What a delightful surprise this book has been: a shy, timid governess experiences one amazing day that is nothing like her boring, monotonous life, and she experiences what life can be, if you just dare to live it. It's an absolute gem! Can't wait to see the movie!
Based on the true story of Lord and Lady Elgin, who saved the Parthenon marbles from probable destruction during the Ottoman occupation, and transported them to England despite great costs and troubles. The story is intertwined with a story of the building of the Parthenon and the sculpting of the actual marbles. The two women starring in these two paraller tales are strong and independent, and fight hard to make it in a man's world. I think there's some possibilities here for a really good story, but the author's decision to stick to the real life story of Lady Elgin made it only an OK story that seems repetitive at the end. It was still pretty good and worth the read.
I listened to it for an hour and couldn't continue because the narrator put me to sleep.
One of the things I like about Roberts' longer novels is her knack for creating loveable characters with some nice details. To create 3 story lines with 6 mains characters would have neccessitated a much longer book, if done right, or according to her better standard (see Homeport, for instance, which is my favorite Roberts novel). The story is still fun; you just don't get as attached to these characters as you might to some of her others, nor do you enjoy them as much.
Listen to the free sample and know that this book is full of similar detailed descriptions of heinous crimes and gory diseases. I was expecting to read about art in the romantic Italy of the past and I couldn't listen for more than 2.5 hours. As a writer, the only value I can gain from this book is as a contrast to other similar books. Listen to Karen Essex's Leonardo's Swan and then to this book and see, how at every turn and with every choice the author makes, one can be a romantic (like Essex) or a naturalist (like Dunant). Personally, I prefer the former. I get enough gory crimes from the news.
A strong principled but introverted heroine finds herself forced to work with a dashing, rambunctious thief in order to unravel the mysterious art thefts and forgeries surrounding her.
In my opinion this is one of Roberts's best novels: no supernatural stuff, nothing too gory or dark, and what it does contain is wonderful: two very different characters who challenge one another, fabulous works of art, many mysterious crimes and lots of beautiful locals. It's romantic, very sexy and funny. I might just listern to it all over again! The narrator did a pretty good job, too.
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