Thursday, December 16, 2010

Review: The Creation of Eve

A fictionalized account of the life of Renaissance painter Sofinisba Anguissola, this book chronicles the time Anguissola spent as a lady-in-waiting to Elisabeth de Valois, queen of Spain. At the Spanish court Sofi encounters an entirely different world. Learning to navigate court culture while dreaming about the relationship she left behind in Rome envelop Sofi's time. She becomes one of the queen's favorites, a position that offers little but complexity and danger. Cullen's historical presentation is believable, though I found the beginning of the book to be somewhat slow-going. In part, this is because the first portion of the book, set in Italy, has little bearing on the major thrust of the plot. I found the court setting of the book somewhat difficult to engage. I've read little of the voluminous historical fiction on the kings and queens of Europe, so I suspect that for others more deeply read in the genre, this will not be an issue. This is more my issue than Cullen's, I simply don't find the court setting inherently interesting. My preferences aside, I did get deeper into the story. Cullen's writing is good, though I did find the ending, and the consequences of one final dramatic action, to be wholly unbelievable.

Lynn Cullen, The Creation of Eve (Putnam, 2010) ISBN: 0399156100

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