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The Lost Madonna
The Story: When an old friend, now the Dean of an American university program in Florence, Italy, calls with an invitation to teach art history for a semester, Suzanne Cunningham is both hesitant and excited. In the sixties, as a young woman backpacking in Europe with a girlfriend, she had arrived in Florence and the following day found herself caught up in a devastating flood as it swept through the city. She stayed to help with the rescue and restoration of priceless Renaissance art, and also became involved with a young Italian restorer. The affair did not end well, and she has not returned to Florence in over thirty years.
Suzanne decides to accept the position. While preparing for a class she comes across an article featuring a fifteenth-century painting claimed to have been lost in the flood. She knows the painting was saved, because she had assisted in the restoration. She returns to Italy and begins a search for the lost painting as well as the man she has never forgotten.
The Story behind the Story: On November 4, 1966, the Arno River in Florence exploded, crashing over its banks, devastating the city, destroying ancient manuscripts, ravaging priceless paintings and frescoes. Financial aid arrived from all over the world, and art conservators and historians flocked to the city to help with the rescue and restoration. Students, some studying in Florence, many traveling from other locations, pitched in with youthful energy and determination to help the flood victims and assist in saving the art. They were known as the mud angels.
Two years later, Kelly Jones arrived in Florence to study at an American university. Much had been accomplished in the restoration of the city and its art, but traces of the flood remained everywhere-in the dark water lines still visible on the ochre-colored buildings, in the empty spaces in the museums replaced with signs declaring "in corso di restauro."
Kelly spent a memorable year in Florence, exploring and studying the art. She has returned several times since and it still ranks as one of her favorite cities.
Jacket Notes: Thirty years after leaving Florence with a broken heart, Suzanne Cunningham is thrilled to finally be going back to teach art history. But preparing for her course, she comes across something she never expected. A book reveals that a small but significant painting, Madonna and Child, was destroyed in the flood of 1966. But Suzanne knows this isn't true. She knows, because with the help of her former lover, Stefano, she rescued it-after the infamous flood...
Now back in the magical city that once captured her heart, Suzanne is determined to solve the mystery of what happened to that priceless painting-and to the man who forever changed the course of her life ...
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