Before I dive into my latest recommended reads, I wanted to share with you word of a new potential Raphael painting! And interestingly AI may help confirm its provenance.
You can read all about this controversy here: Is This Painting a Raphael or Not? A Fortune Rides on the Answer.
Now, on to my recent recommended reads:
The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell – I officially jumped on the O’Farrell bandwagon after reading and loving Hamnet, a gorgeous portrait of grief (and incidentally about Shakespeare losing his only son). Inspired by Robert Browning’s poem My Last Duchess, The Marriage Portrait is a rare literary suspense that totally hits the mark. Beautiful to immerse yourself in, especially if you are interested in women of the Italian Renaissance.
The Seamstress of Sardinia by Bianca Pitzorno – For Christmas, my in-laws gave me this translated novel that reminded me of my great-grandmother, a gifted Sicilian seamstress. Set at the turn of the 20th century in small-town Sardinia, it is a beautiful book with gorgeous detail and a wonderful narrator. The ending is unfortunately rushed and glossed over. So many important things happen and it all just gets summed up. Given the book’s relatively short length, the author definitely had room for expansion. Still, I really liked and would recommend, particularly to anyone interested in the setting or time period.
The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill – A powerful, difficult, important novel. Words like “epic” and “tour de force” come to mind. At times I had to read in tandem with another book because it was so difficult to countenance. I’m glad I persevered.
Persuasion by Jane Austen – After a few decades, I recently reread this twice in preparation for a podcast I’ll be on. I have such new respect for Austen’s final full-length work. To reread it again now as a middle-aged woman – I got so much out of it this time. Jane never fails to awe with her shrewdness of observation, her wit, and her nuanced writing. (Knowing my love of literature, a friend sent me this 10-year-old debate of Jane Austen versus Emily Bronte, a very enjoyable way to while away two hours, complete with several renowned British actors.)
Angels of the Pacific by Elise Hooper – Wow. A part of World War 2 that I knew absolutely nothing about. Fascinating, sad, heroic. An important and beautiful book that takes place in the Philippines and is the epitome of reviving women’s lost stories through historical fiction.