Waking Raphael

Weidenfeld & Nicolson

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1993: in a country rocked by corruption trials involving government, big business and the Vatican, people in the idyllic small city of Urbino, Raphael's birthplace, appear more concerned with love affairs than politics, their only worry an outbreak of spurious miracles. Then Count Malaspino returns after years away and his support for the restoration of Raphael's La Muta ('the mute woman') drives a living mute to an act of violence.

Does this woman know something terrible about Malaspino's past? Did she witness a literally unspeakable crime that could shatter the peace of Urbino? Her continued silence seems to be in everyone's interest except the gentle art restorer Charlotte Penton's -- and that of a television crew fronted by Donna Ricco, who can't shut up to save her life... or anyone else's.

There are as many liars as 'mutes' in Waking Raphael... Charlotte's bitter divorce has left her incapable of expressing herself except through painting. Her assistant, Paolo, won't confess his infatuation to the glamorous Donna for fear of exposing his dangerous private schemes; Donna, in turn, iies about her feelings for him. Fabio's response to his fascist grandfather is to pose mutely as a statue of Raphael. Francesco the ice-cream maker knows it is suicide to speak out against Count Malaspino, who has always remained silent about his past -- and present -- life.

But things cannot remain the same. Charges made to the Committee for Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal draw Italy's foremost investigators of miracles to Urbino, as well as scores of believers, and the city turns into a dangerous circus where charlatans mingle with mafia hit-men. The resulting dramatic court cases requires testimonies from several unlikely witnesses -- two of them dead.

Format: Hardcover
Year published: 2003

Pages: 374
Mystery; literary fiction.
Imprint: Weidenfeld & Nicolson

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