Cynthia Mcarthur's Reviews > The Miracles of Prato

The Miracles of Prato by Laurie Lico Albanese
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's review
Nov 14, 2011

really liked it
Read from November 14 to 18, 2011

This is the story of Italian Renaissance painter/monk Fillipo Lippi and his muse, novitiate Lucrezia Buti. Lucrezia is young and beautiful when she and her sister are forced into the convent after her merchant father's untimely death. She is sad and just cannot seem to resign herself to her fate. Fra Fillipo Lippi is not only the most brilliant painter in Italy, but also a monk and the chaplain of Lucrezia's convent. When the painter sees Lucrezia's angelic face for the first time, he knows he must paint her. The greedy Prioress takes an unbelievable bribe to allow the novitiate to sit for the painter at his home. Naturally, a passion developes between them, and though they both try to distance themselves from each other, Lucrezia is raped by an important man and Fra Fillipo can no longer hold in his feelings. Fra Fillipo vows to protect Lucrezia and she stays at his home, and they marry in secret. This causes a great scandal, of course, made even greater by Lucrezia's growing belly. Lucrezia's conflict is "Is the baby a product of the rape, or a product of her love?" She and Fillipo decide to love the baby no matter what. Eventually, the painter's past begins to catch up with him and he is brutalized by thugs, penniless and stressed to the max when Lucrezia goes into labor. He sends her to the scandalized convent to give birth, and tries to clean up his mess of a life. When the baby boy is born, he is taken away, with no sympathy from the nuns who used to Lucrezia's friends. Lucrezia and Fillipo are distraught, when they suddenly find they have more friends than they thought they did.
I really enjoyed this book. It was well-written, well-informed on painting techniques for the time-period. I was afraid it might be a little risque, the affair between a monk and a novitiate, but it was actually portrayed and a very sweet and loving relationship that developed naturally.
I was disappointed to read in the author's note that Fillipo and Lucrezia didn't stay together for the rest of their lives, but returned to their respective Orders.
Nonetheless, this was a very interesting and entertaining read.

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11/15/2011 page 145
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