Under the Egg
by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
After reading The Gallery, and adoring it, I had to read Fitzgerald’s other book, Under the Egg. I just finished it and it did not disappoint. I love her writing style and I cannot get over how clever and interesting her plots are. Brilliant. I’m really hoping Fitzgerald keeps writing!
Theodora Tenpenny lives with her mom and grandfather, Jack, in New York City. One day her grandfather dies leaving her a cryptic message that she will find a treasure ‘under the egg.’ She remembers the painting in her house of an egg and decides to start there. She takes down the painting and accidentally spills rubbing alcohol on it, which causes a layer of paint to come off, revealing another painting underneath. This one is of a Madonna and Child. Theodora wipes the entire top painting off and is left puzzled as to why her grandfather covered it up to begin with and wondering if it might actually be a famous painting by Raphael. Spoilers: Theodora makes a friend, Bodhi, who helps her follow clues and figure out the story of the painting. They reach out to curators, libraries, and ask their friends for insight. In the end, they discover that Jack had enlisted in the army when he was younger and had been taken by the Nazis as a POW. While he was being worked to death (literally), he made a few friends. One of whom had a daughter whom he had protected by bribery (he had a priceless painting by Raphael of the Madonna and Child that was actually a portrait of Raphael’s secret wife and child). Jack was able to escape and worked for non other than the Monument’s Men (a group of men in charge of saving priceless art and monuments during WWII), where he found his friend’s painting. By this time his friend had died and Jack made it his life’s work to find the daughter and return the painting to her. Theodora realizes that she must find this daughter and finish Jack’s work. She inadvertently stumbles across the daughter, who ends up being their neighbor, and returns the painting. It is bittersweet, but all ends well and quite happily. All this time Theodora has been struggling to make ends meet (her mother is essentially a child when it comes to taking care of things). After returning the painting, Theodora discovers an inheritance left to her by Jack and is able to stop worrying about her next meal, etc. He truly left her a treasure and a legacy.
Summing it up: I highly recommend this book. It was clever, sweet, and such a fun read!
All the best, Abbey