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Hardcover With a Gemlike Flame: A Novel of Venice and a Lost Masterpiece Book

ISBN: 0786708778

ISBN13: 9780786708772

With a Gemlike Flame: A Novel of Venice and a Lost Masterpiece

Common sense dictates that it simply cannot exist -- the "Leopardi Madonna," a glorious treasure by the fifteenth-century master Santi Raphael. All the reference books and reliable scholarship... This description may be from another edition of this product.


Format: Hardcover

Condition: Very Good

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Customer Reviews

5 ratings

artist's review

This is a great read. It is one of the few books that stays with you long after you're finished. This story appealed to me on several levels. It touches on the beauty and mystery of the art and history of the Renaissance as in the current literary genre of "The Da Vinci Code" and "The Rule of Four." There is a beautifully flowing and sensuous vision of the city of Venice throughout. It's a compilation of intriguing and talented rogues and characters dating from the Italy and Germany of WW II to present day Europe. It's a gut-check morality tale of where greed, ego and pride can lead man in his worldly pursuit of the ultimate "prize." And, finally, there is a good old, intense, passionate, physical and intellectual relationship between Jordan and Katie that is warmly reminiscent of Bogie and Bacall. This book has it all. Read it. William Kelley, Florence, Italy

Not another art-crime detective novel

When I tell you that this book revolves around a long-thought-lost Raphael painting, and one man's attempt to buy it and discover its secrets, not necessarily in that order, you'd be forgiven for thinking that you know what you're in for -- another art-crime detective novel. But you'd be wrong and, like me, pleasantly surprised. For this book stresses the art above the crime, and is far more about the man on its trail, than the twists in the trail. And the lost Raphael Madonna is so lovingly described you know why he becomes obsessed. And there's a fair bit of raunchy sex, too, with a woman he meets and enlists, and you can see why he'd want her as well. Along with the art and the sex there's Venice, oh and they eat ice cream - what more can you ask for? The prose style hits a few purple patches at the start, but soon settles down, with some fine business around our hero's mental state and life view. He's an odd, but believable, cove, who's sensitive to art but a bit of a bastard, and more than somewhat of a cynic. You'll care, I think, and be moved to visit Venice, eat ice cream, and...well, the rest's up to you. Historical note: this novel mentions that the famous and swanky Hotel Bauer Grunwald was the Nazi's hotel of choice during WWII and that the Gestapo used it for torturing. I assume that this is an historical fact, but it's not mentioned on their web-page, funnily enough.

"Gem-Like Flame" Is a Gem

Though this is nominally a mystery novel, it really is a tour de force of erudition, diabolical intrigue, raunchiness and sexiness. One need not be knowledgable about the art world--which this reviewer certainly is not--to be swept up in David Adams Cleveland's tour through the art and architecture of Renaissance Venice and his portrayal of the international cast of eccentrics and evildoers (dating back to Nazi Germany) who would own Venice's treasures. As a writer, Cleveland deploys with equal facility the elevated prose of the art world and the grittier language of the back channels of Venice. It adds up to fast and riveting reading.

High praise for Gemlike Flame

Set in atmospheric Venice and tracing the intrigues of international art dealers competing for Rafael's lost "Leopardi Madonna," this first novel by David Adams Cleveland caught my attention immediately. And this suspenseful book far exceeded even my high expectations. Cleveland displays a sophisticated knowledge of artwork and powerfully evokes the WWII period during which the masterpiece was confiscated from an Italian Jewish family. His portrait of Venice convincingly evokes the city's contrasts, and the plot twists are truly surprising. This book should appeal to any discerning reader who loves Venice, mysteries or art! I am planning to give several copies as holiday gifts.

Soaring Visual Images

Cleveland's first novel is a fast paced chase over the bridges and on the canals of Venice which the author obviously knows well. After a wordy start he soon gains his stride with the tale of sleuth and intrigue among the varied players in the private auction of a missing Raphael madonna masterpiece, or is it a perfect forgery? His characters, vehicles for the plot, are not always fleshed out and the reader doesn't necessarily become attached to them, though his Venetian mentor is a stunning exception. Cleveland soars with visual images:"violin melodies pouring like pink confetti," "an oasis in a watery dessert," and "Raindrops began a soft pecking." His reverence for visual beauty is positively contageous; his action is worthy of an Indiana Jones matinee; and his sophistocated yet comprehendible appreciation of art make this a great summer...hmmm... make that weekend read.
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