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Thursday, November 16, 2023

Saving Madonna by Kate Bristow - Book Tour - Guest Post - Giveaway - Enter Daily!

Hi, lovelies!!  It gives me great pleasure today to host Kate Bristow and her new book, “Saving Madonna,” here on FAB!!  For other stops on her Goddess Fish Promotions Book Tour, please click on the banner above or any of the images in this post.

Be sure to make it to the end of this post to enter to win a $25 Amazon OR Barnes and Noble Gift Card!!  Also, come back daily to interact with Kate and to increase your chances of winning!!

Thanks for stopping by!!  Wishing you all lots of good luck in this fabulous giveaway!!

Saving Madonna

by Kate Bristow


GENRE:   Historical Fiction



Is a painting worth dying for?

Inspired by real events, an unforgettable story of love, courage and sacrifice to save a country’s heritage.

Italy 1943. As the Allies bomb Milan, Elena Marchetti reluctantly gives up her coveted job as an art curator in the city to return to her family farm near Urbino. She takes up a new role assisting Pasquale Rotondi, the Superintendent of Arts in the region, in protecting works of art from all over Italy that have been hidden in the relative safety of the countryside.

At a family celebration, Elena reunites with Luca, a close childhood friend. A shattering event instigated by the occupying Germans deepens their relationship, and they start planning a life together. When rumors surface that Italy’s art is being stolen by the German occupiers, Pasquale hatches an audacious plan to rescue the priceless paintings in his possession. Elena and Luca are forced to make an impossible decision: will they embark on a dangerous mission to save Italy’s cultural heritage?



Luca was getting frustrated. Two weeks had passed since he had stood up for Elena during the argument about the truck, and he was no closer to procuring her any sort of transport. He had visited all the neighboring farms, except for the one owned by Signor Bruni, to find out if there was any chance of borrowing a vehicle. He had not been surprised to learn that nobody wanted to give up their precious trucks or cars. Even those who had been without fuel for months still clung to the hope that somehow they might be able to find some. It did not help that very few thought that helping the superintendent was a priority given the more immediate issues they were dealing with.

“I have six children to feed, two cows that are ailing, a fence that needs mending, and more besides,” complained Signor Conti when Luca had stopped to talk to him that afternoon after coming upon the farmer struggling with barbed wire on the edge of one of his fields. “I can tell you now, moving some paintings around is not at the top of my list. I can’t imagine you’ll find many takers in these parts, son.” Signor Conti looked at him kindly. “I am not saying I want the Germans to take them either. Don’t get me wrong.” He let off a stream of expletives, as if to emphasize how much he despised the occupiers. “I just think we have to focus on what we can control rather than the things we can’t.”



World-building can be the most important element of your book.  What media outlets, role-models and real-life inspirations did you draw from while writing this book?

This is a photo of the view of the valley from the rear of my Italian home.

Writing a novel about a place you call home forces you to look at everything you take for granted with new eyes. I am fortunate enough to own a five-hundred-year-old farmhouse just outside the beautiful Renaissance city of Urbino in Italy, and it has always troubled me that such an incredible area with an inspiring history is not better known to outsiders. So when I stumbled across the true story of Pasquale Rotondi and his dramatic quest to save ten thousand pieces of priceless artworks from the occupying German army during World War 2, I saw an opportunity to write a novel about it and at the same time share this extraordinary part of the world with readers.

In ‘Saving Madonna’, my main protagonists, Elena and Luca, live in two neighboring farmhouses in the countryside. I based Luca’s home on my own, and as I had restored the house when I purchased it and knew it intimately, I was able to recreate on the page what living in such a home would have been like in the 1940s. Elena’s home was similarly conjured up from the homes of my Italian neighbors.

This is the Rocca in Sassocorvaro, a key location in my novel.

The main events in the story take place in two locations. Sassocorvaro is a small town fifteen minutes from my house dominated by an ancient fortress, the Rocca, which has a starring role in the book. It was interesting to visit the Rocca once I started writing and to look at everything afresh. I spent some time talking to one of the knowledgeable people who works there and it turned out that Silvano had known Pasquale Rotondi personally. This was an exciting moment for me and Silvano’s patience and knowledge were instrumental in helping me develop the character and the story.

This is the façade of the Ducal Palace in Urbino, another critical location in the book.

The other important location is Urbino and particularly the Ducal Palace which dominates the city. I have visited the palace on numerous occasions over the past twenty years, usually bringing my house guests on a lightning tour of the art gallery within. But once I was committed to writing the novel, I found myself revisiting again and again by myself, studying every room, every brick, every painting, to ensure that I was doing the place justice. I even had to rewrite several chapters after one visit when I realized that an arch through which I had driven a truck in my imagination was nowhere wide enough for such a thing to occur in real life!

Writing historical fiction means having to do a lot of research to ensure that you have your facts right. That task was complicated for me because many of my most valuable sources were written in Italian, a language I have a basic understanding of but not much better than that. So reading and interpreting those articles took a significant amount of time but I am happy that I made the effort. I believe that readers appreciate it when writers strive for verisimilitude and I try very hard to double check anything that I claim to be true. My dear friend Angela Petch, a bestselling writer of Italian historical fiction, sent me numerous notes on one of my drafts, asking me questions about Italian road signs during the war and what happens when dynamite decays. These are the friends you need!

As for my Italian characters, some of them are based on historical figures and the rest are amalgams of people I know. I have been joking with my Italian friends for years that I was stealing their names for my characters. My wonderful friend Gianni who has retired from his career in a Milanese bank was amused to discover that he has been recreated as a cheeky eight year old boy. I did make sure that none of my villains were recognizable as friends of mine!

I hope that readers are not only inspired by the courage shown by the Italians in ‘Saving Madonna’ in protecting their cultural heritage despite the danger of doing so but that those same readers might also be inspired to plan a visit to Urbino and its surrounding countryside. If you do you will discover an unspoiled part of a country that attracts millions of visitors a year. It offers stunning beaches, mountains and valleys, beautiful hilltop towns and villages, historic attractions and incredible food and wine. But above all you will find a welcome from some of the warmest people I know.



Kate Bristow was born in London. She fell in love with reading when she got her first library card at the age of four. Her first attempt at writing and publishing for a wide audience was a local newspaper typed laboriously at home on her mother’s typewriter while at primary (elementary) school in north London. It is surely a loss to cutting-edge journalism that only one issue was ever produced. Kate divides her time between her small-but-perfectly-formed modern home in Los Angeles and her five-hundred-year-old farmhouse just outside Sassocorvaro in Italy.











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Kate will be awarding a $25 Amazon OR Barnes and Noble Gift Card (Winner’s Choice!!!) to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

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This contest is sponsored by a third party. Fabulous and Brunette is a registered host of Goddess Fish Promotions.  Prizes are given away by the sponsors and not Fabulous and Brunette. The featured author and Goddess Fish Promotions are solely responsible for the giveaway prize.