This is a story about love, betrayal, loss and forgiveness. The main character, Alice, is a British ex-pat who grew up in Florence, and married Claudio, a titled Italian, albeit a poor one. Together they rescue a farm in Tuscany and raise their young son there. As World War II engulfs Italy, Alice begins a foolish affair and was busy seeing to her own needs when her young son falls ill and dies. Despairing, she believes she is being punished for her misdeeds, but still longs to reconcile with her husband, who disappears before she can do so.
I received an advance review copy of this book from the publisher. I am free to say exactly what I think, and I am not required to write a good review. That said, this book is so good, I can’t say enough positive things about it! For starters, Olafsson chooses subjects that I really enjoy. Tuscany, Europe during World War II, and Nazi art theft. What could be more intriguing? Then, he presents two amazing stories that intertwine and connect so adeptly. I loved how the author presents the main character as a narrator, as if she is speaking to her missing husband. The author uses wonderful imagery to place the reader in Tuscany and yet, as you’re relishing the place you have found yourself in, you are left disturbed and unsettled as the war encroaches upon you.
The only thing I would change about this book is the title. While Restoration refers to a painting, the word itself has multiple meanings, and so might deter someone from picking up this book. Also, when I tried to search for the book on Goodreads, there were so many other books that came up with this name, that it took quite a while to find it. It would be too bad if this book were overlooked because of the title. It’s definitely one worth reading!
4 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2012