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.
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"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