Saturday, May 13, 2017

Stolen Beauty

Stolen Beauty by Laurie Lico Albanese, 302 pages.

The parallel stories in this novel follow Adele Bloch-Bauer and Maria Altmann, two actual Austrian women, aunt and niece, through their lives, especially exploring their strength as women, and how their lives were intertwined with the paintings of Gustav Klimt. Adele, who lived in Vienna from 1862-1925, sat for two portraits by Klimt, and was the model for his portrait of the Biblical heroine Judith. Lico Albanese portrays Bloch-Bauer as an exceedingly gifted woman who struggles to maintain her ideals, identity, and passion during a time when all three of these could be taken from a woman. Her niece, Altmann, as a Jew in post-Anschuluss Vienna struggles with a much more concrete set of threats. She must keep her wits about her as she attempts to win her husband's release from Dachau and find a way for them both to get out of Austria.

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