Skip to main content

Review: The Miracles of Prato, by Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz

The Miracles of Prato is the story of a lesser-known love affair, between the Renaissance painter Filippo Lippi, and Lucrezia Butti, a novice in the Convent of Santa Margherita in Prato. According to the authors' note in the back of the book, Lucrezia was either a novice or a young lady placed in the care of the Convent. They had two children together, one of which, Filippino, became a famous painter himself, studying under Boticelli. The story is probably a romanticized version of what really happened; doing a bit more reading, I found out that Lucrezia may have been kidnapped by Lippi, and held hostage in his home. The "miracle" of the title is the Sacra Cintola, or Sacred Belt, that is the lynchpin of part of the story.

I found this book to be slow going. The writing style is excellent, but excellent writing does not a great novel make. The authors are clearly passionate about art; it's too bad that the rest of the novel can't keep up. The love story is muted, and it was hard for me to see why the painter and novice were attracted to each other in the first place. It's a pretty standard treatment of an old story. But that said, I enjoyed the historical setting; it's well-researched, and the story is an interesting composite of fact and fiction. But for a novel about the Renaissance, this book diappointed me a bit.


Boy, you just hit the proverbial nail on the head! It's amazing that sometimes you'll run across these books where the writing is excellent, but there is something (big) missing....some spark, or life to the book.

Nicely written review!
S. Krishna said…
Great review! I think I'll pass on this one though.

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972 Originally published: 1944 My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press) How I acquired my copy:, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…

Review: Jane Austen's Letters, ed. by Deirdre Le Faye

Pages: 667 Original date of publication: 2011 My copy: 2011 (Oxford University Press) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy:, April 2013
This is a compilation of many of Jane Austen’s letters, most of them sent to her sister Cassandra between 1796 and 1817, the year of her death. Although many of Austen’s letters were destroyed by her sister in order to preserve the family reputation, the collection contains over 160 letters in which Austen gives her sister details about her life in Chawton—as well as giving us a tantalizing glimpse of what was going through her mind as she was writing her novels (especially the novel that was to become Pride and Prejudice, First Impressions). There are other letters here, too, giving advice to her niece and professional correspondence to publishers—as well as a couple of letters that were written by Cassandra Austen after Jane’s death.
To the sisters, the letters acted in the way that phone calls do today; Austen’s news is all about pe…

Review: Midnight in Peking, by Paul French

Pages: 259 Original date of publication: 2013 My copy: 2013 (Penguin) Why I decided to read: How I acquired my copy: Phoenix bookstore, May 2013
In January 1937, the body of a young British girl, Pamela Werner, was found near Peking’s Fox Tower. Although two detectives, one British and the other Chinese, spent months on the case, the case was never solved completely, and the case was forgotten in the wake of the invasion of the Japanese. Frustrated, Pamela’s father, a former diplomat, tried to solve the crime. His investigation took him into the underbelly of Peking society and uncovered a secret that was worse than anything he could have imagined.
At first, I thought that this would be a pretty straightforward retelling of a true crime, but what Paul French (who spent seven years researching the story) reveals in this book is much more than that. Foreign society in Peking in the 1930s was stratified, with the British colonials at the top and the White Russian refugees at the bottom, but…