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Waking Raphael


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First novel, BOMBAY ICE was a top ten bestseller; film option sold to Warner Bros. Candidate for all fiction promotions/prizes BOMBAY ICE - 'Only bribery or collective insanity could prevent it being shortlisted for best thriller of the year.' Sunday Times.

About the Author

Born in Canada, Leslie Forbes has worked in London as a writer, artist and broadcaster for over 20 years. She is the author of four award-winning travel books, including the worldwide bestseller A Table in Tuscany, and the presenter of many celebrated BBC radio series, several based in Italy. Her first novel, Bombay Ice, published in 1998, was an international bestseller and her second, Fish, Blood & Bone (2000) was nominated for the Orange prize.


The Da Vinci Code meets Captain Corelli's Mandolin in this top-notch literary thriller. The recently divorced Charlotte Penton escapes London for the town of Urbino in the Italian countryside to lead a restoration project on an enigmatic painting by Raphael known as La Muta, or "the Mute Woman." When the canvas is viciously gouged by a mute cleaning woman, blood begins dripping from the wounds, drawing pilgrims far and wide in search of a miracle. Vatican investigators, debunkers, and media crews also descend upon Urbino to witness the spectacle. Charlotte suspects that the cleaning woman is hiding out near the bell tower of San Rocco, a crumbling fortress on the edge of town. But the more Charlotte delves into the history of the tiny, scarred village, the more she learns about the horrifying atrocities that occurred there during World War II and the widespread cover-up that followed. With touches of magic realism, Forbes (Bombay Ice; Fish, Blood and Bone) adds mystery to a novel that combines art, Catholicism, government corruption, political history, and a dash of romance. Vivid scenery and richly detailed characters add depth. Highly recommended.-Christine Perkins, Burlington P.L., WA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

A thriller set in Urbino, which was the painter Raphael's birthplace. The tale is related as a series of miracles, which culminate in what happened at San Rocco during the Second World War. It is a magical story and involves many people, including Muta the enigmatic mute, Donna the Canadian TV presenter who is lusted after by the Count and poses naked for him, Charlotte the picture restorer and Francesco the ice-cream maker who knows he must not reveal his secret. The characters are drawn with great skill and the whole book is a marvellous experience.

Forbes, who set her first two literary thrillers in lush, fascinating India, turns to Europe in her excellent third, to the idyllic Italian town of Urbino, birthplace of the painter Raphael. Recently divorced, Charlotte Penton is the latest in a long line of repressed Englishwomen who travel to Italy-in Charlotte's case, to supervise the restoration of a Raphael portrait, La Muta-and find their lives transformed. Decidedly unrepressed is beautiful, not terribly smart Donna Ricco, a member of a film company hired to document the restoration. Outside Urbino lies the abandoned hamlet of San Rocco, whose only inhabitant, the crazy Muta, lives secretly in a ruined cellar. Charlotte brushes up against the mystery of the WWII disappearance of San Rocco's residents and finds herself, along with Donna, drawn into the dark questions surrounding it. The old men of Urbino spend their days plotting in cafes, watching Charlotte and Donna stumble toward truths the men don't want known. The horror of the past is eventually exposed by a chain of events beginning with the slashing of the freshly restored Raphael painting. The secret is of killing and worse: "All those foul acts of which men are capable when God turns his face away from mankind." The characters are richly drawn, from the suave count to the pig farmer. Entranced readers will find the secrets of San Rocco uncovered, layer by layer, not unlike Charlotte's painstaking restoration of Raphael's painting. There's more than a touch of magic realism involved, interwoven with fascinating facts about history, religion, painting, miracles and more. This novel will captivate and delight. Agent, Barbara Levy. (June 29) Forecast: Booksellers can make comparisons to Umberto Eco, Iain Pears and Peter Hoeg-as Bantam did on the galley-and trust that Forbes's sales will be high. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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