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Ratings and Book Reviews (10 33 star ratings
10 reviews
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4.3 out of 5
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  • 1 person found this review helpful

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    Mystery around 16th century art

    Fascinating read. The author moved back and forth from the 16th century to modern day smoothly. Both of the main characters were totally believable and the story was gripping. I learnt a lot about 16th century art, convent life, the Basque shepherds’ life and that of modern day art historians. I highly recommend this book.
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    Each story is exciting on it's own, combined they

    Zari is in Scotland to study a sixteenth century female painter. However when some discrepancies in paintings occur, her search may take her in a different direction completely! Follow Zari across Europe in her search for the truth. At the same time fall back through time and live the life of Mara, an orphan, and fall in love with the rich history of the Basque region between France and Spain in the sixteenth century. Each story is exciting on it's own, combined they tell a tale that will stay with you for years. I was gifted a copy of this book and am voluntarily leaving a review.
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    Recommend it!

    Beginning was a little slow but got better...enjoyed reading it.
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    Fantastically written

    For generations, the powerful Oto family of Aragon only produces male heirs: warriors beget warriors. And yet there are rumours in the mountains that at times, newborn girls are left in the forest to perish. The Baroness of Oto knows these are not just rumours. After giving birth to twins, a girl and a boy, she seizes on her husband’s absence and entrusts her daughter to a nomadic mountain woman, Elena, charging the woman to secretly take the child to the safety of mountains and be her guide and teacher as she grows to womanhood. Elena takes the child to Belarac Abbey and promises the Abbess annual payments of gold for her care. Mira grows to be a quick student, though strong-willed. She is taught to read and write and the healing arts from Elena. It is in this capacity that she meets a master artist who teaches her his art. Eventually, Mira carves an independent life for herself by painting portraits of wealthy merchant families. This is a dual-timeline story, and in the present day, Zara is an art historian specializing in female artists during the Renaissance and an expert on the artist Cornelia van der Zee. Zara has been called to examine a painting that was previously attributed to van der Zee. Soon it becomes clear that the painting was not by the artist, raising the question, who painted this masterpiece? Zara links the painting to the unknown Mira and seeks to bring her out of obscurity. Along the way, Zara has to deal with the ruthless politics of academia and prevent a male colleague from muddying the waters for his own glory. In both timelines, there are strong women with a voice and a drive to succeed. The abbess is an astute business woman who works to increase the wealth and power of her abbey. Elena is an independent mountain woman who teaches Mira the skills to survive and thrive. And the Baroness, Mira’s mother, is willing to sacrifice herself to protect her daughter. A theme that links both timelines is how women’s accomplishments could be overshadowed by men, but through their intelligence and hard work they prevail. It’s ironic, but in many aspects, the Renaissance is shown as more enlightened than today. The Girl from Oto is fantastically researched with rich, historical details that is expertly woven into the fabric of the story. I felt I was there, experiencing the fir scented mountain air. I learned about a time and place that I knew very little about, including the merino wool trade that was the source of wealth for the people in the Pyrennes. I found the art restoration and history equally fascinating. Often with dual timelines, there is one timeline that is weaker than the other, but no so with this book. I enjoyed every moment of both timelines and loved all the characters throughout the story. Maroney has a gift for bringing characters to life. Highly recommended!
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    A great read, alternating between the 15th century and present day this engaging story offers a realistic portrayal of life for young women in both eras.
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