by Lynn Cullen
G.P. Putnam's Sons (Penguin)
Description: It's 1559. A young woman painter is given the honor of traveling to Michelangelo's Roman workshop to learn from the Maestro himself. Only men are allowed to draw the naked figure, so she can merely observe from afar the lush works of art that Michelangelo sculpts and paints from life. Sheltered and yet gifted with extraordinary talent, she yearns to capture all that life and beauty in her own art. But after a scandal involving one of Michelangelo's students, she flees Rome and fears she has doomed herself and her family.
The Creation of Eve is a riveting novel based on the true but little-known story of Sofonisba Anguissola, the first renowned female artist of the Renaissance. After Sofi's flight from Rome, her family eagerly accepts an invitation from fearsome King Felipe II of Spain for her to become lady-in-waiting and painting instructor to his young bride. The Spanish court is a nest of intrigue and gossip, where a whiff of impropriety can bring ruin. Hopelessly bound by the rules and restrictions of her position, Sofi yearns only to paint. And yet the young Queen needs Sofi's help in other matters-inexperienced as she is, the Queen not only fails to catch the King's eye, but she fails to give him an heir, both of which are crimes that could result in her banishment. Sofi guides her in how best to win the heart of the King, but the Queen is too young, and too romantic, to be satisfied. Soon, Sofi becomes embroiled in a love triangle involving the Queen, the King, and the King's illegitimate half brother, Don Juan. And if the crime of displeasing the King is banishment, the crime of cuckolding him must surely be death.
Combining art, drama, and history from the Golden Age of Spain, The Creation of Eve is an expansive, original, and addictively entertaining novel that asks the question: Can you ever truly know another person's heart?
- Historically accurate and very rich in detail
- Intriguing characters
- Very well researched and the author obviously has a passion for these historical characters and their time period
- Interesting notes at the beginning of each chapter
- wonderful understanding and description of a woman's place in this era of history
- Lots of court intrigue
- The Author's note at the end of the book
Not So Good Stuff
- Storyline dragged and was a little dry at times
- Not very passionate and fiery as you are lead to believe by the books description
- Story focuses far too much on the royals and not enough time actually on Sofonisba
- Some of the theatrics of the queen and the kings brother are repetitive and irritating
- Lots of fascinating little historical facts about the late 1500's in Spain and France
- It really sucked to be a women during this period of time!
- Some interesting facts about Michelangelo
- about syphilis
Item: In Madrid, a woman whose only crime was to look especially beautiful dressed in her gown for Mass, was gouged in the cheeks by her husband, his weapon being his fingernails. Her husband was found not guilty of any wrongdoing. She bears the scars on her face to this day.
Not long after our return to the palace, the King, finding me painting on the Queen’s portrait, stopped to study my work. Alone and filled with remorse and shame that his presence now evokes in me, I painted in silence, the hushed dab of my bush against canvas mingling with the roar of the river outside. I heard his pained swallow behind me. “You have captured her.
Who Should Read
- Art/History Lovers
- Lovers of richly detailed historical fiction
Won from Early Reviewers Group on Library Thing in exchange for an honest review