Dear Mrs Kaye,
What am I to do, now that I’ve finished you’re the Beauty Within? It was a story that gripped me, and when the bar in my kindle reached 100%, I was so sad that it had finished already. I could have read a hundred pages more about this story.
An artist myself, I was fascinated by a novel that discussed art in an honest fashion. I was relieved to find no major mistake in the description of Giovanni di Matteo’s craft, although I certainly can’t figure his looser style as “impressionistic” (in 1828!); more like a late Tintoretto or Goya (mentioned in the postscript.) Especially considering that the British avant-garde (I mean the Pre-Raphaelites), a few years later, will not go toward a looser style at all, on the contrary.
I was a bit bothered by one of the discussions between Giovanni and Cressida, that making commercially successful portraits he is somehow prostituting himself. Dear Mrs Kaye, as you know perfectly well, being a writer, it is never a matter of commercially successful = prostituting one’s own soul, and artistic expression = salvation. Artists have to eat and pay rents as well, and it’s always more a compromise than a complete dichotomy: selling one’s own talent for money is no different from any other job. Many times artists have to accept works they don’t feel much in order to work. After all, being a professional means working every day, sun or rain, not setting down only when one is inspired.
But I digress. I have been fascinated by Cressie’s and Giovanni’s love story, I found their romance believable (especially the further into the story we got; I winced at the first almost-kiss, given when they had known each other for barely ten minutes.) I loved Bella and her relationship with Cressie.
Cressida herself is a strange mixture of a character. Mathematician (but we hardly read anything in depth about her theories), woman in disguise, she alternates logic with (less logic) outbursts of emotion (as when she scolds Giovanni after the tea party disaster.) Giovanni is simply a fascinating buttoned-up man (forgiving his first half-kiss.)
Since Giovanni is Italian, there are several sentences quoted in Italian in the novel, but they are not always correct. “Bellissimo/a” is written with two “l” and two “s”. “Bravissimo” becomes “bravissima” when directed to a woman. “Inferno” (Hell!) is not a curse we use; at the very least we could say, “Per tutti i diavoli dell’inferno!” (For all the hell’s devils!), but it’s not very common. “Pronto” is not an adverb in Italian, but an adjective: we don’t say “do that thing pronto”, “do that thing subito (or: ora, immediatamente, etc.)”
Dear Mrs Kaye, unfortunately the other books about the Armstrong sisters are infested with sheiks (I’m not remotely interested in sheiks) or adulteries, but I’ll find something more in your backlist to read....Continua