Title: The Miracles of Prato
Authors: Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
Publication Date: February 2, 2010
Paperback: 400 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Italy, 1456. The Renaissance is in glorious bloom. A Carmelite monk, the great artist Fra Filippo Lippi acts as chaplain to the nuns of the Convent Santa Margherita. It is here that he encounters the greatest temptation of his life, beautiful Lucrezia Buti, who has been driven to holy orders more by poverty than piety. In Lucrezia’s flawless face Lippi sees the inspiration for countless Madonnas and he brings the young woman to his studio to serve as his model. But as painter and muse are united in an exhilarating whirl of artistic discovery, a passionate love develops, one that threatens to destroy them both even as it fuels some of Lippi’s greatest work.
Twenty-two years ago I sat in a darkened auditorium taking Art History of the Renaissance to meet a college requirement, never thinking I would ever use the knowledge beyond that semester. I truly should have paid more attention to the lectures. The Miracles of Prato by Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz is a beautifully artistic tale of Fra Filippo Lippi, an ordained Carmelite monk and famous painter, and his immediate infatuation with Lucrezia Buti’s beauty. A story of fact intermixed with fiction; the authors take the reader deep inside the Renaissance period, the art and the powerful families of the time and especially the Medici and into the Convent Santa Margherita where they weave together a tale of what might have occurred between Fra Filippo and young Lucrezia. Albanese and Morowitz have managed to capture the essence of not only the Renaissance period (thankfully I did pay far greater attention in history classes) and life in a convent, but also added in elements of mystery, corruption, secrecy, and forbidden love. The prose takes on an artistic flair as the words, feeling, and thoughts flow across the pages and blend together in a near perfect harmony. The Miracles of Prato captures the reader from the prologue and has the reader hooked by the time the Buti sisters Spinetta and Lucrezia arrive at the Convent Santa Margherita upon the death of their father. The story is told in stunning and rich detail, the characters are finely crafted and easy to relate to, and the storyline is delicately yet expertly woven with a blend of historical fact, historical rumour, and fiction, making The Miracles of Prato a brilliantly engaging book. I especially was fascinated by the descriptions of various herbs and their uses in medicine, cooking, dyeing and silks, things the reader will learn from Sister Pureza, who ends up being one of my favorite characters. I cannot praise The Miracles of Prato enough and highly recommend it to readers as well as book discussion groups.
Laurie Albanese is the author of the novel Lynelle by the Sea and the memoir Blue Suburbia, which was named a Book Sense Best Book of the Year and was an Entertainment Weekly Editor’s Choice selection.
Laura Morowitz is a professor of art history and coauthor of Consuming the Past: The Medieval Revival in Fin-de-Siècle France. They both live in New Jersey with their families.
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I received a complimentary copy of The Miracles of Prato by Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz from TLC Book Tours to be a part of this tour and offer my honest review of the book. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of aforementioned book.