An internationally renowned writer, Valeria Costas has dedicated her life to her work and to her secret lover, Martìn Acla, a prominent businessman. When his sudden stroke makes headlines, her world implodes; the idea of losing him is terrifying. Desperate to find a way to be present during her lover’s final days, Valeria commissions his artist wife, Isla, to paint her portrait–insinuating herself into Martìn’s family home and life.
In the grand, chaotic London mansion where the man they share–husband, father, lover–lies in a coma, Valeria and Isla remain poised on the brink, transfixed by one another. Day after day, the two women talk to each other during the sittings, revealing truths, fragilities and strengths. But does Isla know of the writer’s long involvement with Martìn? Does Valeria grasp the secrets that Isla harbors? Amidst their own private turmoil, the stories of their lives are exchanged, and as the portrait takes shape, we watch these complex and extraordinary women struggle while the love of their lives departs, in an unforgettable, breathless tale of deception and mystery that captivates until the very end.
About the author:
Ilaria Bernardini is a prolific talent in Italy, where she has published eight novels, including Faremo Foresta (“We Will Grow a Forest”) which was longlisted for Italy’s presitigious Strega Prize. The Portrait too has been longlisted for the Strega Prize: it was nominated by Academy Award winning director Paolo Sorrentino ( “The great beauty”) She is a Vogue Italia columnist and regular contributor for Rolling Stone . Ilaria also co-wrote the late renowned director Bernardo Bertolucci’s last film, The Echo Chamber. She splits her time between London and Milan.