This is the first novel by Santa Montefiore that I have read and was a random choice when I was on a bit of a book buying spree. It promised to be a interesting read, a historical mystery set in France connected to a lost piece of art.
The novel begins very well, with Mischa’s retelling written in a realistic child’s voice. We get glimpses of the plot and a unique perspective because he is a child. Mischa is mute and slowly we realise that this allows him to be a spy, it is also slowly revealed that his muteness is due to a childhood trauma which is crucial to the plot. Throughout these early chapters the book kept up a good pace and felt very original.
However towards the middle of the book I did find myself losing interest. The plot became somewhat predictable and when Mischa moved into adulthood his character was less appealing and the dialogue became quite superficial and stagnated. I wanted to get to a plot twist because it felt as though too much of the middle section was retelling what I already knew or could have been left to surmise. By the time the final twists came, I had lost interest and the plotting was not enough to save this book for me. I felt disconnected from Mischa and his story by this point.
The ending is good, there are a few interesting revelations but I found the part that was supposed to be the most shocking, was in fact the most predictable. It is a shame because this book was really promising, it had so many of the things I love in a good book. It could of course be that the market is flooded with this type of fiction at the moment and I have read a lot of fantastic historical fiction recently, but for me this just isn’t a book I would recommend as a must read. I feel harsh saying that but the writing falls flat, the dialogue is stilted and the plot lost its way by about two thirds of the way through.
If you’ve read The Gypsy Madonna, I would love to know your thoughts, so please comment below.