Making decisions is not one of Francesca Milliardo's strengths so when something mysterious starts unfolding in her father's mansion in Milan - it's no surprise that she's unsure what to do. Francesca dreams of becoming a star in the contemporary art world and she has all the right connections, though what should be a summer of fun is turning out to be anything but.
A fast-paced mystery with a hint of supernatural and a dash of romance - Girl in a Golden Cage introduces a new character into the Gold Gift Series
My career is a cocktail of art and fiction. No – I don’t swan about London in high-heels with a Manhattan in my hand looking at Old Master paintings (though that sounds fun...) but alongside my writing, I run a sculptural restoration business specialising in public sculpture. These may seem dichotomous ways of earning a living, but they blend surprisingly well to make for a colourful life.
My work on statuary is primarily outdoors and highly practical.
I work on War Memorials, large-scale monuments like Nelson’s Column and contemporary sculpture. In the UK, we don’t realise how lucky we are to have art on our streets that people pay significant sums to see in art galleries: Henry Moore, Rodin, Hepworth and these masterpieces have a pretty hard life what with the harsh urban environment, vandalism and pigeons.
Occasionally, I come across a sculpture that makes my heart thrum and in the case of my most recent book, Girl In A Golden Cage, a book was born out of the encounter. This novel, a mystery set in Milan, is about Francesca Milliardo who is the daughter of a wealthy businessman. Francesca is set on becoming a contemporary artist, but strange events are playing out in her own home and getting in the way.
The statue that inspired the story is by Anthony Gormley, artist of the iconic Angel of the North sculpture in the UK. His sculpture, Feeling Material XIV is much smaller than its titanic brother, but no less impactful. In the novel, I made it part of her father’s art collection and it represents the supernatural theme that threads its way through the story.
My last novel, A Rarer Gift Than Gold, was a conspiracy theory set in the art and craft world. Girl In A Golden Cage sees some characters from the first story feature, but it is a standalone novel with a new main character and her own challenges. I think this is where I can offer my readers something unique. My in-depth knowledge of the art world means that I can open up my specialism to them and as my field is so unusual, it’s unlikely they will have come across it before in fiction.
Milan was an obvious choice as a setting for the new book. Not only is it Italy’s business capital which is relevant to the plot, art lovers get the extra bonus of scenes carried out in breathtaking locations such as beneath incredible architecture like The Duomo and cutting edge contemporary art venues like Hangar Bicocca. Art, mystery, Milan, paranormal, romance - it’s a potent blend for fans of Dan Brown, Kate Mosse and Scott Mariani.
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About the Author