Julie's Reviews > Restoration

Restoration by Olaf Olafsson
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's review
Feb 22, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, own, vine
Read from March 16 to 20, 2012 — I own a copy

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 regret and violence as their lives are torn apart by war.

There were so many good aspects to this novel: the history of Germans acquiring artwork during WWII, the process of painting restoration, and farm life in the Tuscan countryside, among others. Often, though, the constant shifting of perspective was abrupt, which sometimes felt too demanding. One moment it is Alice in the first person as she is writing to her absent husband in her journal. The next it is either a third person account of Kristin’s past or just as suddenly what she is doing in the present narrative. Aside from this stylistic technicality, I enjoyed the way Olafsson gradually let his readers in on to the major events that led each woman to her current situation. The idea of restoration applies to more than just paintings, and the theme is played out well throughout the book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book via the Amazon Vine program.

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