This historical novel is about Adele Bloch-Bauer who was the wife of Ferdinand Bloch-Bauer, a sugar baron who supported the arts. Gustav Klimt was the painter who immortalized Adele twice in his paintings. This story is based on real characters but fictionalized so as such in this story not only did Gustav paint Adele but they had an affair.
The novel takes place in alternate era's, early 1900's and WWII, told by Adele and her niece Maria Altman. Adele's portraits hung in the Bloch-Bauer household in Austria but were seized by the Nazi's and then they were in the Austrian Museum after the war. Through alternating chapters, we are given a glimpse into the lives of this family and what happened to them during the war and the Nazi's. During the reign of the Nazi's, they took into possession of valuable art, jewels and anything else of value from the Jews. This plunder took place from 1933 and through the end of the war in European countries.
Adele had stated in her will that she wanted to have the two paintings of her done by Klimt, donated to the Austrian Museum. After Ferdinand died, his own will indicated that the paintings were to be retained within the family, thus Maria Altman took the case to the American courts against the Austrian government and won the case and now the paintings are at the Neue Galerie in New York City.
Not only is this story about a family torn by a horrendous war, it is about the love of family, art, and survival. I really enjoyed this story, it is amazing to me, even after all of the books I have read of the Nazi's how destructive and demoralizing they really were to the Jews and others who were not Aryan. If you are looking for a great historical fiction to read, take a look at Stolen Beauty.