Portrait of an Unknown Woman
The year is 1527. The great portraitist Hans Holbein, who has fled the reformation in Europe, is making his first trip to England under commission to Sir Thomas More. In the course of six years, Holbein will become a close friend to the More family and paint two nearly identical family portraits. But closer examination of the paintings reveals that the second holds severa...more
At times, Bennett's historical inaccuracies and stylistic descent into the literary equivalent of Cheez Whiz were ...more
Portrait of an Unknown Woman is an intelligent, thoughtful and interesting historical novel which weaves a vivid, "what-if" fictional story around the beautiful and lush 2nd portrait of the Thomas More family as painted by Hans Holbein.
The story primarily focuses on Thomas More's foster daughter, Meg Griggs, but Bennett also gives the reader a realistic peak into what Thomas More and Hans Holbein might also have been like had we been privy to their inner-most thoug ...more
People have commented that the book is 'boring' - well, it's a pity they're not subtle or sensitive like the plot or the characterisation. It's a slow burner, but then not everything in life should be rushed!
The novel is a fictionalised account ...more
I enjoyed this perspective on those crazy power mongers who lived during the reign of Henry VIII. Vanora Bennett creates a fictional account of the life of Meg Griggs, Thomas More's adopted daughter. Thomas More being one of King Henry VIII's devoted servants and a staunch defender of Catholicism. Bennett offers us insights into the mind of those who are so devoted that they would risk their lives to defend their ideals and harshly punish those who criticize them.
Meg More is a skilled healer, a ...more
This book is based on paintings done of a family in England during the reign of King Henry the VIII. The story seems to starts like a harlequin romance climax (haha, get ...more
Although some re ...more
The main thing that struck me about the book was it's incredible length, and unbelievable non-action. There was no climax. There was only weak plot. It took FOREVER to listen to the 12 discs that made up this audiobook, and I was counting the minutes after the 4th disc. That's a lot of minutes.
Also, there was a lot of "twinkling" and "dimpling" mentioned in this novel...as in, he "twinkled" down ...more
I don't really know why they called it Portrait of an Unknown Woman since the art aspect of it played precious little role in the book over all. Maybe it is my fault for expecting something similar to Tracy Chevalier's books, one of the best known of those being Girl with a Pearl Earring. It seemed to me that this book was possibly trying ...more
Right off the bat, I'd like to express my relief at the fact that the saintly Thomas More myth perpetuated by "A Man for All Seasons" and even "The Tudors" seems to be wearing off. Hilary Mantel's Cromwell-sympathizing trilogy has played ...more
This could have been a great book. Thomas More was a key figure during the reign of Henry VIII and played such an important role in shaping posterity's negative view of Richard III that the story of his family should have been a compelling one. And "Portrait of an Unknown Woman" has plenty of admirable qualities (I'd like to have given it 2 1/2 stars). Th ...more
I agree that the book would appeal to those who are interested in a conspiracy theory, but I must admit, the author exceeded my expectations with the depth of her characters. The book focuses around the main character and 3 supporting characters, one of whom is an artist. I particularly appreciated the depth th ...more
Hans Holbein, the Younger, who had been recommended to More by his friend, Erasmus, arrived in England in 1526. Next year, he began a painting of Sir Thomas More and his family. A preparatory sketch for the original survives, but the painting itself was destroyed by fire in the eighteenth century. Fortunately, paintings which were created based on it by Rowland Lockey in the late sixteenth century, survive.
I would recommend reading it, but only if you have a lot of time because it does drag on and on and it is not a book that keeps you wanting to read it. I found that I skipped many pages.
The pages re. Hans Holbein and his paintings were interesting. I didn't know that More had an adopted daughter, so I appreciated learning this.
I think the author tried to wrap up too much in the final pages ...more
And in audio format, it is outstanding!!
I am really surprised by the lukewarm reviews. The only major issue I could find was the sometimes awkward transition from first to third person POV, but I was so enthralled with the story I didn't care. I was swept away, staying up all night to finish it.
I think this book is a work of subtle genius-- but not because of the secrets that are revealed. (Though the major revelation midway through the book is a creative and interesting ...more
I am generally interested in things that can be found out by piecing history together, bit by bit...in other words, the ...more
It took me ages to get into the book, I had to read passages over and over again because it wasn't holding my attention ...more