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The Prisoner of Paradise – or what happens when you obsess over a painting

I must admit being quite intrigued when I read the blurb to Mr Samborn’s book, The Prisoner of Paradise. I am rather fond of stories that take their starting point in works of art, and in this case it is Tintoretto’s gigantic masterpiece, Paradise, in Venice that has Mr Samborn’s protagonist utterly enthralled. Not that the poor man knows why, but there you are: sometimes, art speaks to you in the literal sense. Tintoretto’s Paradise is considered the largest canvas painting in the world, and Mr Samborn goes on to offer quite an intriguing reason behind its size.

Tintoretto, Il Paradiso.

As to Tintoretto, he is a 16th century painter born Jacobo Robusti to a Venetian dyer (hence Tintoretto, a nickname based on the Italian for dyeing, tintare). The man obviously enjoyed working on a grand scale, and he had a reputation for being a very fast painter–too fast, some of his contemporary competitors grumbled, pointing out that speed could affect quality. I imagine being quick with his brushes was a must when painting something the size of Paradise, which is an incredible 22.6 metres by 9.1 metres. That’s about the size of half an olympic swimming pool…

Well, enough about Tintoretto – let’s move on to today’s protagonist, namely Mr Samborn’s novel, The Prisoner of Paradise, presently on tour with The Coffee Pot Book Club.


The world’s largest oil painting. A 400-year-old murder. A disembodied whisper: “Amore mio.” My love.

Nick and Julia O’Connor’s dream trip to Venice collapses when a haunting voice reaches out to Nick from Tintoretto’s Paradise, a monumental depiction of Heaven. Convinced his delusions are the result of a concussion, Julia insists her husband see a doctor, though Nick is adamant the voice was real.

Blacking out in the museum, Nick flashes back to a life as a 16th century Venetian peasant swordsman. He recalls precisely who the voice belongs to: Isabella Scalfini, a married aristocrat he was tasked to seduce but with whom he instead found true love. A love stolen from them hundreds of years prior.

She implores Nick to liberate her from a powerful order of religious vigilantes who judge and sentence souls to the canvas for eternity. Releasing Isabella also means unleashing thousands of other imprisoned souls, all of which the order claims are evil.

As infatuation with a possible hallucination clouds his commitment to a present-day wife, Nick’s past self takes over. Wracked with guilt, he can no longer allow Isabella to remain tormented, despite the consequences. He must right an age-old wrong – destroy the painting and free his soul mate. But the order will eradicate anyone who threatens their ethereal prison and their control over Venice.

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Author Bio: In addition to being a novelist, Rob Samborn is a screenwriter, entrepreneur and avid traveler. He’s been to forty countries, lived in five of them and studied nine languages. As a restless spirit who can’t remember the last time he was bored, Rob is on a quest to explore the intricacies of our world and try his hand at a multitude of crafts; he’s also an accomplished artist and musician, as well as a budding furniture maker. A native New Yorker who lived in Los Angeles for twenty years, he now makes his home in Denver with his wife, daughter and dog.

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5 thoughts on “The Prisoner of Paradise – or what happens when you obsess over a painting”

  1. Thanks for hosting, Anna! I’m glad we share a fondness for literature revolving around art (not to mention timeslips). It sounds like you’re a fellow admirer of Tintoretto, as well!

    1. It was my pleasure.
      It’s hard not to be awed by an artist who lanned and produced such a gigantic masterpiece. But if I have to choose, I am more of a Titian fan.

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