Thomas Lynch was once a brilliant young art historian. Now he is a disgraced, middle-aged art historian, overly fond of the bottle and of his fresh young students.
But everything will change now that hes on the trail of a lost masterpiece, a legendary Madonna by the Italian master Giovanni Bellini. Insinuating himself into the crumbling English manor house where the painting may be concealed, Lynch attempts to gull the eccentric and perversely beautiful women who live there though he himself seems to be the pawn in this elaborate game. A Victorian diary that draws Robert Browning into the paintings complicated provenance might provide the keyif only Lynch can manage to beat his hosts in the search.
In the end, it will be Lynchs own vulnerable heart that betrays the betrayer. Interlaced with complex clues and hidden jokes, The Bellini Madonna reels from the lush English countryside to the sternly lovely hill towns of the Veneto, from the fifteenth century to the twenty-first. It is a spectacularly original debut.
I met Anna Roper last month while I was trying to rob her at her
home, in the village of Mawle in Berkshire.
I write this. I write this to explain no, that is not the beginning. Let me start again. I write this out of an overwhelming need to confess, to record, and, just possibly, to apologize. There. I have set down the first few strokes of the pattern. To apologize to whom? To Anna? To myself, for making such a hopeless hash of everything? Or to the universe? I feel that it somehow deserves my most abject assurances of regret. I know that running away to Asolo now, at the end of this terrible summer, was a mistake. The stones of the buildings are still as ripe with sun as honeycombs, fat and warm with false promise. The Italian sun itself rises each day as though nothing has happened, awful in its innocence. Only the noonday shutters avert their faces, as if in sorrow or in shame. So this is what has become of my lifes ambition
There was a ...
Elizabeth Lowry’s Thomas Joseph Lynch can hold his own among the best fictional characters. In the end we do like Lynch but abhor certain aspects of his character. He may not be trustworthy but he is a hell of a storyteller and Lowry's elegant-on-steroids prose (Oxford English Dictionary editor, indeed) does as much to elevate Lynch to best-fictional-character status as do his actions. Crackpot or not (you decide) we would have Thomas Joseph Lynch over for dinner but likely count the silver afterward.
(Reviewed by Donna Chavez).
Full Review (634 words).
Lost and Stolen Treasures
According to British journalist and art critic Jonathan Jones, "The most amazing thing is not how many masterpieces go missing or get destroyed but that something so fragile as art survives for any length of time at all."
Yet the lead character of The Bellini Madonna, Thomas Joseph Lynch, is counting on the fact that the mysterious work of art he so fanatically desires still exists several hundred years after it was painted. A rather high hope, especially when the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation says art theft constitutes as much as an $8 billion per annum industry and the Bureau has even assembled a thirteen-member crack team to staff their highly specialized Art Theft Program. What's more, ...
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