The Miracles of Prato

The Miracles of Prato

by Laurie Albanese, Laura Morowitz


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061558351
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/02/2010
Pages: 378
Sales rank: 855,015
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Laurie Albanese is the author of the novel Lynelle by the Sea and the memoir Blue Suburbia, which was named a Book Sense Best Book of the Year and was an Entertainment Weekly Editor's Choice selection.

Laura Morowitz is a professor of art history and coauthor of Consuming the Past: The Medieval Revival in Fin-de-Siècle France. They both live in New Jersey with their families.

What People are Saying About This

Eleanor Herman

“The Miracles of Prato is a time machine, taking the reader back to the height of the Italian Renaissance, revealing a world of childlike innocence and illicit passion, harsh injustice and saintly miracles, and wafting around it all like rare perfume, the creation of art for the glory of God.”

Judith Lindbergh

“A richly detailed and thoroughly engrossing story told with equal measures of ardor, tenderness, and compassion, THE MIRACLES OF PRATO offers a poignant portrayal of the heartbreak of two people caught in the Church’s grip during the Italian Renaissance.”

Debra Dean

“Like Fra Filippo’s paintings, this love story, set in one of the most intriguing historical periods, is suffused with clear, warm color and fine attention to detail.”

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The Miracles of Prato 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
ExecJean More than 1 year ago
This story was different. I found it read-able, engaging and worth the time to read. The story is well formed, the characters well developed, and the imagery is well stated.
YoYoBird More than 1 year ago
Interesting story, though could have been more strongly written. Enjoyed details of period life. Did want to make me go see the artist's work.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1457 in Prato, Italy, artist Carmelite Order Monk Fra Filippo Lippi, commissioned to paint a picture for the convent chapel of Santa Margherita, sees the beautiful novitiate Lucrezia Buti and decides immediately he needs to paint her. He asks her to become his model for his paintings and frescoes. Excited she agrees.

However, her visits to his studio are unacceptable behavior for an unaccompanied woman although both act with proper deportment. Still her spending time alone with Lippi, a known womanizer, is a breach of faith. As the artist and his subject fall in love, she poses for his masterpiece The Holy Mother at a time when the sacred Sacra Cinola belt of the Madonna vanishes. Some in the city blame Lucrezia and want her punished even as she proclaims she remains chaste; others believe her sincerity that she remains a virgin.

Using historical references, Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz provide an intriguing biographical fiction tale of the renowned artist-monk and his most inspirational model with a deep look at the fifteenth century Italian culture that threatened to destroy them. Although in some ways the well written story line appears to be a bittersweet romance, the insight into the limitations of a poor monk vs. that of a Pope or other Medici make for an engaging tale with some intrigue as authors¿ note points out their son Filippo Lippi lived with and was trained by his father Fra Lippi and was as renowned if not more so than his father. This is an engaging look at a forbidden love whose work for the Santa Margherita nuns is on display in Florence and highlighted by Robert Browning in his Victorian poem Fra Filippo Lippi.

