Ancient & Medieval Historical Fiction discussion

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message 1: by Kimber (new)

Kimber (kimberlibri) | 785 comments Shannon and I started this discussion on another thread and couldn't find a discussion topic that directly related to Art or Artists. We were talking about the book The Painted Kiss The Painted Kiss by Elizabeth Hickey about the life of Gustav Klimt and thought why not start a place where books specific to Art and Artists (visual artists, painters, composers, musicians, etc.) could be suggested and discussed. I've only read a few but am always interested in more.
Off the top of my head:
Sacré Bleu A Comedy d'Art by Christopher Moore Vivaldi's Virgins by Barbara Quick Tempesta's Dream by Vincent B. "Chip" LoCoco The Botticelli Secret by Marina Fiorato The Last Van Gogh by Alyson Richman


message 2: by Allie (new)

Allie | 1678 comments Hmm some of those sound promising!

I think I've only read two: Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (which I liked) and Leonardo's Swans by Karen Essex (which was just ok)


message 3: by Kimber (new)

Kimber (kimberlibri) | 785 comments I'd forgotten about Leonardo's Swans. I've read that as well. I agree with your 'just ok' as I remember it was more about the D'Este sisters than Leonardo himself. I still need to read Girl With a Pearl Earring as I've heard great things about it.


message 4: by Jane (new)

Jane | 3457 comments Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper by Harriet Scott Chessman Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper: Mary Cassatt.
Girl with a Peal Earring didn't set my world on fire.


message 5: by Allie (new)

Allie | 1678 comments Kimber wrote: "I'd forgotten about Leonardo's Swans. I've read that as well. I agree with your 'just ok' as I remember it was more about the D'Este sisters than Leonardo himself. I still need to read..."

Ha. As soon as I posted it I was like "Hmmm, I dont remember him being in it..."

You should give GWAPE a try, you'd probably like it :)


message 6: by Shannon Elizabeth (last edited Aug 14, 2015 09:29PM) (new)

Shannon Elizabeth Heffner (thepinkroseoftexas) | 571 comments Omg! You did a great job setting this up, Kimber! It was exactly what was needed. I haven't read either Leonardo's Swans or Vivaldi's Virgins, although on the same plane as the latter, I did read The Four Seasons A Novel of Vivaldi's Venice by Laurel Corona The Four Seasons: A Novel of Vivaldi's Venice by Laurel Corona, which was pretty good, but I've heard Vivaldi's Virgins is better. One book I'd recommend was Marrying Mozart by Stephanie Cowell Marrying Mozart by Stephanie Cowell. I really enjoyed that book (as long as you go into it expecting it to be about Mozart's wife, Constanza, and not entirely about Mozart himself. It's much more enjoyable with that in mind). I think a similar mindset was helpful when I read Girl With A Pearl Earring. A friend told me to keep in mind it was about the maid/model, Griet, instead of Vermeer who takes a backseat to the story. But in my opinion, both Marrying Mozart and GWAPE are worth a read.


message 7: by Kimber (new)

Kimber (kimberlibri) | 785 comments Shannon Elizabeth wrote: "Omg! You did a great job setting this up, Kimber! It was exactly what was needed. I haven't read either Leonardo's Swans or Vivaldi's Virgins, although on the same plane as the latter, I did read [..."

Vivaldi's Virgins is the same way. It's more about the orphans of the Pieta than Vivaldi himself but still an interesting read. I absolutely loved Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore although it's typical Moore at his best with satire and sarcasm. Most of the 'art' historical fiction i've read so far has not been about the artist but about their muse or various subjects they painted so I'm not expecting a bio of Vermeer when I read GWAPE. Looking forward to it.


message 9: by Allie (new)

Allie | 1678 comments Lindsey wrote: "I really enjoyed Leaving Van Gogh and Luncheon of the Boating Party."

Added both! Thanks :)


message 10: by happy (last edited Aug 16, 2015 03:59PM) (new)

happy (happyone) | 2694 comments Irving Stone has a couple

The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone

about Michelangelo and not a bad movie staring Charton Heston

Lust for Life by Irving Stone

about Van Gogh again not a bad movie - this time starring Kirk Douglas

They were written in the late 40's early 50's so take that into account :)


message 11: by Kimber (new)

Kimber (kimberlibri) | 785 comments Allie wrote: "Lindsey wrote: "I really enjoyed Leaving Van Gogh and Luncheon of the Boating Party."

