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The Ruby Ring

3.71  ·  Rating Details ·  959 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
From critically acclaimed historical novelist Diane Haeger comes The Ruby Ring, an unforgettable story of love, loss, and immortal genius . . .
Rome, 1520. The Eternal City is in mourning. Raphael Sanzio, beloved painter and national hero, has died suddenly at the height of his fame. His body lies in state at the splendid marble Pantheon. At the nearby convent of Sant'Apol
Paperback, 371 pages
Published April 5th 2005 by Three Rivers Press (CA) (first published 2005)
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Jean Marie
Feb 15, 2011 Jean Marie rated it really liked it
What a well needed dose of Italian Renaissance fiction this was for me. What a clever little writer Ms Haeger is. This book is very formulatic. Poor girl meets rich boy, attraction is there, sparks fly, he finds away to get her alone and eventually wears down her walls of saintliness and thus they become lovers though no one wants her to be in his life because he's "propery of politics". This is the story of Raphael Sanzio, an artist considered on par with Renaissance greats like Michaelangelo a ...more
Rio (Lynne)
Dec 30, 2011 Rio (Lynne) rated it it was ok
Raphael Sanzio and his mistress Margherita were real. The mystery of The Ruby Ring is fascinating, so why was this book not a page turner? This was one of those books I REALLY wanted to like and kept wondering if it was me. The story was boggled down with unimportant detail. I have read 3 other Haeger books and this was was my least favorite. She usually writes a pretty good story "fluff or not." The Courtesan is one of my all time favorites, but, this one was torture. Very slow and simply borin ...more
Sep 27, 2009 Synnin rated it really liked it
Pretending to be a historical fiction book, this one ends up being quite a plain and trite love romance with just worldwide known names as main characters: he's so rich & famous, she's so poor & ordinary, they fall in love but can't be married for various reasons. The writing style is pretty simple too (maybe it's Russian translation though), some events repeat over and over again, the bed scenes are somewhat terrible trite and even disguisting.... BUT there is something, obvously someth ...more
Stephanie Miller
May 28, 2012 Stephanie Miller rated it it was ok
I thought that I had picked up a historical fiction book, but instead what I found was a trite, poorly written romance. Poor character development failed to make the characters interesting or relatable. The author is constantly making the point that no one actually cared for the Master Artists, just about their creations and the legacy it left for the patron. I think Diane Haeger successfully beat that dead horse. The only thing to recommend this book is that it is a quick and easy beach read.
Apr 21, 2014 Carolyn rated it did not like it
Pretty disappointing. I love good historical fiction where you feel connected to the people and the life they lived..this book is essentially a Harlequin romance. The main characters could have been anyone. There was no depth to the major characters and I don't feel that I learned anything about Raphael, his art, or the times he lived through that wasn't superficially presented. It was such a tumultuous time with many major historical figures such as the Medicis, Michaelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci ...more
May 15, 2009 Linda rated it liked it
Shelves: hist-fic
The Ruby Ring is more romance novel than true historical fiction. If you aren't familiar with Raphael's artistic and personal history, it's a light and useful way to learn more, but it would have been nice to read about some other aspects of his relationship with Margherita beyond the bedroom - and the studio - and the kitchen - and - oh never mind. But one would think once in a while they might have done something else together.
Jul 27, 2007 Laura rated it did not like it
Disappointingly juvenile. For some reason, the dialogue sounds like something a high school girl would write, as do the character descriptions.

