Author: Kathryn Kay
Publisher: Kensington Publishing (January 1, 2012)
Source: Received from publisher via Crazy Book Tours
Book description from Amazon:
Set against the exquisite backdrop of Florence, Italy, The Gilder is a compelling and beautifully wrought novel of secrets, friendship, betrayal, and the simple choices that change us forever. . .
In Marina Nesmith's skilled hands, even the most tarnished picture frame or objet d'art can be made perfect once again. Her life, too, seems flawless, at least on the surface. But more and more, Marina is conscious of what she lacks--someone to share her joys and sorrows with, confidence in the decisions she's made, and the courage to tell her teenage daughter, Zoe, the truth about her father.
Then Marina is invited to return to Florence, where she lived years before while learning her trade as a gilder. In those heady days, she wandered the city's picturesque streets, marveling at the masterpieces in the Duomo and the Pitti Palace. In the church of Santa Croce, she met Thomas, an American photographer who, along with his wife Sarah, introduced Marina to a thrilling, bohemian world of art and beauty. Through them, she also learned about love, lies, and the way one mistake can multiply into many. Now, as her past and present collide, Marina will finally have to move beyond the intricate veneer she's crafted around herself, and find the life that she--and Zoe--have been looking for.
Following college, Kathryn Kay spent five years living in Florence, Italy, where she studied restoration and gilding. Kathryn is the founder of the Nantucket Writers Studio, which offers writing workshops for women. She has three adult children, and lives on Nantucket Island with her husband, Robert.
I didn't know what to expect coming into this book. I have always wanted to travel to Europe and Italy in particular so when I read the blurb, I was definitely interested as an armchair traveler. The author, Kathryn Kay, spent five years living in Florence, Italy post-college where she studied restoration and gilding. She fills this story with so many intricate details about Florence and gilding that sometimes it is very easy to think that it is a true story even though it is fictional.
I enjoyed Part 1 of the story a lot because the main character, Marina, is young and innocent as she begins her life in Florence to study gilding. I especially love the details of her life in Florence in the bohemian world as an artist. She develops friendships and relationships with some very interesting characters in Florence that have a huge impact on her life later because of the decisions she's made along the way. I enjoyed how the author flashes us back from the first chapter because you know what to expect, but you don't know how it's going to happen.
At the same time, I was a little bit overwhelmed by all the art terms and vocabulary. I found myself on Wikipedia a lot just to get a better idea of what to picture in my mind when Marina was working on a project. I was also uncomfortable as it explored Marina's relationship with Sarah because it was unexpected for me.
In the 2nd part of the story, Marina is given the invitation to go back to Florence again much later in life and she does not want to take her teenage daughter, Zoe, because she has done everything to protect her from the truth. However, Zoe feels like she deserves to know the truth about her father. This challenges their relationship as mother and daughter because Marina's past and present come crashing together despite all that she has done to hide the weaknesses in her life which is symbolic in the work she does as a gilder.
Overall, I enjoyed this read about women, friendship, betrayal, and redemption, but it didn't quite grab me in the way I hoped it would.
3 out of 5 stars
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