Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Book Review: Stolen Beauty by Laurie Lico Albanese

First line: I was a love-struck newlywed when Hitler came to Austria.

I wanted so badly to love this book, from its stunning cover to its fabulous first line, but sadly, this one just fizzled out for me midway. It took me almost three months, to the day, to finish this book, because I spent two months ignoring it. However, I seem to be in the minority, so don't take my word for it!

The premise and characters are interesting enough, so I think this is really a case of it's-me-not-you with this book. The story alternates between Adele Bloch-Bauer, Austrian socialite and figure of many of Klimt's most famous paintings, and her niece, Maria Altmann. Both women live in fascinating times: Austria from the late 19th century through World War II, and both women live in a world of privilege and prejudice.

There's a variety of plot threads woven through the novel -- marital drama for both Adele and Maria, Adele's patronage of the arts and her passion for Klimt, Maria's struggles to survive first a move to the UK and then to the US -- and while the book doesn't lose track of these threads or overload the story, I still didn't find myself particularly captured by anything. Adele's affair with Klimt never felt particularly compelling, and I really only enjoyed Maria when she was working to reclaim her family's art (the last 10% of the book). Everything in-between was just ... I don't know. Stuff.

Like I said, most everyone -- from big publications to book bloggers I trust -- loved this book, so take this review with a grain of salt.

Title: Stolen Beauty
Author: Laurie Lico Albanese

Genre: Fiction (Historical / late 19th century / 20th Century / Art / Vienna / World War II / Klimt / Historical Figure Fictionalized / Marriage)
Publisher/Publication Date: Atria Books (2/7/2017)
Source: NetGalley
Reading Challenges: Historical Fiction


  1. I was looking forward to this because I enjoyed another book by this author. Sorry it didn't work for you.

  2. This sounded very interesting, but if it didn't work for you fair enough. Honest review.