Harriet Klausner
zibilee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When the beautiful Lucrezia Buti and her sister Spinetta arrive on the doorstep of the Convent Santa Margherita, they are admitted with open arms and ushered into the simplicity of cloistered life. But for Lucrezia this new life is one of sadness, for until her father's unexpected death, she had been expecting to marry a handsome merchant and live her life as a wife and mother. As Lucrezia comes to fully understand the sacrifices demanded of her, she meets the monk and painter Fra Filippo Lippi. Fra Filippo is also the chaplain to the convent and during one of his routine visits he comes across the stunning Lucrezia and is immediately captured by her beauty. Wishing to use her as a model for several commissions of the Madonna that he is to paint, Fra Filippo inveigles an arrangement for Lucrezia to visit his home and workshop so that she may model for him. But Lucrezia's visits are not going unnoticed by others with great power. As Fra Filippo begins to paint the young woman, he becomes hopelessly in love with her, a dangerous situation for a monk and a novice to find themselves in. As the two become conspirators in art, unseen hands begin to threaten both of their futures, and Fra Filippo and Lucrezia begin a frightening downward spiral amidst the wondrous paintings that their forbidden union creates. In this lush and dark creation, two people long to give their souls to each other but find heartache for they have already given them to God.When I was offered the chance to review this book for my site, I was surprised to discover that it had in fact been written by two bloggers! I know there are probably a lot of bloggers out there who are working on novels of their own, or wish to, but I have never had the pleasure of reading something written by a member of my own community. I was pretty excited about reading the book, and in the end, I felt like the collaboration between Albanese and Morowitz made for a wonderful and engrossing read.When I began this book, I had a feeling that I would already be familiar with the story it tells. A pair of young girls is brought to a convent against their will after their father dies and leaves them penniless. I thought back to Sacred Hearts by Sarah Dunant, a story that had a very similar beginning. But as the story progressed, I found that this was a very different story indeed. First of all, though Lucrezia did not want to be held as a captive in the convent, she starts to conform into a chaste and virtuous woman very early on. She is humble about the situation that she finds herself in, and instead of fighting with all her might, decides to pray for enlightenment and acceptance. I found this to be a rare attitude, for I can imagine that being placed in a convent and watching your prospects dwindle away would probably be maddening and upsetting, but Lucrezia takes it all in stride and acts with grace.Fra Filippo was a different creature entirely. As a monk, he is forced to live a chaste life. This is very hard for him to do, and the reader is led to believe that the monk has had several indiscretions with easy women, problems with his finances and a lot of trouble actually completing the commissions that he has been hired to work upon. Fra Filippo is a lover of beauty, and upon seeing Lucrezia for the first time, his soul is rapturous. He has trouble concentrating on his duties as the convent's chaplain due to his hypersensitivity to Lucrezia's face and body. Though he doesn't dare dream about breaking his vows, he has trouble controlling his excitement and ardor for the young girl and works out his own arrangements to have her model for him. Though things begin in innocence, the two are quickly led astray when they realize that their interest in each other is not merely platonic. During these early scenes, I found a lot to admire about Fra Filippo. He had some slightly loose morals at times but he strove to keep himself in check and do what was expected of him as a monk and chaplain.When
thetometraveller on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Prato, Italy 1456. Twenty year old Lucrezia Buti arrives at the Convent Santa Margherita, along with her younger sister, Spinetta. The sisters lives have completely changed since the death of their father, a successful cloth merchant. They find themselves suddenly destitute, with no choice but to enter the convent. For Spinetta, who was always promised to the church, the transition is not difficult. But this is not the case for her beautiful sister. Lucrezia's future husband had been selected, she was planning to be married. With the sudden lack of a dowry all her plans are destroyed and she feels the loss keenly. She is not comfortable with the stark life of a nun, though she tries her best to adjust to the life fate has chosen for her.Fate is still at work, though. Renowned but dissolute painter Filippo Lippi has been given the job of chaplain at Santa Margherita by his patrons, the powerful Medicis. He is at a low point, lacking inspiration, when he suddenly meets Lucrezia and her beauty inspires both his painting and his heart. Lucrezia is drawn to him in return, though any relationship between a monk and a novice nun is of course completely forbidden.Beauty can be a blessing and a curse, as Lucrezia discovers when the powerful Prior General begins to force himself upon her. In desperation, she uses the uproar on the day of The Feast of the Sacred Belt to escape the convent and hide in the house of a wealthy family. But she meets Lippi on the way and ends up taking refuge in his home, instead. When the worst happens anyway, Lippi is willing to give up everything to protect her and keep her from further harm.Human nature never changes, that is what makes stories like this one resonate down through the years. Don't we always want most what we can't have? Centuries have gone by and this still remains true. And there will always be those who can't resist greed, self importance, power...the villains then are not so very different from the villains now. This is the aspect of historical fiction that I most enjoy, that a dusty old story that has had the personality and emotion eroded from it by time can be renewed and made relevant by the imagination of an author (or authors, in this case). Now I wish I'd paid more attention in the single art history class I took in college...I remember it being boring, boring, boring. Too bad the professor didn't have a little of the talent of these authors, if he had added the stories behind the paintings...well, who knows where I'd be now! If you enjoy historical fiction you'll definitely want to read The Miracles of Prato !
knittingmomof3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
From My Book Blog, Rundpinne...."Twenty-two years ago I sat in a darkened auditorium taking Art History of the Renaissance to meet a college requirement, never thinking I would ever use the knowledge beyond that semester. I truly should have paid more attention to the lectures. The Miracles of Prato by Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz is a beautifully artistic tale of Fra Filippo Lippi, an ordained Carmelite monk and famous painter, and his immediate infatuation with Lucrezia Buti¿s beauty. A story of fact intermixed with fiction; the authors take the reader deep inside the Renaissance period, the art and the powerful families of the time and especially the Medici and into the Convent Santa Margherita where they weave together a tale of what might have occurred between Fra Filippo and young Lucrezia. Albanese and Morowitz have managed to capture the essence of not only the Renaissance period (thankfully I did pay far greater attention in history classes) and life in a convent, but also added in elements of mystery, corruption, secrecy, and forbidden love. The prose takes on an artistic flair as the words, feeling, and thoughts flow across the pages and blend together in a near perfect harmony. The Miracles of Prato captures the reader from the prologue and has the reader hooked by the time the Buti sisters Spinetta and Lucrezia arrive at the Convent Santa Margherita upon the death of their father. The story is told in stunning and rich detail, the characters are finely crafted and easy to relate to, and the storyline is delicately yet expertly woven with a blend of historical fact, historical rumour, and fiction, making The Miracles of Prato a brilliantly engaging book. I especially was fascinated by the descriptions of various herbs and their uses in medicine, cooking, dyeing and silks, things the reader will learn from Sister Pureza, who ends up being one of my favorite characters. I cannot praise The Miracles of Prato enough and highly recommend it to readers as well as book discussion groups."
bachaney on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Miracles of Prato tells the story of Lucrezia Buti, a young woman who has just entered a convent against her wishes in 15th Century Prato, a town outside of Florence. Lucrezia's family had fallen on hard times, so she has been denied the marriage she always dreamed of and has to become a nun instead. Soon after entering the convent, a depressed Lucrezia catches the eye of Fra Fillipo, the convent's chaplain, and a famous monk-painter. Fillipo is intrigued by her beauty, and--seeing her as his new Madonna--asks her to model for him. The two quickly fall in love, and marry in secret after Lucrezia is the victim of a terrible crime. But what will the Church do, allow the monk and young nun a life together, or take it away? Despite an excellent subject and a strong start, The Miracles of Prato fell a little flat for me. The authors do an excellent job of capturing the atmosphere of a small convent in Italy in the 15th century, and the art they describe is beautiful. But the characters that populate this beautiful world are extremely one dimensional, and they react to their situations in a consistently helpless fashion. I know I may be a modern reader imposing my views of the past, but I like my historical romance with a bit of spunk and passion, which is lacking in Miracles. Instead, the novel is full of stereotypes, from the greedy man at the head of the church to the fallen virgin who is still a repentant angel. Although the novel is in part based on fact, these flat representations make it feel unbelievable. Although I didn't love this book overall, there were parts that were enjoyable, full of beautiful settings and scenes. It gives you a real feel for church life in Italy, and the struggles of young women at the time. I would recommend this book to fans of the Renaissance period in Italy, or students of art history, with a warning about the characters.
Kasthu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Miracles of Prato is the story of a lesser-known love affair, between the Renaissance painter Filippo Lippi, and Lucrezia Butti, a novice in the Convent of Santa Margherita in Prato. According to the authors' note in the back of the book, Lucrezia was either a novice or a young lady placed in the care of the Convent. They had two children together, one of which, Filippino, became a famous painter himself, studying under Boticelli. The story is probably a romanticized version of what really happened; doing a bit more reading, I found out that Lucrezia may have been kidnapped by Lippi, and held hostage in his home. The "miracle" of the title is the Sacra Cintola, or Sacred Belt, that is the lynchpin of part of the story. I found this book to be slow going. The writing style is excellent, but excellent writing does not a great novel make. The authors are clearly passionate about art; it's too bad that the rest of the novel can't keep up. The love story is muted, and it was hard for me to see why the painter and novice were attracted to each other in the first place. It's a pretty standard treatment of an old story. But that said, I enjoyed the historical setting; it's well-researched, and the story is an interesting composite of fact and fiction.
thejohnsmith on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An enjoyable read that is satisfying from beginning to end. A mix of real and fictional characters populate the tale set in and around the convent of Santa Margherita in 15th Century Italy. Amongst them are Fra Fillipo Lippi and Lucrezia Butti. The story follows their growing love amid the troubles and scandal that it generates. This was difficult to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Touching, also informative, romantic but not cliche
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
grapes More than 1 year ago
Fra Filippo, a Carmelite monk, and Lucrezia, a novititate, are two of the most unforgettable characters in "The Miracles of Prato" by Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz. This is Historical Fiction at it's best. The story takes place during the Fifteenth Century. During this time Fra Filippo Lippi is a monk as well as a very talented artist. One of his famous patrons is Cosimo De Medici. Lucrezia, a novititate, from the Santa Margherita convent becomes the woman who will pose as The Holy Mother for one of his paintings.

