The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola
The most famous woman you’ve never heard of
by Melissa Muldoon
Set in the sixteenth-century “The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola” tells the love story of a woman’s passion for art… and for a man. In a world where women painters had little to no acknowledgment, she was singled out by Michelangelo and Vasari, who recognized and praised her talent. Gaining the Milanese elite’s acclaim, she went on to become Court painter to the Spanish King Phillip II, and teach his Queen to paint. One can’t live such an extraordinary life without having stories to tell… and tell them Sofonisba does to Sir Anthony Van Dyke, who comes to visit her toward the end of her life. During their meeting, she agrees to reveal her secrets but first challenges the younger painter to find the one lie hidden in her tale. In a saga filled with intrigue, jealousy, buried treasure, unrequited love, espionage, and murder, Sofonisba’s story is played out against the backdrop of Italy, Spain, and Sicily. Throughout her life, she encounters talented artists, authoritative dukes, mad princes, religious kings, spying queens, vivacious viscounts, and dashing sea captains—even a Barbary pirate. But of all the people who fell in love with Sofonisba, only one captured her heart. The painter may have many secrets… but the truth of her life is crystal clear from the beginning: always a strong, passionate woman with a dream—she was an intelligent artist who knew her own self-worth, and in the end, as Michelangelo had done for her, Sofonisba passed her brush to a new generation.
Reviews tout The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola as Muldoon’s finest work. Reader Views says, “Muldoon continues to inspire women through her stories. This is her best work yet.” Dianne Hales, author of La Bella Lingua notes, “Through meticulous research, Melissa Muldoon spins a captivating tale of a Renaissance woman. Sofonisba defied the conventions of her time to follow her heart and make her living by her brush.” Kate Braithwaite, author of Charlatan, The Road to Newgate adds, “This is a novel rich in description, romance, and adventure that combines detailed research with excellent characterization. Put simply, it’s everything a historical novel should be.”