The Blue by Nancy Bilyeau

In the 1750s London, Genevieve Planché - a young Huguenot (descendant of French Protestants who had been forced into exile) - dreams of becoming a painter. But hers is not an era conducive to such female ambition. The most Genevieve can hope for is a job as a decorator at a porcelain factory in Derby,... Continue Reading →

Shattered Drum by C. P. Lesley

So many historical novels set in the 16th century focus on Tudor England (and sometimes also France, with a smattering of Italy) that I get very excited whenever a story is set in other parts of Europe. C.P. Lesley is on one of the few historical fiction authors that I know of whose work brings... Continue Reading →

Silent Water, The Jagiellon Dynasty #1

Prologue Bari, Kingdom of Naples March 1560 The nightmares did not start until my old age, when sleep becomes elusive for some, while for others it is burdened with images from their past they would rather not remember. The stone cellar, dank and malodorous; the glint of a blade; the killer’s cold eyes; the victim’s... Continue Reading →

The Huntress by Kate Quinn

Given the subject matter of Kate Quinn's latest novel The Huntress, it is difficult to use terms like "enjoyment" and "fun" to describe the reading experience. So I will limit myself to saying that it is among the best historical fiction I have read in a long, long time. The novel opens with a scene at... Continue Reading →

Botticelli’s Muse by Dorah Blume

Artist Sandro Botticelli's painting Primavera is one of the most celebrated artworks of the Italian Renaissance. Breaking with many conventions of the past, it askewed religious imagery in favor of a secular theme of spring awakening. As such it garnered a great deal of criticism from Church authorities when it was painted in the late... Continue Reading →

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon

When I read a well-executed historical novel, it typically sends me on a mini research bender where I try to read up on the era or the event as much as I can. I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon is one of those novels. The historical event it's woven around is the Russian Revolution - actually, two... Continue Reading →

Connecting with Berthe Morisot

Guest post by Paula Butterfield  It was the middle of another fall quarter, and I was again teaching my course on Women in the Arts. I’d already introduced my students to the floral still lifes of 16th c. Dutch artist Rachel Ruysch, and Elizabeth Vigee-Lebrun’s portraits of the 18th c. French court. Each student had... Continue Reading →

La Luministe by Paula Butterfield

If she were alive today, painter Berthe Morisot would be celebrated and admired, but in the 19th century Paris, she was up against formidable obstacles. Women were not allowed to pursue paying occupations, the prestigious Ecole des Beaux Arts did not accept female students, the society treated "lady painters" as odd (if they were rich)... Continue Reading →

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