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3.55  ·  Rating Details  ·  577 Ratings  ·  118 Reviews
“A tremendous talent.”
Boston Globe

Restoration is an elegantly constructed work of fiction, seamlessly moving between the past and the present.”
—Ron Rash, bestselling author of Serena

Acclaimed novelist Olaf Olafsson brings us Restoration, a sweeping story of love tested by human frailty and the terrors and tragedies of war. Departing from the landscapes of his native Icel
ebook, 336 pages
Published February 7th 2012 by Ecco (first published 1994)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,383)
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Violet wells
I imagine researching and organising your material would be one of the most exciting challenges of writing a historical novel. Obviously this wasn’t the case for Olaf Olafsson. He decided to save time and energy by simply shoplifting wholesale the fabulous memoirs of Iris Origo. He steals her house and her wartime experiences to give his novel its structure and heart and then, to add insult to injury, invents an adultery on her part to commercially liven things up. I suppose if you have no knowl ...more
Jan 15, 2012 Cynthia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first and last chapters of “Restoration” are absolute gems with Olafsson’s painterly descriptions of Italian countryside and his portrayals of human anguish. The first chapter lures you into the story, the last chapter satisfies. This is not to say the story lags in between. It doesn’t but there is a dreamlike cadence to how things unfold, for instance one of the main characters isn’t named until about a third of the way through the book. Other characters are only glimpsed through memories. ...more
Now this is a great summer read. Not only is it beautiful to hold (Ecco imprint, thick deckled pages, only 336 pages in a 5-5/15 x 8 inch format), but the words just made me want to slow down and savor. The characters in this book were making their dreams come alive: a wealthy woman uses her ample funds to get her hands dirty restoring an old villa on a wind-swept mountain in Tuscany, and a penniless, parentless artist finds her calling restoring the paintings of old masters in Rome.

A mysterious painting, war-torn Italy, orphans, ex-pats, traitors, death of a beloved, hints of romance – this novel has all the earmarkings of a terrific story. And I did enjoy reading it. Having said that, it fell a little flat for me. If it was trying to be a mystery, there was not enough mystery. For a war story, there was not enough about the war. Ditto for the romance. As literary fiction, it just didn't shine as it could have. For my tastes, the book was going in too many directions at on ...more
Feb 06, 2012 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, art
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 he ...more
Olafson lepim jezikom i stilom gradi pricu oko jednog postupka jedne osobe. Svaki lik romana na neki nacin biva dotaknut tim postupkom, sto je mene samo podsetilo na to da se u svetu nista ne desava izolovano i bez posledica. Ono sto mi se posebno svidelo jesu opisi unutrasnjih zivota i psiholoski "profili" svakog od likova. Iako zahvaceni ratom zivoti svih njih se nastavljaju i svakodnevne stvari i prosli problemi nisu zaboravljeni i ostavljeni po strani vec gledamo kako ih svako ponaosob obrad ...more
Virginia Campbell
It has been a while since I have read a book where the overall story was the star, and the characters were necessary components to reach the final page. I enjoyed "Restoration", by Olaf Olafsson, very much. The human failings and strengths of each character add shaded complexities to the horrific World War II story line. The contrast of the settings of glorious Tuscany and the destruction from bombing, killing and marauding invaders is piercing. There is no hero or heroine in this story, but a c ...more
Mar 05, 2012 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
With a title like RESTORATION, it’s no surprise that at the center of the story, there is a restoration…in this case, a forgery of an esteemed Caravaggio painting by a young talented artist named Kristin who is spurned in love by her master.

That master restorer, Marshall, a man of dubious ethics, says: “No canvas lasts more than two centuries. If left alone, they all turn into dust. Those who think that art restoration is simply dusting and cleaning exhibit incredible naivete. Interpreters, Kri
Holly Weiss

How do we live with the consequences of our actions?

Alice, a wealthy English girl, marries Claudio Orsini, ten years her senior, much to the horror of her parents. With naïve optimism, Alice and Claudio purchase a 3500-acre tumbledown Tuscan villa. Having entered a life she knows nothing about, Alice copes by teaching illiterate children.

