The Picture Book

Susannah Keating, Author
Susannah Keating, Author William Morrow & Company $20 (256p) ISBN 978-0-688-17888-8
Reviewed on: 07/31/2000
Release date: 08/01/2000
Mass Market Paperbound - 352 pages - 978-0-06-101493-2
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A young woman travels to Rome to meet the father she never knew in this enjoyable if unremarkable romantic drama. When Patrizia Orman, a 22-year-old gallery assistant in New York City's SoHo, receives a bundle of old letters just after her mother's sudden death, her life changes dramatically. It seems that 22 years ago, Patrizia's Italian father, Masimilliano, gave pregnant Lizzie, her American mother, an ultimatum: ""I am telling you that if you have this child, I will never see you or the child again."" Defiant, Lizzie abandoned Italy and her dreams of becoming an art conservationist, and moved back home to Argyle, Wis., to bring up Patrizia. Masi was seldom mentioned while Patrizia was growing up. His letters reveal, however, that he repented his rash statement, and tried repeatedly to make contact with his daughter over the years, sending numerous checks, none of which Lizzie cashed. Feeling sorrow, confusion and anger, Patrizia travels to Italy and locates her father, now a successful art dealer in Rome. Conflicted about their relationship, Patrizia introduces herself as ""Anna,"" concealing her true identity. Meanwhile, as Patrizia, she falls in love with Andrea, a striking young Italian. Unbelievable coincidences weaken the tale: within days of meeting Masi, Patrizia is living in the artist's studio on Masi's estate and has been commissioned by him to do a painting for an exhibition. Soon the two are chatting like old friends over red wine. Of course, it is only a matter of time before Masi discovers that ""Anna"" is really his daughter. Though the denouement seems forced, and the plot familiar, Keating's debut incorporates interesting detail about Italy, art conservancy and painting. (Aug.)
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