A Place in the World: Book 3, The Miramonde Series
In this third in the Miramonde series, set in 1505, grieving the loss of a daughter, Miramonde de Oto and her husband Arnaud move to Bayonne, France, where Arnaud hopes to establish an export business and Mira hopes to return to painting after the birth of their son. The 16th-century story also includes the adventures of Mira’s aunt Elena and Mira’s painting mentor, Sebastian de Scolna, along with wealthy wool merchant Amadina Sacazar, pursuing the married pair for nefarious purposes. In 2016, independent scholar Zari Durrell combs Europe examining 16th-century portraiture and building a relationship with lover Wil. While Mira waits anxiously for Arnaud, who sets out to procure oak from the village of Ronzal, Zari, in intertwined chapters, visits galleries, villages, and homes trying to find traces of Mira’s work.
Maroney’s prose is clean and engaging, full of expressive details of background, weather, setting, and dress that anchor the characters in a solid sense of place and make up for the quiet plot. There is some small suspense, but Zari’s discoveries in the present day outline the main events of Mira’s life in advance, and the alternating chapters don’t seem deeply intertwined. The interest of the book lies in its depiction of varied settings, from medieval Aragonese castles, rustic Basque country, and 16th-century Gascony to the modern-day outlines of Belgium and London, and in its portrayal of the European art world in the Renaissance and now.
As many relationships in this book rely on previous events—tensions between Mira and her twin, for example; Zari’s accomplices and enemies in the art history world; and the murky motives driving Amadina’s vengeful pursuit—the reader is advised to read the series in order to appreciate fully the conclusion of both Zari and Mira’s quests.