I loved the premise of this book: a grown woman, still suffering the splintering effects of her parent's divorce, Meg has always dreamed of traveling to Florence, Italy. Even though she's never seen it, it feels like home. Her father has promised to take her for years, and as much as she wants to go, the little girl inside is still waiting for her Daddy to sweep her away and finally fulfill at least one promise to her in his lifetime.
I said I love the premise of this book. The follow-through did not quite meet my expectations. The beginning of this book moves very slowly, while setting a necessary background. There are small inserts from the life of a long-deceased member of the Medici family, Nora Orsini. Unfortunately, this POV did not add much to the story, as her tale moved as slowly as Meg's.
There are things I enjoyed about this book. The author has a beautiful writing style that is almost poetic, and through that writing, I felt as if I had visited Florence vicariously. She made the art come alive in such a way that I actually stopped to look up some of the paintings to view them online. That's impressive. The story was interesting enough to keep me reading without too much effort. I especially enjoyed the lively Italian characters, who seemed to have more dimension than the main character.
But there were a few things that bothered me. While the author's appreciation for art and ability to describe it is amazing, it almost bordered on worship. This book is touted as Christian fiction, but there was very little reference to Christ, unless He was being described in a painting. It was more of a vague spiritual journey, where one can find God through the transcending beauty of the talent He bestowed on the artists. Then there was the running theme that reality is what you make of it. While I am not always a black and white person, Truth is not always just what we wish it to be. It is definable. These things detracted from my enjoyment of the novel.
Here is my rating scale:
1 star: distasteful, foul, never-to-be mentioned again book 2 star: Probably could not finish, but had one or two redeeming qualities 3 star: Enjoyable enough to finish, with high points, but would not read again 4 star: a page turner, hard to put down, leaves an impression 5 star: non-stop, breath-taking, can't put down, life-changing book
I rate this book on the high end of 3 stars. I would not read it again, BUT, I would try this author again. I truly enjoyed her mastery of language. I would barely call this Christian fiction, which may appeal to some readers, but was a negative for me.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher, in exchange for my honest review.