The Gypsy Madonna – Santa Montefiore

This is the story of Mischa who when his mother dies leaving a piece of priceless art to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, embarks on trying to find out the truth about who this art really did belong to and how his mother came to have it and he knew nothing about it.

Santa Montefiore takes us back to France after the war, where Mischa was born to a German father and where his mother paid for this sin watched on by a local crowd and the priest. This action rendered Mischa mute until a mysterious American, Coyote comes into their lives and changes everything.

Coyote has power over everyone, and Mischa believes that someone else loves him as much as his mother does, and through this love and belief his voice comes back one Sunday during Mass. Prompting the locals to believe that God has had an influence and that the priest must know. But the priest is harbouring his own secret? And what exactly is Coyote doing in this part of France?

Mischa moves to America with his mother and Coyote and begins the next stage of his life, where when one day Coyote walks out and never comes back, Mischa turns to crime, hurting people and sheer hatred. Although his actions can be seen as mere teenage excessiveness the hatred he has seems to go with him throughout his life. Only when he tries to discover the truth about the painting does this hatred disappear and love seems to flow from him.

I found this book rather wishy-washy. Montefiore portrays the young Mischa with all the knowledge of a man and the older Mischa with the naivety of a boy and this although perhaps intentional actually annoyed me. I could not warm to Mischa, nor any of the other characters and I felt that this affected the whole plot for me. The conclusion and the truth behind the painting seem to have happened within a few pages, and I felt that I had missed something?

Montefiore has written in my opinion far better books than this one. And whilst the premise is a good one, there was too much chopping and changing around for me in terms of characters and places and I felt that I did not get time to know them as I have in her other books.

I was really disappointed in this book, and at one point actually wanted to put it down unfinished. But I ploughed onto the end. Reflecting on it I think if I knew the painting they were referring to perhaps it might have had an impact. Art is not one of my strong areas, although I wish it was. This is what they are referring to:
I have to confess I am none the wiser. I think I was disappointed by the book, because I have read other books by Santa Montefiore and enjoyed them; Sea of Lost Love and The Butterfly Box. My reviews can be found at the links. I pick up another of her novels with more trepidation I think in the future.