Added both! Thanks :)"


I'd seen Leaving Van Gogh before but the one about Renoir is new to me. Thanks for the suggestion. Also looking into the two Irving novels. Love this subject!


message 12: by Laureen (new)

Laureen (laureenandersonswfcomau) | 133 comments happy wrote: "Irving Stone has a couple

The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone

about Michelangelo and not a bad movie staring Charton Heston

Lust for Life by Irving Stone

about Van Gog..."


Loved the Agony & the Ecstasy. One of my all time favorites. Read a long time ago though.


message 13: by happy (new)

happy (happyone) | 2694 comments Same here - 30 yrs or more ago. One thing I do remember is that it covers his whole life, while the movie is just the painting of the Cistine Chapel.


message 14: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte Wightwick | 3 comments Hi all, fascinating thread.

I really enjoyed Girl With A Pearl Earring - personally I really like art-related books being about the subjects as often when I see a portrait, my first question is 'who IS that?' But I can see if you're after something more about the painter, that must be frustrating. I'm really looking forward to reading Leonardo's Swans to see what the author makes of the historical characters, though!

Other books to consider - Sarah Dunant's Birth of Venus and In the Company of the Courtesan are both inspired by works from the Italian Renaissance. Really strong writing in both although maybe the links are a bit indirect.

If you wanted something more based around a real artist then Alma Classics have recently reprinted 'Leonardo da Vinci - The Resurrection of the Gods' by Dmitry Merezhovsky (in English!) First published in 1900 it's a novel of its time and a bit of a doorstop but I quite enjoyed it for all that.

Happy reading and if anyone else has suggestions I'd love to hear them!

Best wishes
Charlotte


message 15: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte Wightwick | 3 comments PS I'm also about to start Philip Kazan's Painter of Souls (about Filippo Lippi) which I'm looking forward to.


message 16: by Kimber (new)

Kimber (kimberlibri) | 785 comments I've read Leonardo's Swans and quite enjoyed it even though Leo was only a smaller part of the book. The D'Este sisters fascinate me as well as that time in Italian history. I have both of Dunant's books on my TBR and really looking forward to In the Company of the Courtesan. I added all of her books after reading Blood & Beauty: The Borgias which I loved. I did just finish The Painted Kiss about one of my favourite painters, Gustav Klimt. I still love him as a painter but I'm not too fond of him as a person anymore. :D Christopher Moore has a book out called Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d'Art and although it's humour is typical Moore all of the characters are real life artists living in the Montmartre region of Paris during the late 1800's. I adored it but beware..it's genre cannot be defined. If i was pressed I'd say it was a humorous, satirical, historical fiction-fantasy.


message 17: by Allie (new)

Allie | 1678 comments Just added Sacré Bleu: A Comedy d'Art, thanks Kimber. Sounds awesome!


Shannon Elizabeth Heffner (thepinkroseoftexas) | 571 comments I just added Lucia A Venetian Life in the Age of Napoleon by Andrea Di Robilant Lucia: A Venetian Life in the Age of Napoleon. It's about an opera singer who had to put her life back together after the French Revolution. Best of all, it's based on a real person. The beautiful painting that graces the cover is a recently discovered portrait of her. I'm kicking this up a few notches on my TBR list!


message 19: by Kimber (last edited Aug 26, 2015 03:56PM) (new)

Kimber (kimberlibri) | 785 comments I just purchased Leaving Van Gogh for $1.99 for kindle in the States.
Artemisia Gentileschi: Her Life, Her Genius, Her Due for 2.99.


message 20: by Kimber (last edited Aug 26, 2015 04:06PM) (new)

Kimber (kimberlibri) | 785 comments Also added The Painted Girls about the Van Goetham sisters. One finds work in a play by Emile Zola while the other dances and models for Degas.
And Saving Mona Lisa...
Based closely on scholarly research, historical evidence and credible speculation, Saving Mona Lisa weaves an intriguing mystery as Leonardo clashes with his two young apprentices over the ultimate fate of a painting that had achieved world renown soon after everyone thought it was finished...everyone, that is, except Leonardo.

