The Sidewalk Artist
In this debut novel, Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk weave a love story between Tulia Rose, a young, 21st century American writer and the sidewalk artist she meets in Paris. To her, his street painting of Raffaello Sanzio’s angels seem inspired, as fresh as the day the Renaissance master painted them five hundred years before. Smarting from the poor reception given her first novel, estranged from her boyfriend and lonely, Tulia Rose is deeply drawn to the sidewalk artist, who is as handsome and kind as he is mysterious and full of magic tricks. Playfully, he declines to tell her his name, and so she calls him Raphael.
Inspired by him (and for a time suspicious of his motives), she begins writing a new novel, a tragic love story set in 16th-century Rome with the Italian master as its hero, while Raffaello Sanzio’s own fictional story plays out in alternating sections. Although this story-within-a-story approach might have been confusing in lesser hands, Buonaguro and Kirk manage it beautifully. So does Tulia Rose, with the successful publication of her Raffaello novel, For My Beloved. All in all, an impressive debut.