Just finished The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland, a historical fiction novel about Artemisia Gentileschi, a female artist in the male-dominated Baroque Age. This is the 2nd book by Susan Vreeland, whom I look forward to reading more of. I seem to be finding a lot of really great books about painters lately. Her first book, Girl in Hyacinth Blue, is the amazing tracing of one painting, suspected to be an unknown Vermeer, from modern times back to the artist, through the hands of its owners, and how it moved and influenced each person whose hands it passed through.
The Virgin's Knot by Holly Payne, the story of a woman in mid-19th century Turkey who, having been crippled by polio at age 5, has compensated by becoming a weaver. Her rugs are said to be magical, capable of healing the sick, bringing good fortune, and guaranteeing male children for those lucky enough to own one. Understandably, she has mixed emotions about her abilities. Cinematically and beautifully written, the ending was unpredictable, always a bonus.
One of my favorite books from childhood, The Three Toymakers by Ursula Moray Williams, is filled with the magical story of the competition between 3 toymakers in a remote mountain village in Europe. Illustrated with the warm, engaging drawings of Shirley Hughes, this book is a must read. I hunted it down as an adult and it was every bit as good as I remembered. The care with which Rudy carves his musical box with the tiny dancing figures of all the villagers; the whirling, dancing, obscenity-shrieking antics of the doll-come-to-life Marta, and the journey through the wolf-filled forest to the competition at the king's palace are among the many, many written images that make up a book as wonderful and memorable for adults as for children.