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MORE NOVELS BY LAURIE LICO ALBANESE
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- Fugitive Colors by Lisa Barr
- Lisette's List by Susan Vreeland
- Love and Treasure by Ayelet Waldman
- Pictures at an Exhibition by Sara Houghteling
- Pictures of the Past by Deby Eisenberg
- Pieces from Berlin by Michael Pye
- Rembrandt's Shadow by Janet Lee Berg
- The Fortunate Ones by Ellen Umansky
- The Life of Objects by Susanna Moore
- The Lost Letter by Jillian Cantor
- The Muralist by B.A. Shapiro
- The Painted Kiss by Elizabeth Hickey
- Art in Vienna 1898-1918 by Peter Vergo
- Hitler's Art Thief by Susan Ronald
- The Forger's Spell by Edward Dolnick
- The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund De Waal
- The Lady in Gold by Anne Marie O'Connor
- The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel
- The Orpheus Clock by Simon Goodman
- The Rape of Europa by Lynn H. Nicholas
- What Life Was Like at Empire's End: Austro-Hungarian Empire, AD 1848-1918
Discussion Questions (Source)
- During Adele’s life, there’s an ongoing debate about which is more essential, beauty in art, or truth in art. What do you believe the primary aim of art should be? Why? Are beauty and/or truth integral to artistic works? Why, or why not?
- Do you think Adele loved Gustav Klimt, or just the lifestyle he represented? Do you think Adele loved her husband?
- In retaliation to his critics, Klimt paints Adele as the heroic Jewish widow Judith. Do you think his response is effective? Why or why not? On page 78, Klimt claims, “There’s no solution in words. . . . The only answer is art.” What does he mean by this? Do you agree/disagree?
- Throughout the book, sex and death are connected visually and in the characters’ minds. Find some passages that illustrate this connection. Why do you think this is a significant motif?
- Both Maria and Adele must contend with the issue of faithlessness in marriage. What are the different messages the two stories provide? What do you believe is more important: fidelity, honesty, or freedom?
- Another parallel in Maria and Adele’s marriages is the presence of double standards. How is each woman held to a different standard than her husband? What are the similarities and differences between the roles of women during these two generations? How do they compare to expectations for women today?
- While reading, did you find yourself identifying more with Adele or with Maria? In what ways did you connect to them?
- Discuss the role of national and religious identity in the book. What does it mean to Adele to be Jewish? What does it mean to her to be Viennese? How do these characteristics relate to each other? How does Adele’s relation to being Viennese or Jewish change for her over the course of the book?
- In pages 214 to 216, Maria’s mother asks her if her children will be Jewish, and whether they will speak German, reflecting anxieties she holds about life in the Jewish diaspora. How does the book depict the impact of emigration on Maria’s family? In what ways do Maria’s relationships with Judaism and Vienna parallel or diverge from Adele’s?
- Was there anything that surprised you about the book’s depiction of the Nazi annexation of Austria?
- Maria consistently describes Ferdinand as devoted to his wife Adele, claiming “my uncle had never stopped loving her” (page 216). Where do you see the presence or absence of this adoration in the chapters from Adele’s perspective?
- Maria admires her aunt Adele and strives to live up to her example. Are there figures in your family or life who you feel driven to emulate?
- As a group, watch the movie The Woman in Gold starring Helen Mirren as Maria Altmann. Afterward, discuss how the film’s depiction of Maria compares with that in Stolen Beauty. Are there aspects of the book that you wish had been portrayed in the movie, or vice versa?
- For more information about Adele Bloch-Bauer and Gustav Klimt’s portraits of her, consider reading The Lady in Gold by Anne-Marie O’Connor, upon which the movie The Woman in Gold was based. Compare and contrast O’Connor’s nonfiction with Laurie Lico Albanese’s novelization of the Bloch-Bauers’ lives. What are the strengths and benefits of fictionalizing their stories?
- A number of artistic movements and artists are referred to in Stolen Beauty, some in passing and some more deeply considered. As a group, look up the artwork of some of the artists and movements mentioned: the Impressionists, the Symbolists, the Secessionists, the Expressionists, Gustav Klimt, Ferdinand Georg Waldmüller, Rudolf von Alt, Edgar Degas, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Edvard Munch, Carl Moll, Auguste Rodin, Claude Monet, or any others. Discuss your favorites. For any artists or movements discussed in the book that you weren’t familiar with, was their artwork as you envisioned while reading? How, or how not?