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Роковой портрет

by
3.64  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,497 Ratings  ·  373 Reviews
1527 год.
Знаменитый художник Ганс Гольбейн приезжает в Лондон, чтобы написать портрет высокопоставленного придворного и видного ученого Томаса Мора в кругу семьи.
Шумный, веселый и богатый дом Мора привлекает самых известных философов, политиков и людей искусства.
Однако проницательного живописца не может ввести в заблуждение внешнее благополучие.
В семье Мора тайны есть
...more
Hardcover, 446 pages
Published 2009 by ACT (first published 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jaime
May 28, 2008 Jaime rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have a deep interest in Thomas More's family, so when I saw this novel about his foster daughter Margaret Giggs Clement, I had to check it out. Unfortunately, although the author has given Giggs an engaging character and she deftly plumbs the contradictions posed by More's humanist and anti-heretical personae, the book quickly becomes a farrago of melodrama and conspiracy theories.

At times, Bennett's historical inaccuracies and stylistic descent into the literary equivalent of Cheez Whiz were
...more
Hannah
Sep 09, 2010 Hannah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Tracy Chevalier
Rating clarification: 4.5 stars

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
Eileen
Feb 12, 2010 Eileen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ever wonder about the real story behind the Princes in the Tower? Portrait of an Unknown Woman presents one version that is plausible, even probable. Thomas More, a powerful and influential part of Henry VIII's court, his family, and Hans Holbein are brought to life again and shown with both shining perfection as well as dismal human failings. The mystery of the ultimate fates of the Princes in the Tower is deftly told, incorporating many historic figures, but primarily focuses on the perspectiv ...more
Mercedes Rochelle
Vanora Bennett has chosen an interesting time in More's life for this novel of many layers. From my "futuristic" perspective, I was waiting for More to be taken away, but this doesn't happen. So the story is encapsulated in that uncomfortable, trying time when everyone fears the worst but they don't know when, or even if, the king is going to strike. More even stages his own arrest in front of the family at dinner, just so they will be better prepared when the moment comes. The novel starts at w ...more
Stephanie Mason
Jan 08, 2010 Stephanie Mason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic historical fiction! This poignant story is a small glimpse into the life of Sir Thomas More and his family during one of the most turbulent times in Western history. There are so many elements to this book, my mind can't leave it alone. First there's the history, a time period I already find fascinating mainly because of how it changed the world/culture of religion. The amazing way in which Vanora Bennett presents the story allows the reader to see both sides of the controversial issue ...more
Zoella
Aug 31, 2014 Zoella rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read, I'm a huge fan of historical fiction (Anya Seton, Sarah Dunant, Tracy Chevalier, Katherine McMahon) and this novel did not disappoint. The story is effectively told from a variety of points of view (a young ward of More's called Meg. Holbein).
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
Redfox5
Jul 12, 2010 Redfox5 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tudors, fiction
I really loved this book and I totally agree that it was nice to be away from Tudor Court and more on the streets of London. I've not read an awful lot about the Princes of the Tower so I was able to go with that theory for the books sake. Just googled 'John Clement Plantagenet prince' and you get a lot of results linked to Holbeins painting so maybe there is something there. However I'm pretty sure when I went to the Tower of London the tour guide said that they did discover the skeletons of tw ...more
Barb

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
Laurie Bridges
Jun 06, 2007 Laurie Bridges rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Can I mark the book as "read" if I quit in the middle? Since I met the author at the American Libraries Association midwinter conference and got an autograph in the book I feel an obligation to like this book. I really kept plugging along even though I lost interest fairly early on...but, I'm giving myself permission to be done.

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
Kathryn
Sep 18, 2009 Kathryn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In her historical fiction debut, “Portrait of an Unknown Woman,” Vanora Bennett has brought a crucial slice of English history to life with compelling characterizations and a keen eye for period detail. Based on the rise and fall of humanist author and statesman Sir Thomas More during the English Reformation and the German artist, Hans Holbein, who created a painting of More’s family during that time, “Portrait” is a work rendered in stunning clarity and often breathtaking prose.

Although some re
...more
treehugger
Jul 15, 2008 treehugger rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of "the Other Boleyn Girl", those interested in King Henry VIII
Shelves: audiobooks, art
I picked up this book hoping for another "Girl with the Pearl Earring", but was sorely disappointed.

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
Kay
Sep 06, 2014 Kay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in the time of Henry VIII the title is slightly misleading. The book is about the family of Thomas More, the famous courtier who opposed the marriage of the king to Anne Boleyn. Hans Holbein arrives to paint a family portrait and falls in love with one of More's wards who has been brought up as his daughter. The book is about far more than a painting and a family, it includes a fanciful story of what may have happened to the Princes in the Tower. It is an interesting novel but should never b ...more
Alexis
Alright all now I am 90% convinced it is me. I have yet another 3 out of 5 book here. Although with this one it wasn't another case of a rushed ending at least.

