Walker, Kathryn. A Stopover in Venice.
Cornelia, on tour with her musician husband, decides she has had enough, and impulsively, steps off the train en route to his next venue. Alone in Venice and caught between despair over her unhappy marriage and anger at her husband, Cornelia gets a room at the Hotel Gritti Palace.
After a long rest, she decides to take advantage of the time to explore the city. In her wanderings, she discovers some boys harassing a small dog. Cornelia rescues the tiny Chihuahua, names him Leo, and forms an immediate and strong bond. He lifts her spirit and her courage, and she imagines him hers, smuggling him into the hotel. Leo then accompanies Cornelia on her perambulations through Venice.
Until, that is, a stranger accosts her in the street asking about the dog. Leo, he explains, belongs to an elderly contessa who is heartbroken by his loss. Cornelia, while devastated at having to give up her companion, returns Leo to the delighted contessa. As events transpire, the contessa invites Cornelia to spend the night, and further adventures ensue.
Matteo, a restorationist, has been working on a fresco discovered under modern plaster that may have been painted by a famous master of the early 16th century. Here begins a parallel narrative concerning the painter and the fresco, involving Cornelia, Matteo, and the contessa as they research the painter, the house itself, and a convent.
Restoration becomes a mystery, an investigation, a motif--but is Cornelia restored to herself?
Interesting -- Just discovered (after Nancy & Nicole tried to pin me down on an opinion of the novel) that the novel may be a Roman a` clef. Check out this article about who the famous musician husband really is!
Other Reviews: The Preppy Yogini and Read Around the World
Fiction. Historical mystery. 2008. 306 pages.