Art restorer Marina Nesmith’s life seems flawless, but Marina is conscious of what she lacks – especially the courage to tell her teenage daughter, Zoe, the truth about her father. Then Marina is invited to return to Florence, where she learned her trade as a gilder years ago. Now, as past and present collide, Marina must find the life that she – and Zoe – have been looking for.
As a young woman, Marina Nesmith traveled to Florence to study gilding. She immersed herself in the beauty of the city and its culture. It’s there that she meets a photographer named Thomas and his wife Sarah. The close relationship that forms between them is complex, and Marina is especially confused by her feeling toward Sarah. One day a rash mistake changes Marina’s life forever. Instead of hurting Sarah with the truth, Marina flies back to the United States, where she builds lie upon lie to cover up what she has done. It’s not until almost 16 years later that she returns to Florence to finally face the truth.
The story is told in two parts: one when Marina is 23, and one when she has a 15-year old daughter. I was so absorbed in this story, I read it in one day. It’s obvious that her daughter Zoe is the most important thing in Marina’s life, and the lies she created were meant to protect her. But at what cost? This book was an emotional read, and it made me wonder how Marina’s life would have been different if she’d just been honest with Sarah and Thomas from the beginning.
Not only did I become invested in the lives of the characters, but I was drawn in by the rich descriptions of Florence also. The city sounds spectacular, and since I’m not a traveler, reading this book may be as close to Florence as I get. The Gilder is a poignant story about strong women, friendship, betrayal and forgiveness. I would recommend this book to fans of women’s fiction/contemporary fiction.
Rating: 4½ Stars
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.