As someone with an interest in art, I was intrigued by Will Davenport’s “The Painter”.
It’s a dual time period novel, with one storyline following the footsteps of Dutch artist Harmenszoon van Rijn, more commonly known as the Baroque great Rembrandt.
In 1662, Rembrandt is penniless and stows away on a ship bound for Hull. The cost of the voyage is to paint Captain Dahl’s portrait.
On arrival in Hull, Rembrandt meets Dahl’s wife, the alluring Amelia, and becomes besotted with her. What does a famous artist do when he meets a beautiful woman? He paints her, of course . . . in secret.
So begins a game of subterfuge, with English poet Andrew Marvell also a player for Amelia’s affections.
Davenport’s Rembrandt is a grouchy, detached individual. His genius is apparent, as is his desire to capture human emotions through his work. Throughout the novel, the insolvent Rembrandt is driven by the perfection of his art.
The present day story sees Amy Dale, also an artist, help restore Dahl’s old house by the River Humber.
Amy finds Amelia’s secret journal, and begins piecing together Rembrandt’s time spent in England. As Amy is to find out, some secrets are better left in the dark.
Like the Dutch master’s own work on light and shade, the intertwining tales work seamlessly together. Having said that, I would have preferred Rembrandt’s storyline to have had a more satisfying conclusion.
As the novel progressed, the modern day mystery dictated events. Though Amy’s personality stood out, most of my interest was taken with the period characters, who were more intricately portrayed.
Befitting the subject matter, “The Painter” makes for a visual read.
Though Amy is the heroine, Rembrandt is the true star.
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