There are different categories of "amazing books" in my head.
There are series that I love, like Twilight, Outlander, The Hunger Games, and Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books. There are also books that I enjoy, but don't see myself reading more than once in my lifetime. Then there are books which hold such undeniable beauty and mysterious magical abilities, I feel as if my hands are glued to the book's pages, and won't separate themselves until I am finished. These books touch my soul so, that I fear their end before I'm even halfway through. These are novels that stay with me forever. Novels I would reread in a heartbeat, and read and reread until my old, arthritic hands cannot hold their binding anymore.
The Ruby Ring is one of these books.
The only books I remember being as captivating (at least for me) as Diane Haeger's story of Raphael and his very own Madonna, are Susanna Kearsley's time-slip novels. I had the same reaction to The Ruby Ring as I did with Ms Kearsley's The Rose Garden. Every time I would put down the book, my mind would still be in my characters' time. With each time I would pick up the book, I would almost be in tears in fear of the story actually (God forbid) ending.
With Diane Haeger's The Ruby Ring, I actually slowed my reading pace, JUST so I could be with Raphael and Margherita that much longer. Which I never ever do. Ever.
To sum up the plot, I will say that this book takes place in 16th century Rome, and follows the life of the painter, Raphael Sanzio, as he searches for the perfect woman to be the model for his masterful painting of Madonna. Instead he finds Margherita, a baker's daughter, who not only is the perfect model for his Madonna, but is also the love Raphael has been searching for his entire life.
Promises to the Vatican, and financial status (among many other things) try to keep these two apart, but when a flame of passion and romance is lit, especially between the painter Raphael and his love, Margherita, it's impossible to extinguish it.
This book is just so beautiful. I wish I could carry it with me everywhere, just to read and reread in my spare time.
I wish now that I could wipe its story from my memory, just to be able to read it again for the first time.