Laurie Lico Albanese

From the dawn of the twentieth century to the devastation of World War II, this exhilarating novel of love, war, art, and family gives voice to two extraordinary women and brings to life the true story behind the creation and near destruction of Gustav Klimt’s most remarkable paintings.


In the dazzling glitter of 1900 Vienna, Adele Bloch-Bauer—young, beautiful, brilliant, and Jewish—meets painter Gustav Klimt. Wealthy in everything but freedom, Adele embraces Klimt’s renegade genius as the two awaken to the erotic possibilities on the canvas and beyond. Though they enjoy a life where sex and art are just beginning to break through the façade of conventional society, the city is also exhibiting a disturbing increase in anti-Semitism, as political hatred foments in the shadows of Adele’s coffee house afternoons and cultural salons.


Nearly forty years later, Adele’s niece Maria Altmann is a newlywed when the Nazis invade Austria—and overnight, her beloved Vienna becomes a war zone. When her husband is arrested and her family is forced out of their home, Maria must summon the courage and resilience that is her aunt’s legacy if she is to survive and keep her family—and their history—alive.


Will Maria and her family escape the grip of Nazis’ grip? And what will become of the paintings that her aunt nearly sacrificed everything for?


Impeccably researched and a “must-read for fans of Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale and Paula McLain’s Circling the Sun” (Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author), Stolen Beauty intertwines the tales of two remarkable women across more than a hundred years. It juxtaposes passion and discovery against hatred and despair, and shines a light on our ability to love, to destroy, and above all, to endure.

Praise for Stolen Beauty



Cosmopolitan, February 2017 issue


“This sensual and mesmerizing novel brings to vivid life Gustav Klimt and his greatest muse and model, Adele Bloch-Bauer. For fans of Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale and Paula McLain's Circling the Sun, Stolen Beauty is a must read. I tore through the pages.”

—Christina Baker Kline, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Orphan Train


“Laurie Lico Albanese has given us a powerful and important tale of love and war, art and family. Filled with lush prose and vivid historical detail, Stolen Beauty is a work simultaneously intimate and sweeping in its scope. I was transported; I loved being swept up into the glorious, golden era of fin de siecle Vienna.”

—Allison Pataki, New York Times bestselling author of Sisi: Empress on Her Own


“Courage and beauty are the banners waving over the double heroines of this truth telling novel. Adele's suspenseful story and the terrifying narrative of her niece, Maria, capture both fin de siècle Vienna and the rise of Nazism. Like the paintings of Klimt, Stolen Beauty both glitters and darkens in its presentation of vibrant life and dreadful death.”

—Sena Jeter Naslund, author of Ahab's Wife; Abundance, a Novel of Marie Antoinette; and The Fountain of St. James Court, or, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman


“Best read with a tablet or computer handy to study the paintings, Albanese’s novel will appeal to readers interested in such themes as love, self discovery, and women’s empowerment and to fans of the historical, art based fiction of Susan Vreeland and Tracy Chevalier.”



Stolen Beauty is one of those rare, captivating novels that flies us through time, transports us across continents and oceans and challenges us to imagine the unimaginable, to reckon with the cruel forces of history and to marvel at the perseverance of the human spirit in the face of it.”

—David Anthony Durham, author of Pride of Carthage



Adele Bloch-Bauer I, by Gustav Klimt, 1907 (oil, gold, and silver on canvas).

Stolen Beauty is the most stunning depiction of the creation of a work of art—situating it in personal and political history—that I've read since Irving Stone's The Agony and the Ecstasy. Albanese's portrait of the brutality of the Nazi occupation of Austria and its seizure of art is unmatched.”

—Louise DeSalvo, author of The Art of Slow Writing


“Satisfying…Fans of romantic suspense with an art historical bent will appreciate the vigor of Albanese's reimagining of the family saga behind the masterpiece long regarded as Vienna's Mona Lisa.”

Kirkus Reviews