Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Stolen Beauty by Laurie Lico Albanese

Look at this cover! Isn't it gorgeous? If you're looking for your next read and love historical fiction and art and lovers and all of those good things, this is the book. Right here. Stolen Beauty by Laurie Lico Albanese.

Stolen Beauty is a novel about love and passion and strength in the face of evil. It's about the power of art and its lasting legacy. Stolen Beauty follows the story of a young woman, Adele Bloch-Bauer, as she navigates a man's world in early 1900 Vienna. A woman of intellect and curiosity, Adele struggles to find her place, in a time where women are to be seen and not heard let alone smoke or attend coffee shops.  During the rising art movement in Vienna, Adele meets Gustav Klimt (the painter) and is immediately taken with him. He requests to paint her, seeing the strength, power, passion and desire that is just under her mask of propriety and in so doing embarks upon the creation of some of his most famous works of art, with Adele as his muse. Their love affair and mutual respect is something Adele craves and is unable to find in her own marriage at the time, creating a passionate atmosphere for the work Klimt is creating in his studio. Some of my favorite passages were the ones that brought Klimt and Adele together in the studio.

And alongside, in alternate chapters, is the story of Adele's niece Marie. Fleeing Germany as Hitler invades, Marie faces her own demons in her new husband and way of life. Time moves forward, as Marie and her husband eventually escape to America. Following in the shadows is the fate of The Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer (or The Woman in Gold as the Nazi's renamed it), the portrait Klimt created of her Aunt Adele. This portrait is something that haunts Marie until late in her life, when the story finally concludes.

I found these chapters to be a bit disjointed from Adele's. Im not sure if that is because I was so attached to Adele's character and her relationship with Klimt, but these sections of the story seemed just a bit less in comparison. I didn't feel a strong connection with Marie and I know that had something to do with it. I also felt the concluding chapters were a bit rushed, but mainly because I feel like I didn't get to know Marie very well or appreciate her relationship with Adele.

All in all, I loved this story! Like I've mentioned before, I really enjoy books that revolve around artwork or artists from the past and this one did not disappoint! I've seen a few of Klimt's pieces in museums and have always been intrigued by his use of the metallic gold and silvers along with the symbolism in paintings like The Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer and The Kiss. I loved reading  this fictionalized account of Adele's life, life in Vienna at the turn of the century and Klimt's artwork.

Stolen Beauty by Laurie Lico Albanese
320 pages
Published by Atria Books

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