The Miracles of Prato is a novel of historical fiction based on the 15th century Italian monk and painter Fra Filippo Lippi. The plot, based on what historians know about Lippi's life, is fairly predictable: Young angelic beauty enters convent against her will. Monk falls in love with girl. The church objects. Life gets complicated. Even though I knew what would happen between monk and nun, I enjoyed the characterizations of the historical figures along with the somewhat-stereotypical-but-still-well-described fictional ones. I was drawn into the drama of 15th century Italy, the politics of the church and the predicament of the painter.
Having been fortunate enough to travel to Italy and view Lippi's paintings in person last year, I was familiar with 15th century Italian history and enjoyed observing how Albanese and Morowitz include the historical facts in their novel. I wondered, though, how readers without a background in Italian history would fare in the political and church intrigue that accompanies the love story in this book. Lippi is not the most well known of the Italian painters but his story is still compelling and anyone looking for a light and entertaining read in a historical setting would enjoy this novel. Albanese and Morowitz do a great job of setting the mood of the time period with the dialogue between characters and the descriptions of their concerns and daily life. This book certainly appears to follow a current trend of female historical fiction novels, though this book is as much about Lippi as it is about the women in his life.
The book is written by two authors, Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz. For more information on both authors and the book, check out the Harper Collins website.
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