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The Ruby Ringby Diane Haeger
Synopses & Reviews
From critically acclaimed historical novelist Diane Haeger comes The Ruby Ring, an unforgettable story of love, loss, and immortal genius . . .
Rome, 1520. The Eternal City is in mourning. Raphael Sanzio, beloved painter and national hero, has died suddenly at the height of his fame. His body lies in state at the splendid marble Pantheon. At the nearby convent of SantApollonia, a young woman comes to the Mother Superior, seeking refuge. She is Margherita Luti, a bakers daughter from a humble neighborhood on the Tiber, now an outcast from Roman society, persecuted by powerful enemies within the Vatican. Margherita was Raphaels beloved and appeared as the Madonna in many of his paintings. Theirs was a love for the ages. But now that Raphael is gone, the convent is her only hope of finding an honest and peaceful life.
The Mother Superior agrees to admit Margherita to their order. But first, she must give up the ruby ring she wears on her left hand, the ring she had worn in Raphaels scandalous nude “engagement portrait.” The ring has a storied past, and it must be returned to the Church or Margherita will be cast out into the streets. Behind the quiet walls of the convent, Margherita makes her decision . . . and remembers her life with Raphael—and the love and torment—embodied in that one precious jewel.
In The Ruby Ring, Diane Haeger brings to life a love affair so passionate that it remains undimmed by time. Set in the sumptuous world of the Italian Renaissance, its the story of the clergymen, artists, rakes, and noblemen who made Raphael and Margheritas world the most dynamic and decadent era in European history.
As the novel opens, the great Raphael has died suddenly at age 37, and all of Rome is in mourning. His mistress, Margherita, who inspired some of the artist's greatest work, is almost universally despised as a peasant who tried to rise above her station. The Pope forbade their marriage, so they lived in sin until Raphael's untimely death. Forced to seek refuge at a convent, Margherita is compelled to surrender her ruby engagement ring to the Pope's representatives--or starve in the streets. The novel then returns to a happier time to tell the story of how the artist and his muse first fell in love, as well as the role the ruby ring played in their romance. In 2000 restorers at the Palazzo Barberini X-rayed Raphael's famous nude portrait of Margherita Luti and discovered that part of the subject's hand had been painted over after the artist's death Beneath this, top layer of paint they discovered the ruby ring. Why was the ring hidden from view, and what became of its reallife counterpart? From such questions Diane Haeger has created a superlative and mesmerizing historical romance.
About the Author
Diane Haeger is the author of five previous historical novels, including My Dearest Cecelia and The Secret Wife of George IV. She lives in California.
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