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The Sixteen Pleasures

Author: Hellenga, Robert Set In . . .
 Europe, Italy, Florence
Genre: Fiction
Time Frame: 1960s
Published: 1995
A centuries-old book is found in Florence in this novel with “a sympathetic heroine, a suspenseful plot . . . and illuminating meditations on life, art, and love” (Chicago Tribune).
Margot Harrington, an American volunteer in Florence, is an expert at book conservancy. While struggling to save a waterlogged convent library after the devastating Arno flood of 1966, she comes across a fabulous volume of sixteen erotic drawings by Giulio Romano, accompanying sixteen steamy sonnets by Pietro Aretino. When it was first published over four centuries ago, the Vatican ordered all copies destroyed. This single—now unique—volume has survived.
The abbess needs to save the order’s finances—so she prevails upon Margot to find a buyer for the magnificently illustrated erotica. But of course, she must accomplish this discreetly—meaning without the bishop’s knowledge.
But this is not Margot’s only clandestine project. The other is an Italian man who is determined to save endangered frescoes. She is twenty-nine and available. He is older and married. But they share a sense of mission—and soon, a bed—in this daring story of spiritual longing and earthly desire.
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