The Painter’s Gift, by Penelope Holt
A new Gospel will emerge early in the third millennium. Christ’s message will remain unchanged, but the medium will be different. Three paintings will combine to soften and heal the heart of modern man. Claire Lucas is a young widow and an oil painter of middling ability. Plagued for weeks by a sad dream of Benares, India, she funnels the pivotal image into a work of transcendent majesty. The painting actually radiates heat, requiring a dedicated security guard at the Vetch gallery in Soho, as people yearn to touch it. Viewers are rapt and go away possessed of an overwhelming calm. The painter sells her painting for a life-altering million-five, but suffers a paroxysm of regret and tries to cancel the transaction. She meets and becomes fast allies with the forcefully capable Father Karl Brandt, a priest on the trail of the three foretold masterpieces mentioned in The Angel Scroll, and also Richard Markson, an introverted widower. Someone else wants the paintings enough to kill for them, enough to invade homes in both darkness and daylight. Claire and her champions have quite a bit of ground to make up. The story carries from New York to Jerusalem, Glastonbury Tor to Siena in Italy, author Penelope Holt conveys a flair for descriptive detail, shifting backdrops, and spiritual perspectives.