The Miracles of Prato

From The Philadelphia Inquirer April 24, 2009

"Art and power define the life of the very real Fra Filippo Lippi in this fictional work by Laurie Albanese, a novelist, and Laura Morowitz, an art historian. The two friends teamed up for this historical novel set in mid-15th-century Tuscany, which...paints its own vibrant portrait of enduring works created within severe social constraints."
Rhoda Dickey, in The Phildelphia Inquirer. Read the review.

From the Publisher

The Miracles of Prato

Italy, 1456. The Renaissance is in glorious bloom, an age of unbridled creativity, commerce, art, and innovation. One of the most colorful men of this astonishing time is Fra Filippo Lippi, equally revered as a painter and reviled as a rogue. A great artist, he serves Cosimo de' Med ici and the Catholic Church, creating masterpieces in celebration of God and His glory. A Carmelite monk, he acts as chaplain to the nuns of the Convent Santa Margherita—and it is here, behind the cloister walls, that he encounters the greatest temptation of his life.

Laurie Lico Albanese and Laura Morowitz
Written with Laura Morowitz

Penniless and beautiful, young Lucrezia Buti has been driven to Santa Margherita more by poverty than piety. Mesmerized by Lucrezia's flawless features, Lippi sees in her face the inspiration for countless Madonnas. With the help of his powerful friends and an unscrupulous prioress, he draws upon favors that will lead to dangerous consequences, and brings the young woman to his studio to serve as his model.

Painter and muse are soon united in an exhilarating whirl of artistic discovery. As weeks and months pass, a passionate love develops between the irascible artist and the young nun, resulting in a scandalous romance that threatens to destroy them even as it fuels some of Lippi's greatest work. Their affair sparks anger, envy, and vengeance . . . and it will take a miracle of undying faith, unsurpassed beauty, and unfathomable love to save all that Lippi and Lucrezia cherish.

A gorgeous novel that brings together real and imagined characters from Italy's rich history, The Miracles of Prato is a moving and unforgettable tale of desire and devotion, both sensual and spiritual, set in an extraordinary time and place when beauty, faith, and art were celebrated above all.

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From Athena's Bookshelf Review

"This is what a good book does: sucks you in and doesn’t let go. I read the Miracles of Prato practically uninterrupted (shoo, kids, shoo) and found myself planted in Renaissance Italy in the 15th century smack dab in the middle of the convent."
Malena Lott, in Athena's Bookshelf. Read the review.

From Booking Mama Review

"I definitely enjoyed reading THE MIRACLES OF PRATO! I feel like I learned a lot of things while also getting to read an entertaining story. But, isn't that why I just love historical fiction? I had never heard of the Sacred Belt of the Virgin Mary, which is today housed in the Cathedral of Prato; and I actually found myself doing a little Internet research on the subject."
Read the review.

From the Shelf Awareness Interview

"In person, Laurie Albanese and Laura Morowitz finish each other's sentences, take only a split second to decide who's the best of the two to answer a question, laugh in the same delighted way. It's easy to see why they are such good friends and why their novel, The Miracles of Prato, reads so seamlessly and entertainingly."
John Mutter, in Shelf Awareness. Read the interview.

Advance Praise for The Miracles of Prato

"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."
Judith Lindbergh, author of The Thrall’s Tale

"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."
Debra Dean, author of The Madonnas of Leningrad

“A captivating story of artistic vision, dark betrayal, and forbidden yearnings. “
Christina Baker Kline, author of The Way Life Should Be

“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."
Eleanor Herman, author of Mistress of the Vatican