Sofia is trained in secret as a painter in her father’s workshop during a time when women did not paint openly. She loves her work, but her restless spirit leads her to betray her extraordinary gifts to marry a man who comes to despise her for not producing a son.
After Sofia’s father is crushed by his own fresco during an attack motivated by a vendetta, Sofia realizes she must escape her loveless marriage. She flees to Siena, where, disguised as a boy, she paints again. When her work attracts the notice of a nobleman who discovers the woman under the dirty smock, Sofia is faced with a choice that nearly destroys her.
This story richly displays 14th century Italy and the world of painters of that time. I must admit though, I struggled to find my balance in this story. What does that mean? I sympathized with Sofia and her loss, the fact that she had to paint in secret, the relationship with her husband but towards the middle of the book, my feelings towards her to begin to change and I felt the story wasn’t holding my attention at first despite Sofia’s situation and the imagery the author sets. This is a wonderful period to write about, I adore the premise and feel this story has all the themes that readers want to read about. The story did pick up for me and I enjoyed the character development and the tone. I could really feel what Sofia was going through and I felt the author did a marvelous job with the secondary characters. I have rated this book three and a half stars.
Stephanie M. Hopkins