For example, "I did not actually believe it was him. Imagine! Well dressed or not, to pass himself off to anyone as the great artist," Margherita casually explained."
May 31, 2008 Saralyn rated it it was amazing
This is a great historicla novel with lots of romance and art history.
Mar 11, 2008 Karen rated it really liked it
Loved this book and the story behind the painting.
Amanda Morris
Feb 19, 2017 Amanda Morris rated it it was amazing
This book just yanked at my heart the whole time I was reading it. I love the intrigue and history of the era, and I'm a sucker for the kind of over-the-top, passionate love portrayed in this book. At first I was going to give it a 4, because there were a few parts that plodded along a bit. But when I was crying at the end I had to give it a 5.
I did like this book overall; it was an interesting depiction of the time period and the perks and hazards of being a great painter with commissions that need to be done especially when these commissions are from the Pope himself. As with other artists I’ve read about, Raphael became a bit obsessed with Margherita at the detriment to his work. I did feel bad for them in the end because of all the interference in their lives also the way Margherita was treated by these men in Raphael’s life espec ...more
Apr 30, 2014 Laura rated it liked it
I picked this book as my next read straight after reading "The Sidewalk Artist", which was a delightful time-slip novel set in the 21st century and the 16th century. The novel was essentially about the life and love of the famous Renaissance artist Raphael Sanzio. I felt as though I'd become really attached to the Raphael in Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk's "The Sidewalk Artist" and didn't feel quite ready to leave the character just yet, so, being one of the main protagonists in "The Ruby Ring" ...more
Jul 06, 2010 Amber rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Those interested in historical fiction about the Italian Renaissance and Raphael in particular.
This was a fairly quick read about the Italian artist, Raphael Sanzio, and his young mistress and poor baker’s daughter, Margherita Luti during the sixteenth century. One day, a chance meeting in the street ignites Raphael’s interest in Margherita as his new model for the Madonna and perhaps as something a bit more. After great reluctance and the urging of her family, Margherita relents and becomes the model for many of Raphael’s Madonnas as well as his lover. He wishes to marry her but cannot b ...more
Jan 04, 2011 Cara rated it liked it
Book Number Two! I have finally finished! Reading this took a lot longer than I had hoped and by Part Three I really just wanted it to end. SPOILERS!

Ever since Girl with a Pearl Earring was published, there have been a flood of historical fiction surrounding artists and famous paintings. I can't pretend to have read them all, but this was definitely not one of my favorites. Though it included some details of everyday life at the time in Rome, it lacked the completeness, the detail and the richne
Sep 17, 2014 Annette rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Author’s note: “The story is based on the actual discovery of a ruby ring that lay hidden for over five hundred years beneath a thin layer of paint on Raphael’s very sensual painting La Fornarina (The Baker’s Daughter). Who and why concealed it, may never be known. This novel explores one possible scenario.”

Set in the 16th century during a splendid era of the Italian Renaissance, Raphael at 31 is a very successful artist, who is dealing with more commissions than he can handle. He is in search o
Craig Masten
Feb 10, 2014 Craig Masten rated it it was ok
I have an affection for historical fiction, and especially on the subject of artists because I am one myself. This book about the life of Raphael and his time in Renaissance Rome does this as well as most, but it's also a romance novel, a genre for which I have an equal lack of affection. The author's portrayal of the painter's alleged affair with a poor bakers daughter as mistress and only true love is elaborated with all the vapid endearments and thrusting heaving gasping accounts of lovemakin ...more
May 14, 2011 Cindy rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Sheila
Recommended to Cindy by: Sara Beggs
Well, if I didn't read this for book club I probably would have never read it or even picked it up. And if I had picked it up on my own, I probably would not have finished it. The last 100 pages were the best when FINALLY things began to happen and the pace picked up. The descriptions were very rich, and I could easily picture myself in the story, but it just dragged.

I always appreciate historical fiction, and this one was based on a true story and for that I am happy I read it. I was reminded o
Linda Burke
Aug 10, 2013 Linda Burke rated it it was amazing
Loved this book.It dealt with the competition between Michaelangelo and Raphael. Didn't realize R did SO much work for the popes.Now I want to go to Rome! But, the main issue in the story was the incredible love R had for his model, Margherita. He loved her more than he loved art. He wore her down so that she loved him too.They never had children and never got the pope to permit their marriage since he was unhappily engaged to the niece of a cardinal. That niece would never let go although she k ...more
Cristina Contilli
Tra realtà storica e ricostruzione romanzata l'autrice ci fa entrare dentro alla Roma del '500 e soprattutto dentro al rapporto tra Raffaello e la sua musa, la figlia di un semplice fornaio, soprannominata per questo la Fornarina, bella, innamorata con il corpo e con il cuore del suo affascinante pittore di corte, anche se forse meno innocente di come voleva presentarsi all'uomo amato...

