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The Ruby Ring
by Diane Haeger

Category: Fiction / Historical
384 pages; ISBN: 1400051738

Rating: 9/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Harriet Klausner


The Ruby Ring
Diane Haeger
Three Rivers, Apr 2005, $12.95, 384 pp.
ISBN: 1400051738

In 1520 Rome, before he died beloved artist Raphael Sanzio arranged for his beloved Margherita Luti, the model for his Madonna paintings, to safely stay at Sant'Apollonia. However, as the adored painter rests at the Pantheon for all to see, the Mother Superior informs Margherita’s escort Signor Romano that the powerful vindictive Cardinal Bibbiena wants her living on the street. Romano succeeds in getting her into the convent by offering three hundred florins and THE RUBY RING that Margherita still wears.

Margherita reflects back to when she, the daughter of a local baker, met the love of her life six years ago when Raphael was the Pope’s favorite. He asked her and her father for her to model. Her father urged her to accept and she did. The rest is history as he found his Madonna in her and as Romano says she made him a better person. How she wonders can she give up the most valuable keepsake from the man she loves; but can she survive constant harassment from the Church.

THE RUBY RING is a terrific historical fictionalized account of Margherita Luti and the great artist Raphael Sanzio. The story line hints at a bittersweet ending although the tale mostly occurs during the six years of shared love between the artist and Margherita. Diane Hager, who is one of the best at providing fictionalized accounts of great historical love stories (see THE SECRET WIFE OF KING GEORGE IV), provides a fantastic glimpse at the Italian Renaissance to include the artistic rivalries and jealousies (though a different era and place reminded me of the movie Amadeus), especially the underbelly of decadence from the sponsoring Vatican and secular rulers.

Harriet Klausner


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