Friday, November 16, 2018

Book Review and Giveaway - A Light of Her Own by Carrie Callaghan

Book Synopsis
In Holland 1633, a woman’s ambition has no place.

Judith is a painter, dodging the law and whispers of murder to become the first woman admitted to the prestigious Haarlem artist’s guild. Maria is a Catholic in a country where the faith is banned, hoping to absolve her sins by recovering a lost saint’s relic.

Both women’s destinies will be shaped by their ambitions, running counter to the city’s most powerful men, whose own plans spell disaster. A vivid portrait of a remarkable artist, A Light of Her Own is a richly-woven story of grit against the backdrop of Rembrandt and an uncompromising religion.


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My Review

A Light of Her Own tells the story of Judith Leyster and Maria de Grebber.  Both women were painters in 1600's Holland.  Judith was driven to paint, driven to succeed, while Maria was more interested in religion and spirituality.  This novel explores their lives independently and also their friendship.


Before reading this novel, I knew very little about life in Holland during this period.  The author, Carrie Callaghan, did an amazing job of evoking the time and place.   The descriptions of walking through town, life at home, and especially life in the artist's studio were absolutely fascinating.


I also was not familiar with Judith Leyster and her role in the Dutch Golden Age of art.  I spent some time looking up her paintings after reading this book, and am grateful that I learned more about her life and work through reading A Light of Her Own.


The book started a bit slowly for me, but I soon was engrossed in the lives of these women -- especially Judith, with her painting, her struggle to succeed in a world of men, and her unusual (for a woman) acceptance into the Haarlem artist's guild. 


Carrie Callaghan has a painterly way with descriptions, and I found many of the descriptions of daily life and the artistic process to be vivid and fascinating.  For example, Judith carries buttons for a future painting in her pocket:

"She reached into her pocket, the pouch hung from her waist, and took out a handful of buttons.  It was a habit of hers to carry around the components of a painting so she could consider them, learn their curves and their secrets, whenever she had a free moment" (chapter 3, location 259).


I recommend this novel for readers of historical fiction, and especially for anyone who is interested in art history.

Author Bio

Carrie Callaghan is a writer living in Maryland with her spouse, two young children, and two ridiculous cats. Her short fiction has appeared in Weave Magazine, The MacGuffin, Silk Road, Floodwall, and elsewhere. Carrie is also an editor and contributor with the Washington Independent Review of Books. She has a Master’s of Arts in International Affairs from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

For more information, please visit Carrie Callaghan’s website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook,  Twitter and Goodreads.


During the Blog Tour we will be giving away 2 signed hardcovers of A Light of Her Own! To enter, please see the Gleam form below. 

Giveaway Rules 
– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 7th. You must be 18 or older to enter. 
– Giveaway is open to US residents only. 
– Only one entry per household. 
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion. 
– Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.  
A Light of Her Own
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley and Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours.

1 comment:

Passages to the Past said...

Thank you so much for hosting Carrie's tour & for your great review! I'm so happy that you enjoyed A Light of Her Own!

HF Virtual Book Tours