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Wednesday, 27 March 2019
#BookReview — The Girl from Oto (The Miramonde Series Book 1) by Amy Maroney #HistoricalFiction @wilaroney
A Renaissance-era woman artist and an American scholar. Linked by a 500-year-old mystery…
The secrets of the past are irresistible—and dangerous.
1500: Born during a time wracked by war and plague, Renaissance-era artist Mira grows up in a Pyrenees convent believing she is an orphan. When tragedy strikes, Mira learns the devastating truth about her own origins. But does she have the strength to face those who would destroy her?
2015: Centuries later, art scholar Zari unearths traces of a mysterious young woman named Mira in two 16th-century portraits. Obsessed, Zari tracks Mira through the great cities of Europe to the pilgrim’s route of Camino de Santiago—and is stunned by what she finds. Will her discovery be enough to bring Mira’s story to life?
A powerful story and an intriguing mystery, The Girl from Oto is an unforgettable novel of obsession, passion, and human resilience.
“Fortune favours the bold…”
The House of Oto bears only sons. However, there were whispers of daughters, left in the woods for the wolves to feast on. The night Pelegrín was born, Ramón de Oto, Baron of Oto in Aragón, celebrated his good fortune. However, unbeknownst to Ramón, another baby had been delivered of Marguerite de Oto, Baroness of Oto’s womb. Marguerite is determined that her husband would be forever ignorant of the daughter she had conceived. Locked away in a Pyrenees Abbey, Miramonde (Mira) must never know who she is or where she came from.
Sister Beátrice, the Abbess of Belarac Abbey, has been charged with Mira’s keeping and education. She is determined that Mira will, when she is old enough, take her vows and spend her life in quiet contemplation. However, the life of a nun is not for the likes of Mira. Mira has a gift. She can draw, and with the guidance of a master, Mira could become a great artist. And yet, Sister Beátrice cannot help but fear for the child. If the Baron of Oto discovered that he had fathered a daughter, then Mira’s life would be forfeit.
It was the summer of 2015 when art historian, Zari Durrell, arrived in Oxford to attend The Renaissance Art Conference, in a bid to continue her research into the life and work of Cornelia van der Zee. However, underneath the paintwork of what was presumed to be painted by van der Zee is another name — Mira. In her search for Mira, Zari will travel to all the great cities in Europe. Unfortunately, the more Zari learns about Mira, the more questions she has. Who was this woman? And more importantly, what happened to her?
From 15th Century Aragón to the 21st Century, The Girl From Oto (The Miramonde Series Book 1) by Amy Maroney is the shamelessly compelling story of an accomplished artist and the woman who hopes to discover the truth.
From the opening sentence, I was utterly enchanted. Maroney has painted a dazzling portrait of two very different times in history — the 15th Century and modern day. I did wonder, to begin with, how the two very contrasting eras would rub along, especially when I was so intrigued by Mira’s story. However, I soon became thoroughly enamoured in Zari’s tale as well.
I adored the characterisation of Mira. When we first meet Mira, she is a defenceless baby, but through the course of the book she grows up into a very determined young woman. Running alongside Mira’s story is that of her family — the infamous Oto’s. Ramón de Oto is a cruel and often violent man. His treatment of his wife is absolutely deplorable. In comparison, Marguerite is a wonderful, courageous lady who is resolved to protect her daughter from her vile and dangerous father. Marguerite has a quiet strength which made her a very compelling secondary character.
Mira longs for the world outside of the Abbey’s walls. She is totally unaware of how unsafe such a life is for her. Growing up, her only solace is the time she spends with the Nomadic healer, Elena de Arazas, but even then, Mira does not understand why Elena is so determined to teach her how to defend herself. All Mira wants is the freedom to travel and see the sea, along with an all-consuming desire to make her living as a painter. Mira’s naivety and her longing for adventure really helps to drive the story forward and keeps the reader engaged.
The historical detail has to be commended. It was as if I was peering through a looking glass — a magical portal through time. I thought Maroney really captured the era that her book is set in. The Girl from Oto is not only luxuriantly detailed, but the story itself is addictive to the extreme. It has enough heroes and villains to keep the reader engaged throughout. The pages practically turned themselves.
I loved this book so much. It had such an authentic feel to it, and the characters were highly appealing. I can’t wait to read Book 2!
I Highly Recommend.
Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.
Pick up your copy of The Girl from Oto
Amy Maroney lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family. She studied English literature at Boston University and public policy at Portland State University, and spent many years as a writer and editor of nonfiction before turning her hand to historical fiction. She’s currently obsessed with pursuing forgotten women artists through the shadows of history. When she’s not diving down research rabbit holes, she enjoys hiking, drawing, dancing, traveling, and reading. She’s the author of The Girl from Oto and Mira’s Way, the first two books in the Miramonde Series. The third book in the series will be published later in 2019. To receive a free prequel novella to the series, join Amy’s readers’ group at www.amymaroney.com. You can find her on Twitter @wilaroney, on Instagram @amymaroneywrites, and on Facebook.