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Restoration: A Novel Paperback – Bargain Price, February 7, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; Original edition (February 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062065653
  • ASIN: B00AZ98PLM
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #387,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

In the summer of 1944, in Tuscany, the lives of two women, both with damaging clandestine love affairs behind them, intersect. British-born Alice, whose marriage to Marchese Claudio Orsini palls after the excitement of restoring their rundown country estate, named San Martino, embarks on a long-term affair with a childhood friend, whose comfort she seeks as her young son, Giovanni, dies of meningitis. Claudio, unable to comprehend Alice’s absence from their dying son’s bedside, vanishes, leaving Alice to manage the estate as the German occupying forces approach. Art student Kristin, who falls in love, in Rome, with her married mentor and employer, art expert and restorer Robert Marshall, executes the perfect postaffair artistic revenge, which ultimately takes her to San Martino, which now shelters partisans, escaped Allied prisoners of war, and more. 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. --Michele Leber

Review

“An elegant meditation on the interplay among politics, aesthetics, and personal ethics. It’s also a surprisingly moving story about two women, each of whom struggles with grief and guilt as she navigates life during wartime….Gently paced [and] satisfying.” (Boston Globe)

“[Olaf’s] literary skills bring Restoration to life on a windy Tuscan hilltop north of Florence...[and] shows the reader the permutations of love betrayed, and the enormous losses that war will claim.” (Shelf Awareness)

“[A] beautifully realized novel…Olafsson masterfully depicts 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.” (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)

“RESTORATION is an elegantly constructed work of fiction, seamlessly moving between the past and the present, but what makes Olafsson’s novel so compelling is his empathy and compassion for Alice Orsini, a woman trying to redeem her life in a country ravaged by war.” (Ron Rash, bestselling author of SERENA and THE COVE)

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Customer Reviews

It would be too bad if this book were overlooked because of the title.
Suzanne Dobbins
I hate to give to much away as not knowing what was going to happen next kept me turning the pages finishing this book in just a few days.
Tara Peterson
The novel felt like something based on a VERY good short story, that was then expanded but needed more character development.
Louie's Mom

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Holly Weiss VINE VOICE on January 5, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Alice, a wealthy English girl, marries Claudio Orsini, ten years her senior, much to the horror of her parents. With naïve optimism, Alice and Claudio purchase a 3500-acre tumbledown Tuscan villa. Having entered a life she knows nothing about, Alice copes by teaching illiterate children.

Copenhagen Royal Academy of Art graduate, Kristin, travels to Italy to sketch the great sculptures. Marshall, a restorer of paintings, takes her under his wing. Although talented, she is trusting to a fault.

Kristin and Alice's lives intersect against the backdrop of war-torn Italy in 1944 and the mystique of the Tuscany region. For these women sexual dalliances have dire consequences. Paintings are not the only thing being restored in this novel. Fallible human beings seek redemption.

The author spins out his story by examining the remorseful self-examinations of both female characters. The frequently changing points of view reflect the unsettled lives of the characters. The technique is interesting and original, but it slows the pace of the plot. Readers willing to use their imagination and draw their own conclusions will reap rewards by the end of the novel. Olafsson is a writer who makes his readers think rather than feeding his tale to them on a silver platter. The writer of the book jacket synopsis took the opposite approach--telling us more than we'd like to know upfront.

Lovers of literary fiction who appreciate the craft of writing will enjoy this book. Those of us who have committed an offense and seek absolution will revel in Olafsson's tenderness toward sympathetic female characters. The book is well titled and well crafted.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A. Debban VINE VOICE on December 28, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
...and by my title I don't mean anything graphic, but rather I admire the style and plot of this outstanding book. Against the background of WWII in Italy, this novel explores the themes of the loss of a child, adultery and its consequences on two women, and forgiveness or the lack thereof. The story's main characters are Alice, an English ex-patriate who is married to an Italian and is conflicted at adjusting to rural villa life, and Kristin, a Scandinavian neophyte artist in Rome who finds her painting career being side-tracked by her art restoration employment from her eventual lover. How Alice suffers with the aftermath of adultery, how Kristin plots revenge as the 'other woman' in an affair, and their intersection as war intrudes upon their lives make up the basics of this intricate yet believeable and highly readable novel.
I highly recommend this book.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Virginia Campbell VINE VOICE on January 13, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It has been a while since I have read a book where the overall story was the star, and the characters were necessary components to reach the final page. I enjoyed "Restoration", by Olaf Olafsson, very much. The human failings and strengths of each character add shaded complexities to the horrific World War II story line. The contrast of the settings of glorious Tuscany and the destruction from bombing, killing and marauding invaders is piercing. There is no hero or heroine in this story, but a collection of people and lives that you hope will somehow be set to rights. There are secrets, betrayals, devastating loss, and mysteries which propel the characters toward resolutions and new beginnings. Alice is the wealthy daughter of a class-conscious British family. She shocks everyone by marrying Claudio, an entitled minor-landowner, and moving with him to Tuscany. They begin their life together in a once-beautiful villa in need of much repair. As they work side by side to build a dream life, they try to ignore their underlying differences. A much-loved son, Giovanni, is born, and they find a measure of contentment. However, as the villa and its lands begin to flourish, more and more demands are made upon both Claudio and Alice. He is very much a man of the land and his dependents, and she begins to long for tastes of the life she left behind. She recklessly reaches out for greater fulfillment, and yet she is not without guilt and self-recrimination. The illness and eventual death of young Giovanni pushes Claudio and Alice further apart. Her intended reparation to their marriage is halted by Claudio's strange disappearance. Alice is left to manage the villa and its lands with the help of a devoted family friend, Pritchett.Read more ›
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Debra L. Martin on February 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
This is the story of two women, who even though they've never met, their lives will become intricately connected. English ex-patriate Alice shocks her family when she marries an older Italian, Claudio Orsini, and together they buy a rundown villa in Tuscany. While Alice initially immerses herself in the restoration of the villa, surrounding buildings and farmer tenants, it doesn't take long before she misses the British social life in Rome. However, her actions at one of these parties will change the course of her life. She is left dealing with feelings of guilt, heart-breaking loss and ultimately her own survival when the Germans retreat and plunder their way through Tuscany in 1944.

In Rome, we meet Kristin, a Scandinavian fledging artist who interns under Marshall, a renowned restoration artist. She is young and trusting and falls under Marshall's spell, eventually becoming his lover, but the bloom of love soon fades. Kristin plans the perfect revenge against her lover using her own restoration skills, or so she thinks, until events spiral out of control leaving her trying desperately to undo a crime against art itself.

The story follows these two women, told in first person for Alice and third person for Kristin. What do these seemingly random women have in common? It is only when Kristin shows up at Alice's villa seeking sanctuary from the retreating Germans that we begin to learn their darkest secrets and how their lives intersect. While both women suffer in the war, I found that I was much more invested in Kristin's story. The character of Alice seemed flat to me and I found the constant shifting of POVs to be confusing at times. It took a few paragraphs to realize that I was once again in Alice's head.
Read more ›
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