In this historical fiction novel, the author meticulously researched the lives of Judith Leyster and Maria de Grebber, two unknown Dutch painters in the 17th century. The story is about their friendship and their destinies, which would eventually be shaped by their own independent ambitions ... A Light of Her Own, as a portrait of two brave and ambitious Dutch women painters, and a glimpse into 17th century life in Holland, is recommended to all fans of historical fiction.
Though most of Leyster’s life beyond her painting has been lost to history, Carrie Callaghan, in her debut novel, A Light of Her Own, has brilliantly re-imagined this woman who dared to believe herself the equal of her male Artists’ Guild co-members ... In A Light of Her Own, Carrie Callaghan has created a remarkable pair of heroines... And the Netherlands of the 17th century is described to us as only an artist — and a realist — could ... With details like these, A Light of Her Own catches the reader in a web of intrigue, art, and ambition and does not let go until the final page.
A Light of Her Own is a beautifully crafted story set in seventeenth-century Holland, in which two women navigate the law, destiny, and their unstoppable ambition ... Carrie Callaghan imagines a profound friendship between the historical women, and Judith and Maria’s stories weave together and apart, their fates carrying them. Judith struggles to keep painting in the face of adversities, including those related to her gender. Her brother brings shame to the family name, and teaching apprentices comes with fees and difficulties. Meanwhile, Maria battles a secret that weighs her down ... A Light of Her Own is a riveting fictionalized account of Judith Leyster and Maria de Grebber’s connections.
Against the backdrop of 1630s Holland, where women have little power and religion is strictly regulated, Callaghan’s debut shines a light on the friendship between two artists: Judith Leyster, the first woman admitted to the prestigious Haarlem artists’ guild, and Maria de Grebber, a devout Catholic determined to atone for past sins by recovering a lost saint’s relic ... While the pacing is a bit slow, and there is one subplot too many, patient readers will appreciate the many vivid details of seventeenth-century Dutch life. Fans of Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring will enjoy this darker, grittier peek into the history of Dutch art and the struggles of women within that world.
Set in 1633 Holland, Callaghan’s riveting debut convincingly brings to life determined painter Judith Leyster, the first woman to attain master status in the cutthroat profession ... Callaghan skillfully balances both the intricacies of the 17th-century Dutch art world and the religious persecution of the time, making this a dextrously woven and engrossing historical novel.