Io l'ho immaginata e reinterpretata così in un racconto che fa parte di un libro su cui sto lavorando:

Mirah W
Jul 22, 2011 Mirah W rated it really liked it
So frustrating! I really enjoyed reading the book but the subject matter is so frustrating for me...Raphael being refused marriage to the love of his live because she is a baker's daughter. I thought historically royal families were the master manipulators but I think Popes and Cardinals were just as bad. I found this novel to be interesting and on a subject matter I really didn't know a lot about. I loved some of the characters (especially Donato and Giulio) and only hope they were the same in ...more
Oct 28, 2008 Mara rated it liked it
Very little about this book rings true. Which is a shame, because it's a good story, but nearly every scene seems contrived and forced. A few of the scenes that actually deal with art and painting are better than others, but there are too few of those scenes. Once Raphael and Margherita get together, all of their interactions are much the same, with a few variations in words and emphasis. A potentially interesting addition to the painting-turned-novel genre, but not in the same league as some ot ...more
Mar 29, 2014 Andrea rated it did not like it
What a strangely-written, dull version of a story with so much intrigue. The wording was somehow off in most sentences, so I found myself re-reading almost everything on the pages! And if the author used "caro" or "mio" one more time I'd have thrown the book away! Her main character has so many contradictions that the only reason I knew it was the same person was that she was continually called Margherita. What a disappointment. I'm not sure why I even bothered to finish this book, except that i ...more
Alethea White-Previs
Jan 17, 2016 Alethea White-Previs rated it it was amazing
The seamless interweaving of history and fiction. Diane Haeger writes beautiful novels of "what if" to explain great love stories of the past. This one was achingly beautiful.

Knowing from the prologue how miserably things were going to turn out, but still having to and wanting to take the journey.

I have known much about the great Raphael or his life, and this was a great novel by which to get to know the human side of him (albeit a fictionalized version).
This was the perfect light read for me. This would be a great beach read, or for a day in front of a fire. There's a little sprinkling of history with a whole lot of romance. The good guys are good, and the bad guys are bad - it's not super complex. Most of the characters in the story are real, though, and although the story isn't fixated on the historical aspects, you get a good glimpse into culture and society at the time.
Mar 09, 2011 Kati rated it liked it
Liked the history, and I've googled a lot of the paintings that were featured in the book (the Sistine Madonna and the Transfiguration in particular). I found the writing a bit flat, though. Slow pace, characters' motivations weren't really clear. e.g., after going on for a hundred pages about how Margherita doesn't want to be another notch in Raphael's belt, she suddenly does a 180 and agrees to be his mistress without much reason given for her change of heart.

Good book overall.
May 22, 2011 Evy rated it really liked it
This was a very enjoyable read. I picked it up for a bit of light summer reading. I was instantly drawn in by the characters in the novel and their depth and dimension. This novel addresses an individual I have not read about in previous historical fiction novels which can tend to cover only a few time frames. ere we read about the love between the Italian painter Raphael and a baker's daughter, a sort of Cinderella story of 16th century Rome. Overall a great read.
Jan 18, 2009 Aarti added it
I couldn't get past page 30 of this one- the writing seemed really trite to me, and I don't like books that are so formulaic- with the typical guy's guy who has been with many women but never felt a connection with any of them until meeting the very typical female who stands out in a crowd not only for her beauty but also because she, unlike most ladies, actually speaks her mind. And then they of course fall in love, against all odds.
Mar 19, 2011 Denise rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
This book started out well but never seemed to "click" with me. I understood the stress of the great artist (Raphael Sanzio) with all of his many projects and the demands placed on him by his clients. But after he gives his mistress (Margherita Luti)a great ruby ring the plot begins to wander. I finished the book but felt incomplete at the ending and with too many unanswered questions.
Jan 21, 2010 Kristin rated it liked it
This book made me remember the trip Joe and I took to Rome. I liked learning about the Sistine Chapel and all of the Pope's commissions from Raphael's perspective. The romance between Raphael and Margherita was a little predictable, but overall, the setting and the description of Vatican politics made this a good story. I recommend this book to Joe!
Krissy Collins
Jun 26, 2013 Krissy Collins rated it it was ok
I like the idea behind this book. It appealed to me as I was an Art major in college. The writing was a little bland, however. The characters weren't introduced in a way that made you grow attached to them like I would have liked. Still an interesting story line and worth the read if you are into art history.
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Diane Haeger is the author of thirteen historical novels, including Courtesan, The Ruby Ring and My Dearest Cecilia. She lives in California with her husband and family.
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