While he paints Lucrezia, Fra Lippi falls in love with this beautiful woman. Sadly, in Prato it is well known that Fra Lippi is weak when it comes to fleshly desires. Amazingly, he does not succumb to the beauty of Lucrezia. He respects her as he would the Virgin Mary. Nothing unsavory happens between he and Lucrezia during their time together in the monk's bottega.

Although these two people hold themselves above reproach, scandal takes over their lives. The monk and novititate meet all sorts of obstacles. I cried while reading the novel. I thought about the power held by men in high religious establishments. I pondered the fact that beauty can become a curse rather than a blessing to women. I wondered about marriage vows. Is there more than one way for a couple to become legally married? The novel constantly awakened thoughts and made me question age old philosophies.

"The Miracles of Prato" is also suspenseful. Fra Lippi sees a flash of red walking quickly past him more than once as he travels about the city. Who is it? There is a missing child. Where is the baby? Who took the child? Then, there is the Sacra Cinola, the belt of the Madonna. It is a Holy relic. If it does not remain in the right hands, what will happen? Is their a curse attached to the Sacra Cinola? Do miracles flow from the green and gold belt belonging to the Virgin Mary? Saint Thomas was the one who gave the Sacra Cinola to the Holy Mother.

Teresa de' Valenti is one of the people who believes she has witnessed a miracle from The Gift of Heaven. With the miraculous birth of her son, Ascanio, Teresa de' Valenti chooses to always believe in the truth and virtue of Lucrezia. More than once, she will show her appreciation to Lucrezia.

Laura Albanese and Laura Morowitz have written an extraordinary novel.It is a portrait of long lasting love. I anxiously await their next book.
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