“Art is never finished, only abandoned.”
-Leonardo da Vinci

***The Kindle version of Saving Mona Lisa is programmed for easy reader navigation and includes short bios of the principal characters, maps, historical Afterword, Italian glossary, and over 30 illustrations and photographs of Leonardo’s most important works.


message 21: by Marilee (new)

Marilee (hatchling) | 77 comments I'm reading Death and Mr. Pickwick A Novel by Stephen Jarvis which while ostensibly a take on Dicken's Pickwick Papers, features illustrator/ characaturist Robert Seymour, whose satiric drawings and prints portrayed the world of Pickwick and Dickens.


Shannon Elizabeth Heffner (thepinkroseoftexas) | 571 comments Marilee wrote: "I'm reading Death and Mr. Pickwick A Novel by Stephen Jarvis which while ostensibly a take on Dicken's Pickwick Papers, features illustrator/ characaturist Robert Seymour, whose satiric ..."

That sounds really good, Marilee! I'm going to add that to my TBR list. I'm so glad that this thread was brought to life (thank you, Kimber!). Been adding books like crazy since its creation. Lol!


message 23: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte Wightwick | 3 comments Have just finished The Painter of Souls by Philip Kazan which I really did enjoy a great deal. Beautifully written - about Fra Filippo Lippi, Renaissance artist and (not very well behaved) monk. Looks like its the first of (2? 3?) about his life.


message 24: by Kimber (new)

Kimber (kimberlibri) | 785 comments Charlotte wrote: "Have just finished The Painter of Souls by Philip Kazan which I really did enjoy a great deal. Beautifully written - about Fra Filippo Lippi, Renaissance artist and (not very well behaved) mon..."

Thanks for the head's up Charlotte. That one looks like a new addition to my TBR. I did just finish Leaving Van Gogh and loved it. Keep an iPod, iPad or computer beside you and look up all the works Dr. Gachet mentions as the story goes on. It's really cool to know some of the circumstances behind Van Gogh's paintings. For ex. Almond Blossoms was painted to celebrate the birth of his nephew, Vincent.


message 25: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (caveatlector) | 5212 comments And I have put a Renaissance artistic book into the poll for next month, though I don't actually hold out much hope of its winning, Beyond Measure by Pauline Holdstock Beyond Measure by Pauline Holdstock.


message 26: by Shomeret (new)

Shomeret | 55 comments Dawn wrote: "And I have put a Renaissance artistic book into the poll for next month, though I don't actually hold out much hope of its winning, Beyond Measure by Pauline HoldstockBeyond Measure b..."

Unfortunately, it looks like I may have a hard time getting hold of Beyond Measure though I really would like to read it.

If you're interested in Japanese art traditions vs. Western art traditions, I would like to recommend The Mask Carver's Son by Alyson Richman.


message 27: by Kimber (new)

Kimber (kimberlibri) | 785 comments Dawn wrote: "And I have put a Renaissance artistic book into the poll for next month, though I don't actually hold out much hope of its winning, Beyond Measure by Pauline HoldstockBeyond Measure b..."

I voted for it but then I checked and it's not available in hardcover or ebook at Amazon. That tells me it's going to be a bit tough to locate at the bookstore as well. I can't stand Harold Godwinson so i'll skip the read this month but will keep this one my TBR and 'lookout list'. :D Thanks Dawn!


message 28: by Shannon Elizabeth (last edited Sep 11, 2015 10:45PM) (new)

Shannon Elizabeth Heffner (thepinkroseoftexas) | 571 comments Kimber wrote: "Dawn wrote: "And I have put a Renaissance artistic book into the poll for next month, though I don't actually hold out much hope of its winning, Beyond Measure by Pauline Holdstock[book:Beyond Measu..."

I also voted for Beyond Measure, and even though it will be kind of a hard find I still hope it wins (I know it's behind in the polls). I was surprised I hadn't heard of it before since it's right up my alley! Well, all the more reason I hope it gets picked!


message 29: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (caveatlector) | 5212 comments It's Canadian, probably why it's not so easy to find in the States and why you haven't heard of it either.


message 30: by Kimber (new)

Kimber (kimberlibri) | 785 comments Dawn wrote: "It's Canadian, probably why it's not so easy to find in the States and why you haven't heard of it either."

