Marcia Brownlow, a young, unemployed American governess in late nineteenth century Italy, masquerades as a man to advance her career. She adopts the persona of her dead brother Mark and becomes the protégée of Arthur Wolcott, a famous American expatriate author who discovers Marcia's artistic talent. Wolcott introduces his protégée to wealthy art patrons in Florence, Venice, Paris, and London, including three women who, deceived as to Marcia's sex, fall in love with the captivating artist. Marcia emulates her idol, the great English landscape artist William Turner. As she develops her skills, James Whistler, John Singer Sargent, and Sir Frederic Leighton, the leader of the London art establishment, praise her paintings of Florence and Venice. However, on the eve of her greatest triumph, Marcia's first love returns to threaten her with exposure and scandal.
The Flower to the Painter is...an enjoyable read – its tone delightful, its subject matter intriguing – and it should not disappoint the reader.
Alison Steadman, Halfway Down the Stairs