A searing novel of love and war, betrayal and redemption.
Having grown up in an exclusive circle of wealthy British ex-pats in Florence in the 1920s, Alice Orsini shocks everyone when she marries the son of a minor Italian landowner and begins restoring San Martino, a crumbling villa in Tuscany, to its former glory. But after years of hard work, filling the acres with orchards, livestock, and farmhands, Alice's growing restlessness pulls her into the heady social swirl of wartime Rome and a reckless affair that will have devastating consequences.
Her indiscretion is noticed by careful eyes—those of Robert Marshall, a renowned dealer of renaissance art. In exchange for his silence, he demands Alice hide a priceless Caravaggio, a national treasure that he has sold to the Germans, at San Martino. As the front creeps toward Tuscany, sending a wave of orphans, refugees, and wounded Allies to San Martino, Alice trusts that the painting she's hiding will keep the Germans at bay. What she doesn't know is the truth about a brilliant young artist she harbors named Kristín, a prodigy who can restore any painting, and whose secrets may ruin them all.
Trapped between loyalists and resistors, cruel German forces and Allied troops, Alice and Kristín must withstand the destruction of everything around them while painfully confronting the consequences of their past mistakes.
In this sweeping story of passion and betrayal, Olafsson works his profound magic once again, creating a novel that grapples with the moral abyss of war while rendering the psychological portraits of those living through it with masterful strokes.
“[A] beautifully realized novel…Olafsson masterfully depicts the interior lives of these women, creating a richly complex portrait of love and passion at work even as his harrowing depictions of daily life in war-torn Italy add additional depth and power to the novel.”
“[Olaf’s] literary skills bring Restoration to life on a windy Tuscan hilltop north of Florence...[and] shows the reader the permutations of love betrayed, and the enormous losses that war will claim.”
“An elegant meditation on the interplay among politics, aesthetics, and personal ethics. It’s also a surprisingly moving story about two women, each of whom struggles with grief and guilt as she navigates life during wartime….Gently paced [and] satisfying.”
“RESTORATION is an elegantly constructed work of fiction, seamlessly moving between the past and the present, but what makes Olafsson’s novel so compelling is his empathy and compassion for Alice Orsini, a woman trying to redeem her life in a country ravaged by war.”
“With a backdrop of the ravages of WWII, particularly as they affect the civilian population, Olafsson casts a keen eye on Germany’s wartime acquisition of artistic masterpieces. A beautifully written literary novel of love, betrayal, reconciliation, and art.”
“A tremendous talent.”
“Restoration is an elegantly constructed work of fiction, seamlessly moving between the past and the present.”
—Ron Rash, bestselling author of Serena
Acclaimed novelist Olaf Olafsson brings us Restoration, a sweeping story of love tested by human frailty and the terrors and tragedies of war. Departing from the landscapes of his native Iceland—so beautifully evoked in Absolution, The Journey Home, and other previous works—Olafson sets Restoration in the gorgeous Italian hills of Tuscany during the World War Two years of the early 1940s. He captivates readers with a deeply emotional story in the vein of The English Patient by Michael Ondaajte, Ian McEwan’s Atonement, and other contemporary literary classics, spinning a tale of passion, art, war, and betrayal centered around a pair of love triangles and a forged Caravaggio.