Actually that helps. I keep my Amazon account set to my US email address but I can also purchase books through my fiancé's addy and he is Canadian and I happen to be in Edmonton right now. I'll check to see if it's available this weekend since we are headed to the local Indigo bookstore tomorrow.


message 31: by Kimber (new)

Kimber (kimberlibri) | 785 comments I just finished The Secret Supper and really enjoyed it. It definitely helped to have an image of The Last Supper by my side while I was reading. Speaking of Leonardo, this is currently in the news:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/artic...
You might have seen it on your Facebook Feed as one of the main Fox news anchors attributed the Mona Lisa to Leonardo DiCaprio in his news segment! :D


Shannon Elizabeth Heffner (thepinkroseoftexas) | 571 comments I just read Becoming Lisette by Rebecca Glenn Becoming Lisette by Rebecca Glenn about the French court painter Elizabeth Vigée LeBrun. She was the personal portraitist to Marie Antoinette and several of her paintings are Antoinette's most famous poses. I liked it very much. In fact I read through it so fast that I think when I get the time I'll go back through it to savor it a bit more. It's also the first of a proposed trilogy so this book deals completely with Elizabeth before she becomes painter to the rich and famous!


message 33: by Kimber (new)

Kimber (kimberlibri) | 785 comments Shannon Elizabeth wrote: "I just read Becoming Lisette by Rebecca Glenn Becoming Lisette by Rebecca Glenn about the French court painter Elizabeth Vigée LeBrun. She was the personal port..."

I'm so ready for the next two to come out!


message 34: by Shannon Elizabeth (last edited Oct 14, 2015 11:08PM) (new)

Shannon Elizabeth Heffner (thepinkroseoftexas) | 571 comments Kimber wrote: I'm so ready for the next two to come out!

Me too! I thought it was so incredibly delightful and the next two can't be released soon enough. I think this author has a really bright career ahead of her.


Shannon Elizabeth Heffner (thepinkroseoftexas) | 571 comments Hey everyone! Claude & Camille A Novel of Monet by Stephanie Cowell Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet is on sale for $1.99! Even though I'm trying not to buy too many kindle books right now, I'm going to pick this up. :)


message 36: by Kimber (new)

Kimber (kimberlibri) | 785 comments I had to get it too Shannon. It's been on my artist TBR forever!


Shannon Elizabeth Heffner (thepinkroseoftexas) | 571 comments It's been on my TBR too, Kimber. When books like this come up for sale, all notions of not buying any more books go right out the window in less than a second. Lol! ;)


message 38: by Shannon Elizabeth (last edited Nov 11, 2015 11:00PM) (new)

Shannon Elizabeth Heffner (thepinkroseoftexas) | 571 comments Just added A Woman of Note by Carol M. Cram A Woman of Note by Carol M. Cram to my ever expanding TBR list. Wonderful plot and setting for an artistic novel. Early 19th century; female pianist wants to breakthrough a male dominated field; cameos by such awesome personages as Chopin and Schubert (among others)...what's not to like??


message 39: by C.P. (new)

C.P. Lesley (cplesley) | 564 comments I very much liked Little Woman in Blue, the story of May Alcott (Amy in her sister Louisa's novel, but the real May is much more complex and interesting).


message 40: by Alice (last edited Jan 09, 2016 06:18PM) (new)

Alice Poon (alice_poon) I'm currently reading The Garden of Evening Mists, one main theme of which is the art of Japanese gardening. The story is set in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia during the World War II period. I'm loving the book!


message 41: by Kimber (new)

Kimber (kimberlibri) | 785 comments Alice wrote: "I'm currently reading The Garden of Evening Mists, one main theme of which is the art of Japanese gardening. The story is set in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia during the World W..."

Oy vey! I have too much to read but this sounds great! Another one for the ever-growing TBR....


message 42: by Laureen (new)

Laureen (laureenandersonswfcomau) | 133 comments Can anyone help me with historical fiction or biographies on Picasso? I read that he wasn't a very nice person and would like to learn more about him.


message 43: by Kimber (new)

Kimber (kimberlibri) | 785 comments Life with Picasso seems like a very informative bio that reads somewhat like a novel. It deals mainly with his later life and his affair with Francoise Gilot...who also happens to be the author of the biography so she should now all the dirt.
Madame Picasso by Anne Girard is mainly about his affair/life with Eva Gouel, his first great love.
So his first love and his last.
To read something about one of his greatest works ( i haven't read this but it looks excellent) try Picasso's War by Russel Martin. It give the history behind Guernica, one of PIcasso's masterpieces and also follows it after it leaves the artist's hands. Beware..a lot of books with the title Picasso in them don't actually have anything to do with the Master...they are just placed within his lifetime, his locale or mention him briefly i.e. a couple falls in love over their mutual love of Picasso's artwork....
Good Luck!


message 44: by Kimber (new)

Kimber (kimberlibri) | 785 comments Laureen wrote: "Can anyone help me with historical fiction or biographies on Picasso? I read that he wasn't a very nice person and would like to learn more about him."

