By Olaf Olafsson
Ecco, $14.99, 326 pages
Wartime Italy. A forged Caravaggio. A remote villa. A search for the painting and a missing man grows more intense as the German and Allied front line moves ever closer, and the lives of two women mysteriously cross again …
‘The painting,’ I say, pulling him aside. ‘You can’t let the Allies get it.’
This lyrical and captivatingly complex novel of World War II Italy moves gracefully through the lives of two women, Alice and Kristin, as the front line presses down upon them. Alice, mistress of the villa and surrounding tenant farms, awaits her absent husband’s return, caring for the orphaned children the war has left in her care as a way of paying for losing her own. Kristin arrives as a refugee, injured after her train has been blown up. An art restorer, hailed in school for her technical skill, she is haunted by the picture she could never paint as much as by the one she could.
Elegant and captivating, Olaf Olafsson is a masterful storyteller, working with a fine-tip brush and moving his characters with the skill of a chess master. Hailed as a work in the tradition of Michael Ondaatje and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, Restoration does not disappoint.
Reviewed by Axie Barclay