Stolen Beauty by Laurie Lico Albanese

laurieRelease date: February 1, 2017

Book Blurb from Goodreads.com

From the dawn of the twentieth century to the devastation of World War II, this exhilarating novel of love, war, art, and family gives voice to two extraordinary women and brings to life the true story behind the creation and near destruction of Gustav Klimt’s most remarkable paintings.

In the dazzling glitter of 1903 Vienna, Adele Bloch-Bauer—young, beautiful, brilliant, and Jewish—meets painter Gustav Klimt. Wealthy in everything but freedom, Adele embraces Klimt’s renegade genius as the two awaken to the erotic possibilities on the canvas and beyond. Though they enjoy a life where sex and art are just beginning to break through the façade of conventional society, the city is also exhibiting a disturbing increase in anti-Semitism, as political hatred foments in the shadows of Adele’s coffee house afternoons and cultural salons.

Nearly forty years later, Adele’s niece Maria Altmann is a newlywed when the Nazis invade Austria—and overnight, her beloved Vienna becomes a war zone. When her husband is arrested and her family is forced out of their home, Maria must summon the courage and resilience that is her aunt’s legacy if she is to survive and keep her family—and their history—alive.

Will Maria and her family escape the Nazis’ grip? And what will become of the paintings that her aunt nearly sacrificed everything for?

My Review:

This book is about the lives of Adele Bloch-Bauer and her niece, Maria Altmann and their connection to the painter Gustav Klimt.

Adele was raised in Vienna and as a child was bright and curious. Because she was a girl, she had been limited by her parents to what she could learn and study. She met her husband, Ferdinand at her sister’s engagement party. He was much older, established, and provided her with a cultured life with access to the artistic community.

Through a mutual friend Adele meets Klimt and he arranges for her to model for him. They meet weekly in his studio where more than a friendship develops. When the portrait Judith I is unveiled it reflects a bare breasted woman strongly resembling Adele featuring a unique necklace that she has worn at social events. Ferdinand is embarrassed by the revealing painting of his wife and the implications.

In 1938, Maria Altmann is a newlywed when the Nazi party invades Austria. Her husband’s family business along with their assets are confiscated. During this time, she finds out that her uncle Ferdinand has had his assets seized as well. He is forced to abandon his building containing all of his artwork, including portraits of the late Adele.

This book does a tremendous job of detailing the lives behind the famous painting commonly known as The Woman in Gold. I was aware of the lawsuit behind the painting, but not of the lives of these two women which the book pleasantly recounts. The dialogue between the characters felt genuine while making you feel their emotions. I really enjoyed this book and did not want it to end!

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