The Night Portrait is an engaging and thought-provoking work of historical fiction. It combines scenes from DaVinci's 1540s in Milan with WWII time plot. Each timeframe has 2 story narrators within the era. Laura Morelli does a wonderful job of merging the 2 narrators' stories without losing their individuality. There are many subtle connections in the storyline that join the timelines and several times she uses the same final sentence from one narrator as the first sentence to the next narrator's chapter.
I always appreciate reading WWII books that address the horrors of the war without overwhelming the reader. In this case, Morelli definitely describes the US soldiers' reactions to the discovery of the trains at Dachau and there is no mistaking the horror as she describes the scene quite graphically across a variety of senses. Edith's story and how she is torn between survival and being aghast as to the horrors around her is also depicted well and you cannot help but empathize with her.
The other story arc is in the 1490s and focuses on Da Vinci and his painting of the Lady and the Ermine in Milan. One of the narrators is the female subject of the portrait. There are historical explanations of the progressive approach to the painting compared to predecessors of the time. The story includes references to many of Da Vinci's inventions and works of art.
Morelli does a wonderful job of presenting facts in a narrative. Be sure to read the author's note at the conclusion to understand the accuracy of the real characters in the novel. Additionally, Edith and Dominic, although fictitious, are based upon real people involved in the Nazi art theft and retrieval efforts by the Monuments Men. I am definitely intrigued to learn more about this group and will watch the movies referenced in her notes soon.
Any history or art lover will enjoy this book. I look forward to reading other works by Morelli.
The Night Portrait: A Novel of World War II and da Vinci's Italy by Laura Morelli
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
wonderful historical novel
A fantastic multi timeline story centered around daVinci’s the Lady and the Ermine Morellos does a wonderful job of interweaving the stories of Edith, and Dominic in WWII Poland/Germany and their quest to protect and preserve artwork during the ravages of war. In parallel we learn about the creation of the piece they are trying to save and the painter and subject- Cecilia. There are some very clever ways on interconnecting the storylines and the overall affect is amazing. I highly recommend this book for readers who like historical fiction and a well written story
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The Challenge Prompts I will use this for are:
- Library Love #LibraryLoveChallenge Book # 98
- Literary Escapes #LiteraryEscapes Poland
- Virtual Mount TBR #VirtualMountTBR2022 Book #120
- Back List Reader #Backlistreader Book #89
- Historic Fiction #histficreadingchallenge Book #12
- BooklistQueen #booklistqueenreadingchallenge2022 #11. Discussion-Worthy Book Club Book
- Nerdy Bookworm #NerdyBookwormChallengeXO # 38 Dual timeline book
- OWLS 22 # 25 Time Turner: A book with dual timelines
- Pick your Poison #4 a "comprehensive" book
- PopSugar #popsugarreadingchallenge #33. A social-horror book