Ilaria Bernardini

Ilaria Bernardini is a prolific, bestselling Italian screenwriter and author of 8 novels, whose latest, Faremo Foresta (‘We Will Grow a Forest’) was longlisted for Italy’s prestigious Strega Prize. She is a Vogue columnist and regular contributor for Rolling Stone and GQ magazines. She co-wrote the late renowned director Bernardo Bertolucci’s last film, The Echo Chamber. Based in Milan, she splits her time between there and London.

About ‘The Portrait’:

Ambiguous, electrifying story of a lover, a wife – and the man they have in common.When well-known businessman Martin Acla’s stroke makes the news headlines, celebrated author Valeria Costas’s world impldes; as Martin’s secret lover for the past thirty years the idea of losing him is beyond comprehension. Desperate to find a way to be alongside him during his final days, Valeria commissions Martin’s artist wife to paint her portrait and so inserts herself into his family home – and life.

In the grand mansion house in west London where the man they share lies comatose, Valeria and Isla remain poised on the brink – and transfixed by each other. Does Isla’s know of her sitter’s long involvement with her husband? Does Martin know she’s there in his house? And what about the fact that Valeria’s mother is simultaneously losing her own battle with life hundreds of miles away in Rhodes? As the portrait starts to take shape, we watch these singular women struggle while the love of their lives departs – taking with him much of what has defined each of them.

In its nuanced description of two very different people and the secrets they keep we’re tossed high and low in an unforgettable tale reminiscent of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Quartet and Zoe Heller’s Notes on a Scandal. Filled with deception and mystery, The Portrait is a breathless dance that intrigues until the very end.

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