Having grown up in an exclusive circle of wealthy British ex-pats in Florence in the 1920s, Alice Orsini shocks everyone when she marries the son of a minor Italian landowner and begins restoring San Martino, a crumbling villa in Tuscany, to its former glory. But after years of hard work, filling the acres with orchards, livestock, and farmhands, Alice's growing restlessness pulls her into the heady social swirl of wartime Rome and a reckless affair that will have devastating consequences.
Her indiscretion is noticed by careful eyes - those of Robert Marshall, a renowned dealer of Renaissance art. In exchange for his silence, he demands Alice hide a priceless Caravaggio, a national treasure that he has sold to the Germans, at San Martino. As the front creeps toward Tuscany, sending a wave of orphans, refugees, and wounded Allies to San Martino, Alice trusts that the painting she's hiding will keep the Germans at bay. What she doesn't know is the truth about a brilliant young artist she harbors named KristÍn, a prodigy who can restore any painting, and whose secrets may ruin them all.
Trapped between loyalists and resistors, cruel German forces and Allied troops, Alice and KristÍn must withstand the destruction of everything around them while painfully confronting the consequences of their past mistakes.
In this sweeping story of passion and betrayal, Olafsson works his profound magic once again, creating a novel that grapples with the moral abyss of war while rendering the psychological portraits of those living through it with masterful strokes.
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"Olafsson masterfully portrays the interior lives of these women, creating a richly complex portrait of love and passion at work even as his harrowing depictions of daily life in war-torn Italy add additional depth and power to the novel. Enthusiastically recommended for fans of literary and historical fiction." - Library Journal
"With a backdrop of the ravages of WWII, particularly as they affect the civilian population, Olafsson casts a keen eye on Germany's wartime acquisition of artistic masterpieces. A beautifully written literary novel of love, betrayal, reconciliation, and art." - Booklist
"Though there are some quasi-literary flourishes here, the interior lives of the characters rarely rise above melodramatic cliché." - Kirkus Reviews
"By the time the fighting heats up and the plot strands all coalesce, the stake that readers should have in the fates of these characters just isn't there." - Publishers Weekly
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Olaf Olafsson (full name Ólafur Jóhann Ólafsson) was
born in Reykjavik, Iceland in 1962. He studied physics as a Wien Scholar
at Brandeis University,
Massachusetts, in the
early 1980s. He is the author of several
novels and a collection of short stories; his work has been translated into at
least 14 languages.
He is also Executive Vice President of Time Warner, responsible for the company's corporate strategy, mergers, acquisitions and investments. Prior to that, he was Vice Chairman of Time Warner Digital Media where he was responsible for developing strategic business plans for Time Warners diverse digital media businesses and identifying emerging growth opportunities for the company in the digital realm.
His career in ...
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review
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