Wednesday, August 2, 2023

Book Review for The Last Masterpiece by Laura Morelli

 The Last Masterpiece by Laura Morelli

Publication August 1, 2023

Genre:  Historical Fiction, WWII


Taken from Goodreads:
  In a race across Nazi-occupied Italy, two women—a German photographer and an American stenographer—hunt for priceless masterpieces looted from the Florentine art collections.

In the summer of 1943, Eva Brunner is taking photographs of Nazi-looted art hidden in the salt mines of the Austrian hinterland. Across the ocean in Connecticut, Josephine Evans is working as a humble typist at the Yale Art Gallery.

When both women are called to Italy to contribute to the war effort, neither imagines she will hold the fate of some of the world’s greatest masterpieces torn from the Uffizi Galleries and other Florentine art collections in her hands.

But as Italy turns from ally to enemy and Hitler’s plan to destroy irreplaceable monuments and works of art becomes frighteningly clear, each woman’s race against the clock—and against one another—might demand more than they were prepared to give.

The Last Masterpiece takes readers on a heart-pumping adventure up the Italian peninsula, where nothing is as it seems and some of the greatest works of art and human achievement are at stake. Who might steal and who might save a work of art—and at what cost?

Inspired by the incredible true story of the Monuments Women, the Fifth Army WACs, and the looted Florentine art collections during World War II, the latest historical novel by USA Today bestselling author and art historian Laura Morelli plunges readers into the heart of war-torn Italy.

 My Thoughts:  WWII is my favorite time to read about.   The more I learn about what war was like, the more I want to know.   The Last Masterpiece is a book all about the art that was found in the areas where the fighting was and how those historic pieces would be saved.    I knew the story of Hitler and his top men wanting to set up their own museum and I knew of the bombings that destroyed unreplaceable pieces of art.  In this book I learned of the mines and other places where art was stored.  I learned of the lists and the pictures that were taken to be sure that every piece was returned to where it belonged when it was safe to do so.   

 The Last Masterpiece follows two women through the war and their work with protecting famous works of art in a war-stricken Italy.  I struggled with this book.  I felt like I was being told a story not reading a story.   I wanted to be pulled in and shown the artwork, showed the museums and churches where it was being taken from, and showed the different safe houses.  But instead, I just read about it.  I like books with a lot of dialogue and The Last Masterpiece has a lot of non-dialogue reading.  I found myself skimming some chapters just to get to the next dialogue.    I had to work at reading this book and almost did not finish it, but I did.  


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A Little About Laura Morelli…(Taken from her website)

  • Earned a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University
  • Combined my intellectual passions at Yale with a Mellon Doctoral Fellowship in art history and a Bass Fellowship for writing in the humanities
  • Am a USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling historical novelist, with book club picks at Target, Costco, Veranda Magazine, and Hudson News
  • Taught college students across the U.S. and in Italy, have produced art history lessons for TED-Ed, and now teach exclusively online in my Art History Academy
  • Have been a regular contributer to National Geographic TravelerItaly MagazineDepartures, and other media
  • Have earned awards for my historical fiction (an IPPY, Eric Hoffer Award, Da Vinci Eye Prize, National Indie Excellence, Benjamin Franklin, Writer’s Digest, others), as well as starred reviews and editor’s picks in Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, the Historical Novels Review
  • Have had the privilege to live and work in five countries
  • Have enriched the experiences of many travelers over two decades with my Authentic Arts shopping guidebook series
  • Enjoy my home on the coast of Georgia, my husband, 2 sons and 2 daughters, and our large, boisterous extended family. Make a mean risotto. Love to pet all fur babies, but have a weak spot for flat-faced dogs and fluffy cats





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