I was reading Botticelli’s Bastard for the book tour with Italy Book Tours. The plot of the book is very different and intriguing. I thank author for sending me a copy to India.
The book centres around Giovanni- a highly likable and charming man. Giovanni is mourning the death of his ex- wife which is affecting his current marriage. He is also highly obsessed with a renaissance painting. Not only that, the painting speaks to him. Giovanni believes the painting to be the work of a famous artist and becomes increasingly curious about it.
He learns of the painting’s past and is faced with a huge predicament as the painting was stolen during the Nazi plunder of European artwork. Giovanni believes that if a rightful owner of the painting is still alive, the painting will have to be foregone. Giovanni’s obsession to know the truth increases. Everyone thinks he has lost his mind but despite all of it, Giovanni persists in his quest of discovery.
A lot is happening in the plot but a combination of magic realism with historical fiction makes the book intriguing. The narrative is clever with a powerful punch. What happens in the book is for you to find out. It is beautifully written and is highly recommended.
An award winning author, Stephenm Maitland-Lewish is an award winning authors. His novel Hero on Three Continents received numerous accolades, and Emeralds Never Fade won the 2012 Benjamin Franklin Award for Historical Fiction and the 2011 Written Arts Award for Best Fiction. His novel Ambition was a 2013 USA Best Book Awards and 2014 International Book Awards finalist and won first place for General Fiction in the 2013 Rebecca’s Reads Choice Awards.
Here are a few questions from my tour stop with Stephen Maitland-Lewis:
1. How did you do research for your book?
The internet is my primary source for research, but one has to be very disciplined so as not to go off in tangents in reading material with is irrelevant to the topic in hand. For that reason, visits to local libraries are ideal, although more time consuming. With regard to Botticelli’s Bastard, the research covered many different periods of European history, which made the project enjoyable and it did not at any time feel onerous.
2. If you could put yourself as a character in your book, who would you be?
Unquestionably, Giovanni Fabrizzi, the art restorer. He was burdened with sadness and later on was faced with the dilemma of Satan on one shoulder and the good angel on the other in determining his course of action. But there is a moral tale for all of us and I found myself inspired by his ultimate decision.
3. What is the last great book you’ve read?
Sophie’s Choice by William Styron. This novel is superb on every level – character, plot, language, and overall style. I first read the book many years ago, at a time when I was not writing professionally, so I didn’t appreciate the subtlety and brilliance of Mr. Styron. Reading it again recently, I realized that the author was one of the major world’s literary geniuses. His writing is so fine that I have to resist the temptation of never writing another word.
4. Do you write every day?
I try to do so. Even if I am not writing a novel, I think it is important to write something on a daily basis, whether it be a journal entry, or a complex social or business letter. The great piano virtuoso Arturo Rubenstein remarked once that “the first day I do not practice, I notice. The second day I miss a practice, the critics notice. The third day – the audience notices.”
5. If you could go back in time where would you go?
My choice would be 1920-1929, and in the United States. Europe, pursuant to the First World War, was depressed as a result of the carnage, inflation, and general strikes. The United States notwithstanding, or maybe because of, prohibition, was alive with exciting music, Broadway, nightlife, and the emergence and expansion of the movie industry. For many, it was party time up until the Wall Street crash.
6. Do you snack while writing?
Once I start snacking, I never stop, so I try very hard not to. And the absolute worst addiction for me is dark chocolate!
7. In today’s tech savvy world, most writers use a computer or laptop. Have you ever written parts of your book on paper?
There is a great advantage to writing on paper, as one is never misled into thinking that the first draft resembles anything like the finished product. One writer I know writes on plain unlined shelf paper, which he buys at a hardware store. Before his book was even typed, it went to eight drafts. Another writer I know, the Pulitzer Prize-winner Herman Wouk, always writes on a yellow pad. As for me, I believe that I should write on paper, but I have been spoiled by ballpoint pens which glide across the page with such a speed and ease that make reading afterwards very difficult!
Disclaimer- I received a copy of the book as part of the Italy Book Tours. The opinions of the review are my own.