Copenhagen Royal Academy of Art graduate, Kristin, travels to Italy to sketch the great sculptures. Marshall, a restorer of paintings, takes her under his wing.
Feb 20, 2012 Valentina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book took me by surprise. I really did not expect something so deep and moving, something so well written. I’d actually been reluctant to pick it up, because I thought it would be one of those books focused solely on World War II, but I’m so glad I did end up giving it a chance.
There are two interconnecting plot lines: Kristin’s and Alice’s. The book goes back and forth in time (think The English Patient, not Time Traveler’s Wife) in such a masterful way that the reader is never confused. O
Like Far From Here, this is told in a combination of first and third person; the first person episodes are either a diary entry or conversation between Alice and her husband Claudio, who disappeared shortly after their son died. Set in Tuscany during the waning days of World War II, the title has several meanings - the restoration of the villa and farms at San Martino, the restoration work Kristin does on paintings, the restoration of peace, and possibly the restoration of Alice's life to someth ...more
Feb 09, 2012 Jaylia3 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A picturesquely described Italian countryside is the setting for this WWII novel of love and betrayal, as the Allied armies are gaining ground, and the farmhouse where most of the action takes place is gradually but inexorably becoming the front line of battle. There are two main characters, both women, Kristin an artist and restorer of damaged but valuable paintings, who is Icelandic like the author, and Alice, an English expatriate who married an Italian man against her family’s wishes and the ...more
Jul 08, 2012 Meg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is really interesting that this book was written by Olaf Olafsson. Here is an Icelandic man writing (very convincingly) in the voices of two women, one English, one Icelandic, in Italy, a setting far outside of his own experience. I was surprised to read the book jacket after finishing it - I had assumed it had to be a woman. I was also surprised to discover that he is the Vice President of Time Warner. How does he have the time to write books? In his spare time!? Maybe it's that Icelandic ef ...more
Nov 21, 2015 Aleksandar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Moglo bi se reći da je ovaj roman, uz mnogo drugih kvaliteta, svojevrsna meditacija odnosa umetničke i faktičke istine. Bez linearnog toka pripovedanja, sa promenljivom narativnom vizurom, događaji se nižu unutrašnjom logikom doživljaja aktera. Veoma složena kompozicija koja čini da priči prilazite iznutra, subjektivnom logikom razgovora sa njenim likovima. Ovo čini čitaoca veoma motivisanim. Verovatno i u svakodnevnom životu, kada ste u susretu sa zagonetkom priče koju odgonetate, ne sledite li ...more
Laine Cunningham
Jun 30, 2014 Laine Cunningham rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This work started out well with the first chapter. It provided an intense moment, showed the characters' personalities well, and promised much. Then it collapsed. The narrative switched into second person, which is technically very difficult to maintain.
The narrative also became much less compelling. The character's backstory wasn't compelling, and the writing wasn't strong enough to make up for it. It became confusing due to the number of people mentioned; without any direction from the author
Aug 08, 2015 Christine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyed this book. I picked it up in the bargain books back in late May because the title was intriguing and it was based in one of my favorite time periods, WW 2. It turned out to be an excellent read. I esp liked that it included some "monuments men" within the story line. I enjoyed the tale of Alice and Kirsten and how their stories were parallel but distinct, each in their own way. Each women is haunted by a past decision, intersect, but each still goes on with their life. The des ...more
Aug 07, 2014 Diane rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was pretty disappointed with this novel. It sounded interesting - Alice, an Englishwoman, marries the son of an Italian landowner, and begins restoring a Tuscan villa. During World War II, Alice grows restless and has a relationship that opens her up to blackmail from an unscrupulous art dealer named Robert Marshall. He forces her to hide a priceless painting by Caravaggio, in her villa. Meanwhile, Alice opens her home to refugees, orphans, and wounded allied soldiers. To complicate matters fu ...more
Vivian Valvano
May 23, 2012 Vivian Valvano rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am so glad that my friend Rosanne recommended this novel to me. Its focus is late-World War II Italy, but there are frequent flashbacks to earlier years. I don't think Italy gets as much attention in fiction as other WW II locales; it gets more attention in film. I'd put this novel right alongside "Two Women" as meaningful tales of war. The narration beautifully combines several things: realistic (sometimes heartbreaking and sometimes ennobling) war details; complex personal stories, including ...more
The book is set in the peri-WWII timeframe in Italy. The story centers around two women, each with a secret involving relationships. Alice is an English ex-pat who surprises her family and peers by marrying an Italian. They buy a farm property in rough shape and work together to restore it, and have a young son. Alice becomes restless with her situation, missing the social aspects of her former life. On a visit to her mother, she encounters a childhood sweetheart and they begin a passionate affa ...more
Mar 20, 2012 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, vine, fiction
Among the steep hills of Italy, a remote villa and its inhabitants experience the encroaching war as Germans retreat and Allies advance upon their idyllic rural life. Alice, the mistress of the villa, is harboring a secret while tending to refugee children and supervising the wellbeing of her tenants in her husband’s absence. Kristin, a gifted artist and restoration specialist, has made her way to the estate in pursuit of Alice’s secret. Their two stories collide in a narrative filled with regre ...more
Debra Martin
Jan 23, 2016 Debra Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of two women, who even though they've never met, their lives will become intricately connected. English ex-patriate Alice shocks her family when she marries an older Italian, Claudio Orsini, and together they buy a rundown villa in Tuscany. While Alice initially immerses herself in the restoration of the villa, surrounding buildings and farmer tenants, it doesn’t take long before she misses the British social life in Rome. However, her actions at one of these parties will chang ...more
I interrupted this book to read others, so don't think that it took me the whole month to read it. Olafsson really packs alot into this (btw, I have to check if that's his real name). There's art and WWI and remodeling an Italian villa (shades of house hunters international here). I think he could have either expanded it at least another 100 pages, or eliminated one of the subplots and it still would have worked fine. If you're stretched for time, this is a great book to read and feel smart abou ...more
With exquisite pacing, Olaf Olafsson's RESTORATION combines a bit of WWII history with an unforgettable cast to weave a web of intrigue that involves the exploitation of two women by one charming and manipulative man

