I recently read The Miracles of Prato by Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz and let me tell you, I loved this book! The thing that piqued my interest immediately was the fact that this is historical fiction based on one of my favorite renaissance painters Fra Fillipo Lippi, a monk with a sordid reputation. I'm a sucker for history, for beautiful art and the renaissance and this novel delivered exactly what I was hoping for.
It's a fabulous blend of historical fact and modern fiction that chronicles a few years in the lives of the painter/monk Fra Fillipo and Lucrezia, a novitiate at the Santa Margherita Convent in Prato. It begins in 1457, when young Lucrezia Buti and her sister Spinetta arrive at the convent after misfortune befalls their family and they find themselves suddenly impoverished. While her sister is pious and has wanted to live in the convent from a young age, Lucrezia finds herself having a difficult time letting go of the beauty and finery of her former life and resigning herself to life within the walls of the convent.
An old nun sees a bit of herself in Lucrezia and tries to comfort her by showing her some of the beauty that resides behind the convent walls with them in the form of flowers and herbs in the garden, but it is an altar piece the nun shows her, done by Fra Fillipo Lippi, that captivates Lucrezia. She is intrigued by this man, who is a painter, monk and chaplain of her convent. A chance meeting between the two occurs early one morning, while Lucrezia kneels in the small chapel gazing at his magnificent painting. Fra Fillipo, having prayed for inspiration to finish one of the most important paintings of his lifetime is enamored by her beauty and realizes he has found his muse.
That is just the beginning of their story, which is filled with romance, beauty, greed, pride, tragedy, innocence, violence, passion and miracles. If you are intrigued by the Italian Renaissance, art history, star crossed love, life in the cloisters or just enjoy an all around good story, I'd recommend giving this book a read.
Thank you to Trish at TLC Book Tours and the publisher for the review copy of this novel.