Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Fifteen: The Creation of Eve - Lynn Cullen

Sofonisba Anguissola was the first renowned female artist of the Renaissance. She studied with the great Michelangelo in Rome and taught Queen Elisabeth of Valois how to paint and draw in Spain.

The Creation of Eve follows her life (with some embellishment) within the royal court of Spain. She sees first hand the politics that go on within the royal family and how inexperienced Queen Elisabeth is at first in wooing the heart of her husband King Felipe. She struggles with her own "scandal" - giving up of her virginity to a fellow artist - and how to deal with being "technically" married but no one knowing it. She also watches Queen Elisabeth fall in love with the King's half-brother Don Juan and how the King deals with trying to separate them. Queen Elisabeth is able to get pregnant eventually - but loses the first baby and then gives birth to three baby girls.
The book ends just as Sofonisba starts to paint more frequently and capture the life of the Spanish court.

As a reader it was suprising that Lynn only provided the rest of Sofonisba's life in the historical note at the end of the book. I felt at times the book was just dragging on and repeating the same plot over and over again. The book does cover 10 years of her life (1559 - 1568) and includes small quips about advice that Sofonisba might have encountered during her adventures in court. I did enjoy reading about a different time period - but still seeing the connections to the Tutor family I have read so much about. I started this book last weekend during the snow storm and finished this morning during another snow storm - quite appropriate.

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