Alice and Kristin are the two women used and abused by the married Robert Marshall, an art restorer whose avarice leads him to willingly collaborate with the Germans in their accumulation and concealment of art during their occupation of Italy. Marshall lures the love-struck Kristin
Anne Broyles
This book’s World War II setting (an Italian farm where orphans and partisans are cared for) would have been enough for me, especially since this author wonderfully describes the Tuscan countryside. This is a beautifully written book, but I didn’t need subplots about Nazis hiding stolen art or multiple unfaithful marriages. I also didn’t need two interlocking stories written in first and third person (sometimes about the same person) that seemed to muddy the plot with too many coincidences.

Aug 14, 2013 Almira rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well, it's been more than a few days.

Time frame spans from 1920's to 1940's.

Alice Orsini leaves the exclusive circle of British ex-pats, marries the son of an Italian, minor landowner and takes on the task of restoring the crumblin villa - San Martino.

Robert Marshall is a renowned dealer of Renaissance art and has known Alice, and her indiscretion. He "blackmails" Alice into hiding a priceless Caravaggion, which he sold to the Germans.

Kristin, an art "prodigy" who can restore any painting, who
Oct 21, 2013 Yoka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
De weg naar San Martino is voor mij het eerste boek dat ik van deze schrijver lees. Olaf Olafsson werd internationaal bekend met zijn roman “Vergiffenis”. Zijn nieuwe boek speelt zich af in de eerste helft van de twintigste eeuw. Alice, een meisje uit een gefortuneerd Brits gezin en woonachtig in Florence, trouwt zeer tegen de zin van haar ouders met Claudio. Samen met deze zoon van een eenvoudige boer verhuist ze naar San Martino. Daar betrekken ze een vervallen villa die ze door hard werken we ...more
Susan Johnson
Mar 02, 2012 Susan Johnson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel literally took my breath away in its luminosity and elegant writing. This is the story of two women, Alice and Kristin, who lead very different lives but cross paths at several important times. They are not friends but their fates cross and the story alternates between the two women.
Alice grew up in a circle of British ex-pats in Florence in the 1920's. She fell in love with a titled man and they run off together to start a new life. They discover a rundown estate of 3500 acres in the
Aug 07, 2014 Pam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was 'ok'... even if I had the feeling I had read it before somewhere ... I had tagged it to read because it was mentioned ad I read Monuments Men or some such...I am so very impressed, awed in fact, by the stories - drama - of what it took to save the treasures of Europe/civilization, in fact. And sadden too by how much has been lost on other continents through our wars. None the less, this particular novelization of one of those stories ...was an 'interesting' twist.

Apr 12, 2013 Tonya rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-reads
Where have I been that I haven't found this author before now? This book really wowed me. Alice marries Claudio, not really what everyone expected from her. However, was she in love? Not sure!

Alice has an affair. Someone else knows, and so they blackmail her to keep this piece of artwork, thinking it is a valuable gem. BUT the joke is on him, because his lover was trying to embarrass him and it really isn't the real deal.

But Alice and Kristin's lives will collide and you will love what happens!
If you want to feel sad, depressed, or desolate after reading, then this is the book for you! A relatively short novel, Restoration is set in the Italian countryside, invaded by Germans, facing the arrival of the Allies in WWII. Aside from the damage, destruction and loss of war, the characters experience adultery, deceit, revenge, and the grief of losing a child. The title Restoration, beyond the literal restoration of artwork, gives hint to positive endings but I didn't feel positive after rea ...more
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Olaf Olafsson was born in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1962. He studied physics as a Wien Scholar at Brandeis University. He is the author of three previous novels, The Journey Home, Absolution and Walking Into the Night, and a story collection, Valentines. His books have been published to critical acclaim in more than twenty languages. He is the recipient of the O. Henry Award and the Icelandic Literary ...more
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