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
Brian
Mar 09, 2014 Brian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bonnie
Jun 05, 2010 Bonnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Portrait of an Unknown Woman” is told from the viewpoint of Meg Giggs, adopted daughter of Sir Thomas More, sometimes in the first person, sometimes in the third. When the book opens the More family is awaiting the arrival of Hans Holbein, who is to paint a family portrait. Just before Holbein arrives John Clement, former tutor to the family, arrives. He has been studying medicine on the Continent and he and Meg hope to marry. Meg herself is something of a physician only her learning is more co ...more
Coralie
Oct 17, 2011 Coralie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is based on a picture by Hans Nolbein, a portait of Thomas More and his family. Thomas More was a philosopher in King Henry VIII's court, during the Reformation. He was a humanist, and ended up being a persecutor of Martin Luther's followers. The story is told from the perspective of Thomas More's adopted daughter, Meg, who appears in the fam;ily portrait. The author gets quite graphic when describing the persecution. It's funny that in history we are studying the Pilgrims and the Puri ...more
Caroline
"Portrait of an Unknown Woman" promises a story about one woman's relationship with the painter Hans Holbein. It's actually about Holbein, the lady (Meg, adopted daughter of Thomas More) and marital drama, with More's increasingly fanatical politics a a backdrop.

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
Annika Hipple
(*Review written in January 2011. Updated to add some missing words that had accidentally gotten deleted, which I only discovered years later.)

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
Heidi
I would really give this book 3.5 stars. I picked it up randomly at Barnes & Noble and had low expectations -- let's face it, most historical fictions are cheesy and lacking any depth.

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
The Book Maven
Ever since I read the second book in Cynthia Harrod-Eagles' Morland Dynasty series, I have been completely and totally in love with English historical fiction. I will happily read just about anything set in England prior to 1945. Yum! So far, this novel is filling the basic requirement of filling my appetite, without really tempting my palate. My main issue with this book is that it is set in the 1520s, and yet the author has no compunctions about putting modern words and terms into the mouths o ...more
Sophie
Jan 25, 2016 Sophie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Portrait of an Unknown Woman revolves around the family of Sir Thomas More, the famous humanist and Lord Chancellor to Henry VIII. In the late 1520s, tensions in the country are rising between the Catholics and the reformists. Bennet skillfully works together the politics and everyday life of the period, and the dilemma faced by Meg Giggs, the adopted daughter of the More family, who is torn between her former tutor John Clement, and the young painter Hans Holbein, who visits the family. Some of ...more
Renae
DNF. I wasn't necessarily disliking it, but life is too short to read books you're bored by or apathetic towards.
Morgan Dhu
Continuing to read books that deal with the fates of the princes in the tower, I turned to another book on my TBR shelf, Vanora Bennett's Portrait of an Unknown Woman - a complex novel based in part on the theories of amateur art historian Jack Leslau [1] about hidden meanings in a portrait of the family of Thomas More, painted by Hans Holbein (who was known for the use of multiple levels of symbolism in his mature work).

The theory here is that the two young princes were taken from the Tower, ra
...more
Florita
3.5 stars
A solid example of historical fiction somewhat marred by anachronisms that can be a bit off-putting. But seeing as these are only a few, once they're gotten past it's easy to get absorbed into the world of Thomas More's England; an era of immense change so much so it would be a challenge for any author to choose one element to create a narrative about especially because the changes intersect at many socio-cultural/political/religious etc levels. Unfortunately those few anachronisms ann
...more
Laura
Just arrived from USA.

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.
Joanne
Aug 24, 2014 Joanne rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Weak and contrived writing
Argum
Aug 25, 2014 Argum rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book takes a painting as a starting point and weaves a story around its creation, creator, and subjects. I love this kind of book. There is also the added fun that it is another theory on the Princes in the Tower, a rich mine for historical fiction. The author not only creates the world well it makes you almost believe in a rather wild theory about the Princes in the Tower. I think that in the historical notes mentioning the average life expectancy for even the rich was 50 and that if true ...more
L. W.
Feb 20, 2011 L. W. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book isn't for everyone; I love history, I love painters, and I love great thinkers. This book is historical fiction, based on Thomas More, the chancellor for Henry VIII, told through the eyes of an adopted daughter. It is long, not very exciting, but I enjoyed it despite its simplicity and lack of mental challenge.
Linda Allen
This is an historical novel and does take a few liberties with facts. All is not "Utopian" in Sir Thomas More's household from the point of view of Meg Giggs. Meg is a ward of Sir Thomas. She joined the household as a young child after the death of her father. She is now in her twenties and considers herself a spinster as the daughters of Sir Thomas are younger and married. Into the mix we add Master Hans Holbein the artist who has been commissioned to paint a family portrait. Both Meg and Holbe ...more
Linda Lipko
This was an interesting book, but it was a very slow read. It wasn't great...but it wasn't terrible either.
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
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Feb 23, 2015 08:23AM  
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246422
I became a journalist almost by accident. Having learned Russian and been hired after university by Reuters (to my own surprise and the slight dismay of traditionally-minded editors who weren’t sure a Guardian-reading blonde female would be tough enough for the job), I was then catapulted into the adrenaline-charged realm of conflict reporting. While on a trainee assignment in Paris, I fell in wit ...more
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“I felt, by turns, numb, hot with a monstrous embarrassment, and sick as though I'd eaten splinters of glass and was slowly shredding inside.” 1 likes
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