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The Passion of Artemisia    by Susan Vreeland order for
Passion of Artemisia
by Susan Vreeland
Order:  USA  Can
Penguin, 2002 (2002)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

The Passion of Artemisia is a wonderfully fictionalized tale of Artemisia Gentileschi, a real life post-Renaissance painter who achieved fame in her own lifetime - a difficult task for any woman at that time in history.

After Artemisia is raped by her painting teacher, her father forces a court case to achieve his own ends, neglecting his daughter's concerns. Artemisia realizes she must look after her own interests and strikes out on her own. She agrees to an arranged marriage and gives birth to a girl child. The reader then follows her struggle to further her reputation in the world of art, to obtain patrons to support her and her daughter and to enjoy the strides she takes among the greatest artists of that period.

Susan Vreeland has herself produced a work of art. And a look at life in the time of Gallileo can't help but be irresistible. Vreeland presents a world where one can almost see and feel the luxurious fabrics used as backdrops for Artemisia's paintings. The colors described leap from the pages. It is not hard to imagine the smells and sounds of the back streets of Rome and Florence and London with Vreeland's down-to-earth descriptions. Food depictions fascinated me as well.

I can't help but wonder what will be the topic for Vreeland's next book. I really don't care. I will read it simply for the promise of a well-crafted story that will hold my attention from first page 'til the last - as did The Passion of Artemisia and the author's first novel, Girl in Hyacinth Blue.

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