Title: A Light of Her Own
Writer: Carrie Callaghan
Publishing House: Amberjack Publishing
Date of Publication: November 13th 2018
Rating: 1 star
Holland, during the 17th century. Judith and Maria are two women who are struggling to find their footing in a society that closes all doors to the ones who don’t fit in the religious images cultivated by an endless battle between different denominations. It closes all doors to women who are talented and brave enough to seek a better future, to make their talents one. Judith Leyster wants to be a painter, following the great tradition of her country. In order to do so, she needs to convince the men in the profession that she deserves to be taken seriously. She struggles to make them pay attention to her creations, not her petticoats. And Maria? Maria has to live in fear because of her faith. Her only solution is the search of a holy relic that will make her atone for whatever sins she has committed…
And this is one of the worst Historical Fiction novels I’ve ever read.
Excuse me, dear friends, but no. NO! How could one of the most important women in the History of Art be transformed into a walking snoozefest that behaves like a petulant schoolgirl is a dark mystery to me. I won’t even waste my time and yours to talk about Maria because I skipped most of her chapters to avoid gauging my eyes out with a knife. Bayern was on TV and I wanted to watch the game, needing my eyesight to do so. Therefore, no Maria for me after the 40% mark, thank you. In my opinion, both women are one-dimensional characters, unoriginal, boring, bad copies of female main protagonists we have seen before in much better books.
It is so sad that a beautiful setting and an exciting era went to waste due to a lack of events, repetition and implausible twists that had no function whatsoever. I mean, dear writer, show! Don’t tell. I don’t need a thousand paragraphs describing Judith and Maria’s thoughts and differences. Write an adequate dialogue and create events that have a meaning and an outcome. Don’t give me a pseudo-psychological treaty. Now that I mentioned the haunted word ‘’dialogue’’, I have to tell you that every interaction in this book sounded (to me, obviously) like an uninspired period piece seen on a second-rate TV channel. Examples follow. Proceed with caution, dearest friends:
‘’I’ll be right back.’’ (In Holland, in the year of Our Lord 1633. Yeah, dude, whatever…Seriously, I expected to come across the previous exclamation somewhere in the course of the ‘’story’’.)
And more examples, all from the same chapter:
‘’Forgive me for interrupting you. You were painting?’’
‘’Of course, that’s wonderful. I mean, obviously you’re painting, but it’s wonderful work.’’
‘’That’s perfect. Wonderful. Thank you. I’ll be back soon.’’
Welcome to the Dutch version of a Nickelodeon Art School programme taking place in the 17th century. I must be punished for some serious sins I committed in a past life…
I’ve had such high hopes for this one and they were crushed from the very first chapters. I am aware that many readers have loved this novel but personally, it made me fall asleep. In truth, what did I expect from a book that contained the phrases ‘’She clenched her jaw shut….’’ and ‘’She sucked in a half breath…’’ ?
P.S. How do you suck in a half breath? I genuinely want to know.
Once again, in the immortal words of the world’s greatest detective:
Many thanks to Amberjack Publishing and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.