Two independent women separated by time but united over two compelling portraits and the secrets hidden behind the paint. Mira (Miramonde) is a nun from a Renaissance convent in the Pyrenees who believes she is an orphan who wants to escape her small community and explore the world. Five hundred years later, Zari, an art scholar, begins the journey to discover who Mira is by using the clues she left behind in her works of art that will take her on a journey that will change her life forever. These two tales are woven together in the first book of the Miramonde series, “The Girl From Oto” by Amy Maroney.
I have seen this novel on social media, and it was an intriguing premise. I always look for books that present a fresh new look into the 16th century.
Our story begins with the birth of twins to Marguerite, the baroness of Oto, a boy and a girl. Unfortunately, in the house of Oto, daughters are not allowed to live, so Marguerite gives her daughter named, Miramonde, or Mira for short, to Elena, a mountain woman. Elena decides to make the journey to Belarac Abbey under the supervision of the Abbess Beatrice of Belarac. They make a plan that Mira will never know the truth about who she is and will be raised in the abbey until she is old enough to choose her path, which is her mother’s desire.
Jumping 500 years into the future, we meet Zari Durrell, a young art scholar on the hunt for paintings by a female Renaissance artist, Cornelia van der Zee, the topic of her dissertation. Her topic is well known, but while examining a portrait she believes was painted by Cornelia van der Zee, she discovers that the painting was painted by another artist named Mira. Zari’s journey to discover who Mira is will take her all over Europe as she follows the clues to the truth.
There is just something about a good history mystery mixed with a dual-timeline story that is so much fun to read. Maroney has done extensive research, not just for Mira’s story in the world of the Pyrenees, the wool trade, and life in a convent, but Zari’s adventures in academia and her journey along the Camino de Santiago.
Maroney created a colorful cast of characters, from the Renaissance to the modern day, that will grip the readers with the mysteries they must uncover. I cannot wait to see what other adventures Mira and Zari will go on. If you want a delightfully engaging and thrilling dual-timeline novel about 16th-century Spain, I highly recommend reading “The Girl From Oto” by Amy Maroney.