The Gypsy Madonna

Santa Montefiore, Author . Touchstone $15 (372p) ISBN 978-0-7432-7889-8

British author Montefiore (Last Voyage of the Valentina ) offers up an uneven mix of family intrigue and international mystery in her latest. When Anouk, the ailing mother (and business partner) of Manhattan antiques dealer Mischa, donates The Gypsy Madonna , a previously unknown Titian painting, to the Met shortly before her death, Mischa is astonished; he never knew she owned the painting. After Mischa vows to discover how the artwork came into his mother's possession, the novel flashes back to his troubled childhood in postwar Bordeaux, France. He and Anouk are shunned by their fellow villagers, but after a charismatic American, Coyote, arrives and wins Anouk's and Mischa's hearts, the dashing stranger's celebrity-like status among the locals rubs off on Mischa and Anouk. The three, at Coyote's insistence, move to New Jersey, but after several years of playing house, Coyote disappears, and Mischa begins to run with a rough crowd. Graphic sex scenes add grit, but Mischa's coming-of-age mostly putters along until the book's concluding section, when Mischa's globe-trotting investigation into the truth about the painting lays bare a number of secrets. Unfortunately, the bulk of the book is an extended flashback that lacks narrative urgency. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 11/27/2006
Release date: 03/01/2007
Ebook - 496 pages - 978-1-4165-3913-1
Paperback - 372 pages - 978-0-340-83654-5
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