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3.12 of 5 stars 3.12  ·  rating details  ·  264 ratings  ·  24 reviews
Matt O’Brien, an assistant curator and art restorer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has always been passionate about the Italian Renaissance. But when he discovers a long-neglected portrait of a beautiful woman among the museum’s miles of storage bins, he becomes obsessed--and not only because he suspects that the painting is by Leonardo da Vinci. Something about the my...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published November 11th 2003 by Anchor (first published July 1st 2002)
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Ok, yet another book in which I was excited about the concept and wholly disappointed by the delivery. Mr. McKean is not a bad writer; each of the individual scenes in the book are very well written, very sensory accessible and it's obvious he's done a lot of research and/or knows a lot about many many different topics.
The problem is that he doesn't string those great scenes together into a flowing, coherent narrative. There's no story. I mean, I get the plot: Art restorer falls in love with pa...more
The idea behind this novel is excellent- an art restorator falls in love with a woman in a Renaissance painting, then finds himself transported back to her time. However, as much as I enjoyed the premise of the story, I was dissatisfied with how the author developed it. Something about his writing style didn't click with me, and I couldn't get past the knowledge that this was a fictional story. Somehow, I just didn't feel like I was in the Renaissance with flesh-and-blood characters. I also didn...more
A noteworthy first attempt

Expert violinmaker, McKean, ventures into new territory with his ambitious debut novel, Quattrocento - a story of fine art and love, cleverly disguised as time-travel conceit.At the heart of the story is Matt O’Brian, an art restorer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, who struggles with the realization that he has revealed a never before discovered quattrocento* masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci; a painting of a beautiful young woman, who O’Brian names “Anna”. The painti...more
In general, I enjoyed this tale of time-travel and art history set in modern-day New York City and fifteenth-century Tuscany. The glimpses behind the scenes of the art world are interesting, the story of Matt's obsession with a woman depicted in an old painting is very romantic and intriguing, and there's just enough danger thrown in to keep everything mysterious and exciting. But I sometimes had trouble with the time-warp elements of the story – the main character would just suddenly fade out o...more
This is a beautifully written book. James McKean really paints pictures with words and gorgeously turned phrases. This is the story of Matt O'Brien, who restores art for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. When he comes upon a badly darkened painting tucked in the corner of the Met's archives, he has no idea how important it will become. A young woman, whom he names, "Anna" (good choice, man!) begins to emerge from the years of grime and mistreatment. But what is astonishing is that it seems to him...more
Dec 15, 2007 Jaclyn rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: art history and music buffs who don't mind having to read between the lines
So. Usually I open a book with a completely open mind. But not this book. This book, I was bound and determined to like. And I did like it - good story concept, and it kept me reading until the very end (even during period breaks of an NHL game, it held my interest). But it has some flaws, too.

The concept is great - an assistant curator and art restorer at the Met finds a portrait that he knows is something special and as he spends hours restoring it, he falls in love with the subject of the por...more
QUATTROCENTO (non-mystery) – Good+
James McKean – 1st book
Matt O’Brien, assistant curator and art restorer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has always been passionate about the Italian Renaissance. When he discovers a long-neglected portrait of a beautiful woman among the museum’s storage bins, he becomes obsessed--and not only because he suspects that the painting is by Leonardo da Vinci. Something about the mysterious woman’s exquisite face stirs his memory, and transports Matt across the cen...more
For the most part I enjoyed this book. The writing was rich, with descriptions that were vivid and detailed as though seen through the eyes of a painter, which is appropriated since the main theme of the book is art. I found out a lot about the development of painting techniques during the course of reading this novel.
It's the story of an art restorer who becomes obsessed with the painting of a woman and somehow manages to travel back to her time, where he becomes involved in her life.
I someti...more
I was a bit annoyed by the messy and confusing logic of the time travel in this book. Also how easy it was for the narrator to assimilate into the societies he went back to.
I bought this book because it has Ginevra on the cover. The book doesn't deserve her. It takes a lot for me to dislike a book about art, but this one delivered. The plot is weak, the narration is oddly paced, and the writing drips with pretension. It's also full of gag-worthy similes like this classic line: "Like a risotto that hadn't been properly stirred, her melodious Italian had a hard crust of Germanic reflection" (p. 97). Yup, there's one on just about every page.

It's a pretty cover, thoug...more
Another time travel book this time between Renaissance Italy and modern New York City. It was interesting that the main character falls in love with a woman in the painting he is restoring and then somehow ends up at her house in Italy. The only annoying part was that it is written by a guy who makes violins so he continually refers to "string theory" and how it could possibly relate to time travel. It kept going over my head honestly. Still it was a fun read.
It took awhile to "get into" the book ( 1/4 way through) but in the end I enjoyed it. The author referenced things/places/painters/science I did not know too much about so I looked them up, making the book more understandable and enjoyable. I wouldn't give it the 5 stars I gave to "Time and Again" but I am a New Yorker.....
For those interested in 14th century Italian art, this book is for you! Unfortunately, I am not one of those people. While not a science fiction fan, I'll buy into time travel for a good love story (i.e., The Outlander), but the love story wasn't good and the art history was boring for me.
Sol  Gonzalez
Estuvo algo bastante raro.
Me gustaron las descripciones de pinturas y métodos... pero esa mezcla de ficción histórica y ciencia ficción, viajes en el tiempo, enemigos que se desvanecen en el aire, realidades alternas...

Fue demasiado
Thing Two
This is the story of a time-traveling museum curator who falls in love with the model in a recently discovered Da Vinci. Unfortunately, it wasn't nearly as interesting to read as that last sentence was to write.
I thought this was going to be better. It had interesting parts but the sudden time travel were too abrupt and not explained enough. I ended up not finishing it, which is rare for me.
Interesting concept, but reading his prose was like walking through molasses. Read the first few chapters and skimmed through the rest of the book.
Fun story. Not bad for a first novel. I thought the time shifts were a bit clumsy. I understand why they were done that way though.
I loves me some historical fiction, so I mostly enjoyed the subject matter, but the writing was awkward.
I love time-travel books but this one was so bad in so many ways I finally gave up at page 121.
A few too many literary devices, but I learned a bit about painting and art history.
History lesson with emphasis on art--very well written and compelling.
Sep 30, 2013 Florencia marked it as to-read
Awful reviews... but still I'd like to read it sometime.
Sep 09, 2012 Jim rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: italy
Decent way to go to bed in Italy in the 15th century
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I’ve been a violinmaker since 1973, when I was among the first group of students at the first school for the craft in America, started that year in Salt Lake City. After graduating I returned to New York – I’d grown up north of the city, in Chappaqua – to work under an expert in restoration and setup. While learning restoration I continued making instruments. Researching varnish recipes led me bac...more
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