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The Anatomy Lesson: A Novel Kindle Edition

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Length: 290 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews

Review

 "A literary page-turner that captures a story behind a masterpiece, but [Siegal's] talent is in exploring the wrenching emotion of loss and the price that's paid for trying to understand human life." - Oprah Book of the Week
 
"Once in a rare while, you get to read a story of such breathtaking beauty and intelligence that you remember why you love to read. The Anatomy Lesson is just such a novel. In stunning prose, Nina Siegal animates Rembrandt's first masterpiece, spinning a deeply affecting tale of love, loss and redemption as she reveals the secrets of the human soul. It is a gorgeous literary page turner of immense sympathy and elegance, equal in artistic élan to its inspiration. Brava!" --Robin Oliveira, author of My Name is Mary Sutter and I Always Loved You

"Rembrandt's 'The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp' is a narrative in paint which tells a story of Amsterdam in its Golden Age. Now, Nina Siegal's lovely novel dissects the dissection, evocatively translating the painted narrative into words, bringing a grim tableau to life and reanimating a moment in history when art, science, life, and death converged." Russell Shorto, author of Amsterdam: A History of the World's Most Liberal City

"Brilliantly structured, wonderfully evocative, filled with vivid characters, The Anatomy Lessontransports the reader to that day in 1632 when the coat thief Aris Kindt passed from life to death and from death, thanks first to Rembrandt and now Nina Siegal, into immortality." Margot Livesey, author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy


"Through masterful use of subtle details, embroidered into beautiful writing, Siegal suggests that art and violence often intertwine."
- Publishers Weekly


About the Author

Nina Siegal received a Fulbright Grant in Creative Writing to begin research for THE ANATOMY LESSON in Amsterdam in 2006. It was supposed to be a nine-month project, but ended up being a six-year long odyssey to learn the story of the dead man in the eponymous Rembrandt painting. During that time, Siegal also launched and ran Time Out Amsterdam as editor-in-chief, and became managing editor for Flow magazine international, a new magazine title. She is now a regular freelance contributor to the International New York Times, covering art and culture in Europe.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3256 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor (March 11, 2014)
  • Publication Date: March 11, 2014
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00F8F7MQM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,242 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Nina Siegal grew up in New York City and Great Neck, Long Island, but these days she lives in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where she works as an author and a frequent contributor to the International New York Times. She got her BA at Cornell University and her MFA in Fiction at the Iowa Writers Workshop. Although she has written extensively about women in US prisons, housing and homelessness, and all sorts of urban cultural issues, Siegal lately focuses on the intersection of art and society, which is also the theme of both her novels.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Amateur curmudgeon VINE VOICE on February 3, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
By an interesting coincidence I happened to read this novel shortly after watching Peter Greenaway's "J'accuse," a movie about another Rembrandt painting, "The Night Watch."

This is a charming novel, written from seven different points of view:
The Body, Adriaen Adrianenzoon, also known as Aris Kindt. The executed criminal whose body will be dissected by:
The Hands, Dr. Nicholas Tulp, a prominent, arrogant, and ambitious Amsterdam physician.
The Heart, A pregnant girl, Flora, who carries Aris' unborn child and tries to save him, or at least his body.
The Mouth, Jan Fetchet, a curio dealer and famulus anatomicus who provides the body to Dr. Tulp.
The Mind, Rene Descartes, prominent philosopher.
The Eyes, those of Rembrandt who composes the painting while also harboring a secret.
And finally, 500 years after the events, the voice of Pia, the restoration expert who, while restoring the painting, uncovers a mistery.

This is a bright story told around a dark subject. The life and times of Adrien Adrianenzoon, the cadaver in the painting. How came he to be there, what circumstances drove him, how came the picture to be composed in such a way. Around the tale, Nina Siegal weaves a complex tapestry of life in Amsterdam during the 1630s, during the tulip craze, when Indiamen brought the wealth of nations to the harbor of this small nation.

It is also a subtle exploration of the criminal mind, of how the condemned man is doomed almost from the outset, unable and unwilling to reform himself, and crashing, over and over against the unforgiving society that, in the end, refuses to give him yet another chance.

It weaves, too, a love story, how the wretched figure on the anatomy slab can still be loved by someone and the power that such love has to restore him.

A must read for art lovers and lovers of historical fiction.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By delicateflower152 TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 25, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Readers who love art history; those who value character-driven story development; and those who find intelligently written books worthy of their time will want to read "The Anatomy Lesson: A Novel". Nina Siegal has given readers the fictional back-story of Rembrandt's famous painting "The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicholas Tulp". In doing so, she has provided a personal, humanized view of characters depicted in the painting and of others with whom those individuals came in contact.

Each of the major characters - with a few exceptions, Rene Descartes and Dr. Tulp - narrates his or her own portions of "The Anatomy Lesson: A Novel". Further, designating each character's narrative portions by a body part that might be closely associated with that individual begins to define the relationships between the individuals and the story. Thus, the narrative of the thief - Adriaen Adriaenszoon - is designated as "The Body"; his paramour Flora's portions as "The Heart"; Rembrandt's as "The Eyes"; Jan Fetchet the surgeon's assistant's portions as "The Mouth"; and those of Dr. Nicholas Tulp's by "The Hands." Tulp's portions are written mainly in the third person, but on occasion, do speak in the first person. Sections involving Rene Descartes, the voice of scientific observation are designated as "The Mind". These, as are Dr. Tulp's sections, are written in the third person rendering them more detached and impersonal as befits scientific observation. Only in correspondence does Descartes speak in the first person. As a body is made of separate organs or parts, so too do the separate, individual stories combine to make up the whole of "The Anatomy Lesson: A Novel".
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Skymom on March 24, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I wish this book were one I loved, but it isn't. In fact, it frustrated me from almost the first page. I made the mistake of first reading the author's acknowledgements, in which she expresses gratitude to numerous highly respected historians and art historians who, she says, guided her in her understanding of the historical period and of the Rembrandt painting itself. Thus, I anticipated a carefully-researched, evocative interpretation of the time period and of the characters she chose to include. This promise was not fulfilled.

There was plenty of name-dropping throughout, which gave a sense that there was lots of historically accurate detail, but it felt to me as if she simply regurgitated information from secondary sources into a rather thin, contrived plotline. I'll credit her with having chosen excellent secondary sources--among the best writers on Rembrandt there are.

I didn't mind the multiple points of views concept--it felt a little awkward, but was an interesting approach to the narrative she wanted to tell; and I didn't mind the invention of scenes between fictive characters and historical characters--that's what makes historical fiction interesting. (I didn't much care for the characters, real or imagined, as she drew them, however, but that's just my opinion.) What I minded were the many lapses in historical and technical accuracy, the slips into highly anachronistic language (I think she mentioned a "clone," for example!), and the apparent lack of understanding of how a painting is made.
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