I should also ask if you love his artwork? Sometimes it is hard to separate the artwork from the artist's life. One of my favourite artists is Klimt...rather I should say some of my favourite artwork is by Klimt. After reading some historical fiction and bio's about him I figured out he was pretty much a womanizing, philandering asshole who 'fell in love' with women while he was painting them and then pretty much cast them aside. His lifelong companion, Emile Floge, spent her entire life by his side and it is thought they weren't even lovers. She loved him. He loved her loving him. *sigh*


message 45: by Alice (new)

Alice Poon (alice_poon) Kimber wrote: "Alice wrote: "I'm currently reading The Garden of Evening Mists, one main theme of which is the art of Japanese gardening. The story is set in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia duri..."

Kimber, I've just finished The Garden of Evening Mists and have given it 5 stars! An absolute charmer for me. My Review


message 46: by Shannon Elizabeth (last edited Jan 12, 2016 11:25PM) (new)

Shannon Elizabeth Heffner (thepinkroseoftexas) | 571 comments Alice wrote: "Kimber, I've just finished The Garden of Evening Mists and have given it 5 stars..."

This book sounds wonderful! Adding it to my TBR list. (That list is getting so ridiculously long I truly wonder if I'll ever get to all the books on it. Lol!)


message 47: by Eileen (last edited Jan 13, 2016 06:21AM) (new)

Eileen Iciek | 544 comments Alice wrote: "Kimber wrote: "Alice wrote: "I'm currently reading The Garden of Evening Mists, one main theme of which is the art of Japanese gardening. The story is set in the Cameron Highlands o..."

That was an excellent book!

As for books about artists, I've read a few of them, many of them well written, but I've come to the conclusion that the lives of artists are not all that interesting. Most of the time, the author has to make stuff up about the artist, or try to make incidents in their lives more meaningful than they were. I'm just not sure how exciting a novel can be about someone standing in front of an easel most of the time.


message 48: by Kimber (new)

Kimber (kimberlibri) | 785 comments Eileen wrote: "Alice wrote: "Kimber wrote: "Alice wrote: "I'm currently reading The Garden of Evening Mists, one main theme of which is the art of Japanese gardening. The story is set in the Camer..."

I think that is why most of the books about artists are either told from the perspective of another person or are more about their muses than the artist themselves. My favourite part of reading the 'artistic historical fiction' is googling the artwork as they talk about it in the book, seeing things I never would have seen if i'd just looked at the work without commentary and changing how i view a certain piece by an artist once i know some of what was going on while it was being painted. I've read a few that are obviously completely fictionalized but even a smidgeon of story behind the work helps imprint it in my memory. For ex. I had two history teachers in one year my first semester at University. The first taught history with long lists on the blackboard of names and dates. I would cram those into my head the day before the test and promptly forget them afterwards. I can honestly say I don't remember a single thing about that course...even the professor's name. The second teacher taught history through stories and pictures. To this day I remember his name, the stories he told and I actually pass them on when relevant in conversation. I feel the same way about historical fiction as I do about the second teacher (but I do take my fiction with a grain of salt..after all it is fiction :D


message 49: by Kimber (last edited Jan 13, 2016 03:55PM) (new)

Kimber (kimberlibri) | 785 comments Wow..that was long. Sorry y'all. Definitely putting The Garden of Evening Mists on my Kindle. :D
It says on the description that it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 21O2. Nice!


message 50: by Alice (last edited Jan 13, 2016 05:11PM) (new)

Alice Poon (alice_poon) Kimber wrote: "Wow..that was long. Sorry y'all. Definitely putting The Garden of Evening Mists on my Kindle. :D
It says on the description that it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 21O2. Nice!"


Kimber, it won the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize.


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