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Monday, January 30, 2017

Review: Stolen Beauty by Laurie Lico Albanese

Title: Stolen Beauty
Author: Laurie Lico Albanese
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Atria Books
Publish Date: February 1, 2017
Source: Publisher



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "In the dazzling glitter of 1903 Vienna, Adele Bloch-Bauer—young, beautiful, brilliant, and Jewish—meets painter Gustav Klimt. Wealthy in everything but freedom, Adele embraces Klimt’s renegade genius as the two awaken to the erotic possibilities on the canvas and beyond. Though they enjoy a life where sex and art are just beginning to break through the façade of conventional society, the city is also exhibiting a disturbing increase in anti-Semitism, as political hatred foments in the shadows of Adele’s coffee house afternoons and cultural salons.

Nearly forty years later, Adele’s niece Maria Altmann is a newlywed when the Nazis invade Austria—and overnight, her beloved Vienna becomes a war zone. When her husband is arrested and her family is forced out of their home, Maria must summon the courage and resilience that is her aunt’s legacy if she is to survive and keep her family—and their history—alive.

Will Maria and her family escape the Nazis’ grip? And what will become of the paintings that her aunt nearly sacrificed everything for?"


My Two Cents:

In "Stolen Beauty," Adele Bloch-Bauer becomes just one of painter Gustav Klimt's many muses. It's the early 1900s and Europe is changing rapidly. Adele dreams of bringing art to her home in Vienna and she and her husband become two of the art world's major patrons in the city. During World War II, it is up to Adele's beloved niece to try to save the beloved painting of Adele (who is deceased by that point) for her uncle. This is an exciting book of love, passion, and art for historical fiction lovers.

I was initially drawn to this book by the inclusion of Gustav Klimt. I have long enjoyed his art (how could you not be stunned and taken in by all of the gorgeous figures and the gold, oh the gold?) but I did not know much about him at all. This book is so much more than just an exploration of his art though. Adele is a woman before her time. Her husband believes very much in the avant garde and encourages his wife's participation in the glittering art world of Vienna. Although Adele appreciates her husband's modern outlook, it takes her awhile to love him. That only comes much later once she begins to truly appreciate all that he has done for her. I loved the detail of Adele's life and all that she is able to do throughout the book.

Maria is quite different than Adele. Although she has still had the opportunity to grow up wealthy and privileged, that begins to fall away under the shadow of the Nazis. Maria's family is Jewish. So was Adele but in Adele's time, that did not hold her back. In Maria's time, Maria and her family are targets. We follow Maria as she tries to escape Europe: first landing in Liverpool, England and finally in California as a refugee. We see how she carves out a life for herself and is pulled back to the past to rescue paintings from the Austrian government that rightfully belong to her family as her uncle wanted.

The detail of the book is great. The author does a great job of bringing the worlds of both Adele and Maria to life. Adele's world is glittering. Maria's world is full of danger at every turn. Both of these women existed, which makes this book all the more fascinating. I thoroughly enjoyed it!



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