywed when the Nazis invade Austria—and overnight, her beloved Vienna becomes a war zone. When her husband is arrested and her family is forced out of their home, Maria must summon the courage and resilience that is her aunt’s legacy if she is to survive and keep her family—and their history—alive.

Will Maria and her family escape the Nazis’ grip? And what will become of the paintings that her aunt nearly sacrificed everything for?

Impeccably researched and a “must-read for fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Paula McLain’s Circling the Sun” (Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author), Stolen Beauty intertwines the tales of two remarkable women across more than a hundred years. It juxtaposes passion and discovery against hatred and despair and shines a light on our ability to love, to destroy, and above all, to endure.

Laurie Lico Albanese is the author of STOLEN BEAUTY, a novel about love, art, courage and war that illuminates the intimate lives of two remarkable Viennese women whose fates and awakenings are bound by Gustav Klimt and his golden portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer.

She is co-author of THE MIRACLES OF PRATO, a novel about the Renaissance painter Fra Filippo Lippi, written with Laura Morowitz.

Her memoir in verse, BLUE SUBURBIA: ALMOST A MEMOIR, was a finalist for The Paterson Poetry Prize in 2004.

This historical novel is about Adele Bloch-Bauer who was the wife of Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, a sugar baron who supported the arts. Gustav Klimt was the painter who immortalized Adele twice in his paintings. This story is based on real characters but fictionalized so as such in this story not only did Gustav paint Adele but they had an affair. 

The novel takes place in alternate era's, early 1900's and WWII, told by Adele and her niece Maria Altman. Adele's portraits hung in the Bloch-Bauer household in Austria but were seized by the Nazi's and then they were in the Austrian Museum after the war. Through alternating chapters, we are given a glimpse into the lives of this family and what happened to them during the war and the Nazi's. During the reign of the Nazi's, they took into possession of valuable art, jewels and anything else of value from the Jews. This plunder took place from 1933 and through the end of the war in European countries. 

Adele had stated in her will that she wanted to have the two paintings of her done by Klimt, donated to the Austrian Museum. After Ferdinand died, his own will indicated that the paintings were to be retained within the family, thus Maria Altman took the case to the American courts against the Austrian government and won the case and now the paintings are at the Neue Galerie in New York City.

Not only is this story about a family torn by a horrendous war, it is about the love of family, art, and survival. I really enjoyed this story, it is amazing to me, even after all of the books I have read of the Nazi's how destructive and demoralizing they really were to the Jews and others who were not Aryan. If you are looking for a great historical fiction to read, take a look at Stolen Beauty. 

This review is voluntary.

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