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Publisher's Summary

An exciting, dual-timeline historical novel about the creation of one of Leonardo da Vinci's most famous paintings, Portrait of a Lady with an Ermine, and the woman who fought to save it from Nazi destruction during World War II.

Milan, 1492: When a 16-year-old beauty becomes the mistress of the Duke of Milan, she must fight for her place in the palace - and against those who want her out. Soon, she finds herself sitting before Leonardo da Vinci, who wants to ensure his own place in the ducal palace by painting his most ambitious portrait to date.

Munich, World War II: After a modest conservator unwittingly places a priceless Italian Renaissance portrait into the hands of a high-ranking Nazi leader, she risks her life to recover it, working with an American soldier, part of the famed Monuments Men team, to get it back. Two women, separated by 500 years, are swept up in the tide of history as one painting stands at the center of their quests for their own destinies.

©2020 Laura Morelli (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about The Night Portrait

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Narration almost a deal breaker

I like the idea of the history of this Masterpiece. The dramatic back and forth between threads of the story not to mention time period is ham handed. The narration must be a computer. Do you think?

6 people found this helpful

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Marvelous masterpiece

This is a well performed and well written book regarding the history of DaVinci and one of his much loved portraits. As well as WWII's the Monument's Men of which is just becoming more widely known. The story is also weaved through the eyes of a young woman trying to protect and survive the only way she can in a world gone crazy in war torn Germany and Poland.

Laura Morelli does a fantastic job weaving the lines of history through one famous portrait and making the reader/listener feel the emotions of each of her characters. A wonderful read for anyone interested in reading a marvelous story!

5 people found this helpful

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The shifting point of views between the allied forces and the Germans as well as the interspersing of time periods

I loved the themes or art and life woven into a tale of multiple characters lives ranging from an American soldier and a German art restorer during WWII. The story of Cecilia and the Duke of Milan ran parallel and reflects the timelessness of love and art. All the characters were easy to like and inspiring in their struggles.

4 people found this helpful

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Beautifully written novel

The only thing that endures is love and art...if a piece of art has ever viscerally moved you, as the Lady with a Ermine affects me, you will thoroughly enjoy this book. I now feel as if I know Cecilia and what drew Leonardo to depict her likeness in such beauty...3 timelines converge to save the painting and restore her to her rightful place for thousands to appreciate her in centuries to come.

4 people found this helpful

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The Night Portrait

I wasn’t so sure at the beginning of the book if I would enjoy it. I ended up loving it. I learned a lot about art and found myself looking up art pieces and artist while listening to this book. Great story line. Grateful for the men and women who risked their lives so we could all enjoy the beauty and history that these paintings have to offer.

2 people found this helpful

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I struggled to finish, and gave up.

I love stories about the Momuments Men; the narration of Dominic, however, drove me absolutely batty. So sorry, but the theatrics were too much for me. I will find a paper copy and read the book. Sorry whoever you are; my voice would probably bother you likewise.

2 people found this helpful

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Important Story of Nazi Looting of Europe’s Art

The primary story here about the Nazi looting of Europe’s art is an important one to tell and is told well. The story of the Monument Men is worth telling. The book also raises the question of the value of art; is it worth sacrificing lives (or risking lives) to save it from the hands of villains? That is an important ethical question to ask and is not simple to answer. The author used a technique that I’ve been finding more and more in historical fiction - switching back and forth in time and between narrators. I think it was overdone in this book, and in some cases not necessary. In some cases it should not have been done at all. I have the impression that the author did research for the book, and then wanted to include it all in one book. But there are really two different stories here, and other than the connection of Da Vinci’s painting, they are not connected. Sometimes, the author tried to find some commonality, for example in Cecilia’s story and Edith’s story, since both were under the thumbs of strong men. But there really is no comparison between their circumstances and how they got there. Cecilia was a naive young woman who put herself in the situation she was in. Edith was ordered by the Nazi regime. (And, BTW, the author makes it appear like your typical German was really anti-Nazi, which is not so.) Hearing about Da Vinci’s inventions is really not relevant to the story, even if the author tried to find some connecting thread. Sure, Da Vinci is an interesting character, but save him for another book. Information about the woman in the painting could be given as brief background. Save Cecilia’s (fictionalized) story for a book about Da Vinci. I would have preferred more fleshing out of the WWII story and the rescue of art. Are there discussions about the ethical side of sending US soldiers into dangerous areas to rescue it? Did any generals discuss this at the time? It could be an important conversation to add. The US has much more recently fought an enemy who made it their business to destroy art and monuments (the Taliban destroyed priceless treasures), so the subject is relevant - is it the job of US soldiers to protect these? To risk their lives for these? Instead, the author was all over the place, bringing us back to the 15th century to read about Cecilia’s life as a mistress to a duke in Milan. That story was written decently, but it should not have been in the same book. The narration is a mixed bag - there are multiple narrators, some better, some less good. Overall, I’d recommend the book because of the important topic of the Nazi looting of Europe’s art.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Loved the beauty of this book

Against the backdrop of Nazi Germany and 15th century Italy, two remarkable women emerge to show us why art matters so deeply to our souls. Researched, crafted and woven together this is a gorgeous book. Be patient with it because like a beautiful work of art, it takes time to reveal and capture the reader.

2 people found this helpful

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Interesting and Informative Read

I enjoyed this story and how the author wove in the possible origins of the Lady with Ermine painting into to story about the Nazis' grab of priceless artwork during WWII. I knew about Hitler's desire to collect art but had no idea of the extent of it

2 people found this helpful

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great insight into person behind portrait

clever mix of generational links and fun to learn about monument men and women. Writing simple.

2 people found this helpful