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Rembrandt's Whore Paperback – May, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-1841951751 ISBN-10: 1841951757 Edition: First Edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 198 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Crime; First Edition edition (May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841951757
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841951751
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,806,152 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Matton uses the woman who served as Rembrandt's emotional anchor to explore the tumultuous second half of the artist's life in this fascinating novel. Twenty-year-old Hendrickje Stoffels makes the journey from her Dutch village to Amsterdam to model for the famous painter, who is 43 as the novel opens. The modeling job turns into a lifelong affair that produces a child, Titus but when Rembrandt refuses a marriage request from Stoffels's predecessor, Stoffels is condemned and labeled a whore by the Catholic Church. Their love goes far beyond the physical realm, however, and it is the young woman who ends up caring for the painter, protecting him from his voracious creditors and the Amsterdam politicians who would exploit his formidable talent. Matton hits some rough stretches in the early going as she bounces back and forth between Stoffels's first-person observations of Rembrandt, the politics of the era and the effect of the plague on Amsterdam. But things smooth out once she gets past their initial liaisons, and the plague becomes a de facto character in the background as Rembrandt struggles to consolidate his artistic legacy. Matton could have speculated more about what Stoffels may have known about Rembrandt's artistic inspirations, but overall this is a fascinating, illuminating look at the pressures he faced in the later stages of his life. Despite the tantalizing gaps in this unusual character study, the distinctive conceit and Matton's ability to follow through on it make this a noteworthy book.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Review

"A fascinating, illuminating look at the pressures he faced in the later stages of his life. . . . the distinctive conceit and Matton's ability to follow through on it make this a noteworthy book."  —Publishers Weekly
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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If you are looking for pulp fiction, look elsewhere.
RanitaB
She also has a unique way of blending story lines with the Rembrandt's paintings that enriches the story even more.
Robert Spencer
This makes it difficult to read and quite franky boring.
Juan C Villamil

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Robert Spencer on January 20, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Writing historical fiction or biography presents unique challenges. The author must reconcile what is known with an act of the imagination to create characters and story. This is true even when writing non fiction, with fiction it is even trickier. I have recently read "Girl with Pearl Earing" and "Girl in Hyacinth Blue", two other novels attempting to portray the golden age of art in Holland, both centering around Vermeer. Both are noteworthy, but this effort, about Rembrandt, surpasses both.
First of all, the main character, from whose point of view the story is told, thinks more like someone in the 17th century than the characters in the other two novels. There is the omnipresence of religion, the imagery with which thought occurrs(the little white worms!). Then there is the sense of time and place..Amsterdam here is not some nostalgic spot in the Dutch past, but a complex culture mixing religion, innovation, and art in the country where modern capitalism arguably emerged. It is the merchants who rule this world, not the old aristocracy, and this world is in flux. The tension between the merchant class, the religious reaction to them, and artist as personified by Rembrandt is fascinatiog. One also feels the force of natural events, the Plague, and the floods which always threatened Holland.
There is much about Rembrandt here, much about the struggle of an artist who attempts to remain true to his vision, both as an artist and as a human being, against the spirit of a conservative phillistine society.The descriptions of Rembrandt's way of seeing the world, and most importantly the people in it, will change the way you look at his art.
Lastly, this book is simply a joy to read. Mattons language is rich and evocative and lingers in the mind.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Juan C Villamil on April 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
REMBRANDT'S WHORE takes place during the second half of Rembrandt's life, in Amsterdam. It tells the story of Hendrickje Stoffels, a 20 year old girl who moves in from the country, in order to serve as maid in Rembrandt's household.

Rembrandt has her pose for his paintings, and soon falls in love with her. Because of a contract he has signed, regarding not being able to marry after his former wife's death, at the expense of having to pay a sum which he does not posses, he is not able to marry her, and thus she becomes his "whore".

From a historical perspective, we are exposed to war, the plague, religious intolerance, and politics. All of these factors play important roles as they compose the background of the story.

The second half of Rembrandt's life was characterized by bankruptcy, illness, and his downfall from Amsterdam's best known painter to his being exploited by various political figures, who took advantage of his precarious situation. Hendrickje stands by him and provides him with care, emotional support, and a child, Cornelia.

It is because of her that Rembrandt is able to live, having lost his wife Saskia and children in a tragic manner.

The plot is well conceived and interesting.

I was unpleasantly surprised by the book's form. REMBRANDT'S WHORE is basically a monologue by Hendrickje, sometimes in first person, and others in second, as she talks directly to Rembrandt. Quite franky, the novel is often confusing.

Also, due to the fact that a 20 year old, practically illiterate, peasant girl narrates the story, the novel's flow is absolutely nonexistent. This makes it difficult to read and quite franky boring.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Paul Azzopardi on March 30, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a great little book. I enjoyed it tremendously. It brings the artist to life and shows how life with the Rembrandt felt like for Hendrickje, a country girl who became Rembrandt's common law wife. The book shows how it was to live in Amsterdam back in the mid-1600s, in all the little details. It is also a study of the intricate social structures which dominate small communities everywhere. The book is thick with atmosphere and envelopes the reader in another age showing what it must have felt like to live with a genius, at the time of the Plague, and submerged in religious bigotry. It also artfully weaves into the story the feelings of a good woman as she copes with her love, her passions, people, misunderstanding, prayer and fears. A great read for those interested in Rembrandt and Holland during the 1600s. I read the book in the silence of my room, alone, so nobody could lurch me out of that atmosphere and that age !
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Fred C. Bunch on May 29, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I was fascinated by the title of the book and it took a while to find it. It was worth the search.
Based on numerous sources, the author, Sylvie Matton, has produced a fascinating tale of the lives of Rembrandt and his mistress Hendrickje Stoffels, as related through Stoffels eyes and thoughts. Stoffels left no traces of her life because she could neither, read nor write because girls weren't allowed the privilege.
For the last years of Rembrandt's life he loved, painted and fathered a child, Cornelia, with his twenty-year-old house maid, Hendrickje Stoffels. He was 43-years old and widowed with a son, Titus. Titus was born in 1642, but Rembrandt's wife Saskia died a few months later. Geetje Dircx was hired as Titus' drynurse, but after Saskia's death, become Rembrandt's model and lover. She and Rembrandt apparently ceased to be lovers, however she stayed to become head of his household staff.
Hendrickje had left her family, over her mother's protests and journeyed to Amsterdam to become one of his housekeepers. But, in just a matter weeks she become his model, lover and pregnant. Their affair is complicated when Geetie becomes livid and storms out of the house. But Rembrandt refuses a demand of the church council to marry Stoffels. The refusal turns their lives into a turmoil. The story takes the reader through an inside look at the painter's life, the morals of the period and life and death in a city stricken by the Black Plague, all through the voice of Hendrickje.
It makes for a fascinating story. I don't think you'll be disappointed.
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