WINNER - INTERNATIONAL RUBERY BOOK AWARD 2012
In the dying days of the 20th Century, Elfa, a restorer in Florence, is sent on a lonely assignment into the frozen hills of the Mugello. In a long-neglected church, she is to restore a 15th Century fresco by the Renaissance master, Francesco di San Lorenzo. Working alone with only the kindly local priest and his suspicious housekeeper for company, she begins to clean the painting. It is not long before she discovers the church's secret: there is another, altogether different masterpiece, hidden beneath it.
The find is unprecedented - why was this work, which rewrites art history, covered almost immediately it was finished, over 500 years before? As she carefully removes the flaking paint, going against her supervisors' orders, and the winter closes about them, Elfa discovers something even more shocking: the original fresco contains images from her own past - and a brutal incident in particular she had thought long since consigned to obscurity. Now, it is revealed before her, and the dead painter will return once more to tell his story to the only woman who can hear it.
The Restorer won the 2012 Rubery Book Award for fiction. The prize was established to profile the very best writing from independent publishers. The panel said: “The story was measured, detailed and well paced... There was some beautiful writing in this novel and lovingly careful presentation”