Arguably the most major female figure in the Renaissance art world, Artemisia Genteleschi is the subject of Susan Vreeland's second novel.

At 18, Artemisia is in papal court fighting to see her art teacher, the man who raped her, punished. When she is ridiculed (even her father dismisses the accusations), she asks her father to arrange a marriage for her. She and her husband, Pietro Stiatessi, move to his home in Florence.

There Artemisia flourishes, garnering commissions from Michaelangelo's nephew and Cosimo de Medici, the most powerful man in Florence. She is the first woman elected to the Academia dell'Arte. As her fame grows, her marriage suffers, compelling Artemisia to take her daughter and travel to Genoa, Venice and finally back to Rome. All the time, she struggles to balancing being an artist, wife and mother.

THE PASSION OF ARTEMISIA is a stunning portrait of a woman in search of herself. Ms. Vreeland infuses her novel with vivid depictions of Renaissance pageantry and personages. Readers will be drawn to Artemisia's battle as both an artist and a woman who follows her dreams. SWEET (Now available, 350 pp., $22.95)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin