The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola - the most famous woman you've never heard of by Melissa Muldoon

Review Waking Isabella HERE!
Review Eternally Atemesia - HERE!

Synopsis - 

In a world where women painters had little to no acknowledgment, she was singled out by Michelangelo and Vasari who recognized and praised her talent. Gaining the Milanese elite’s acclaim, she went on to become court painter to Spanish King Philip II and taught his queen to paint. One can’t live such an extraordinary life without having stories to tell, and tell them Sofonisba does to Sir Anthony Van Dyke, who comes to visit her toward the end of her life. During their meeting, she agrees to reveal her secrets but first challenges the younger painter to find the one lie hidden in her tale. 

In a saga filled with intrigue, jealousy, buried treasure, unrequited love, espionage, and murder, Sofonisba’s story is played out against the backdrop of Italy, Spain, and Sicily. Throughout her life, she encounters talented artists, authoritative dukes, mad princes, religious kings, spying queens, vivacious viscounts, and dashing sea captains—even a Barbary pirate. But of all the people who fell in love with Sofonisba, only one captured her heart. The painter may have many secrets but the truth of her life is crystal clear from the beginning. Always a strong, passionate woman with a dream, she was an intelligent artist who knew her self-worth and in the end, as Michelangelo had done for her, Sofonisba passed her brush to a new generation.

Review - 

If you're a lover of all things Italian, then the books by author Melissa Muldoon will scratch that itch. I reviewed one of her books - Waking Isabella - a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. This time around, I was intrigued by her decision to build a story around a historical figure - Sofonisba Anguissola. This was a real woman who actually did establish a career as a painter at a time when this was unusual to say the least. I had never heard of her before so loved getting a chance to get to know her better. 

The story told is one of love, court intrigue, danger, jealousy, feminism, expectations and more. Some of the book was based on actual historical records and some was invented, inspired by her life.  It was hard to tell which was real and which was fantasy when reading as it all blended together so well. The story started slow for me, and then about half way through I found it hard to put down. The finish was satisfying - just what I wanted to hear.

There was a closing note from the author where she shared which parts were fact and which were fiction.  After taking a walk down what might have been real, I loved learning what was supported by history and what was the author's creativity. The fact I wasn't sure is a good sign she wrote well.  

Buy the Book: Amazon ~ B&N ~ Bookshop  ~ Autographed from Author ~ Add to Goodreads

Meet the Author -

Read my Feb. 2018 interview on her author's journey HERE!
Check out my new 2021 interview update HERE!

Melissa Muldoon is the author of four novels set in Italy: Dreaming Sophia, Waking Isabella, Eternally Artemisia, and The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola. All four books tell the stories of women and their journeys of self-discovery to find love, uncover hidden truths, and follow their destinies to shape a better future for themselves. Melissa is also the author of the Studentessa Matta website, where she promotes the study of Italian language and culture through her dual-language blog written in Italian and English ( Studentessa Matta means the “crazy linguist” and has grown to include a podcast, Tutti Matti per l’Italiano and the Studentessa Matta, YouTube channel, Facebook page and Instagram feed. Melissa also created Matta Italian Language Immersion Programs, which she co-leads with Italian schools in Italy to learn Italian in Italy. Through her website, she also offers the opportunities to live and study in Italy through Homestay programs. Melissa has a B.A. in fine arts, art history, and European history from Knox College, a liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, as well as a master’s degree in art history from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She has also studied painting and art history in Florence. She is an artist, designer, and illustrated the cover art for all four of her books. Melissa is the managing director of Matta Press

Connect with the author: Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~Instagram ~ Pinterest ~ Goodreads