The Creation of Eve – Book Review

The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen

Sofonisba Anguissola (Sofi) was a rare woman in 16th century Italy. The daughter of a fairly progressive printer, she and her sisters were educated, and her talent for painting was nurtured. She was so talented, that she actually was invited to study with Michelangelo. Unfortunately, she was caught by the maestro himself in a compromising position with another student. Mortified, she flees home. Before too long, though, she is summoned by King Phillip of Spain to come and be one of the ladies and painting instructor for his new bride, Elizabeth of France. Life is not easy at court, however. Elizabeth’s French and Spanish ladies are at each other’s throats, the King’s sister is heavily involved in the Inquisition and the persecution of Michaelangelo in Rome, and the King’s bastard brother and son both seem to be in love with the young queen, who is of an age with them.

I’m not entirely sure how much I liked this book. Cullen is telling an interesting story, as well as one that is well-written. However, for quite some time I just didn’t feel that “The Creation of Eve” had the spark that really makes historical fiction come to life and become extremely engaging. That being said, I suddenly realized near the end that I was having a very difficult time putting the book down. Really, it all just sort of snuck up on me. I think my problem, though, was that Sofi was used primarily as a vehicle to study the Queen, Don Carlos, King Phillip, and Don Juan, so I didn’t get a good feel of Sofi’s self. I would have liked more about being a woman painter, even about being in the Queen’s service, and less about the fickleness of Elizabeth.

Cullen has a lot of talent as a novelist of historical fiction, but “The Creation of Eve” didn’t work quite as well as I had hoped it would.

Buy this book from:
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This review was done with a book received from the publisher at the request of TLC Blog Tours.
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I read this book as part of a TLC Book Tour.  Check out some of the other tour hosts for more reviews.  Links go to the host’s site, not to their specific review.

Wednesday, March 3rd: Scandalous Women

Thursday, March 4th: Café of Dreams

Monday, March 8th: Books and Movies

Tuesday, March 9th: Booking Mama

Thursday, March 11th: Peeking Between the Pages

Monday, March 15th: Fyrefly’s Book Blog

Tuesday, March 16th: The Tome Traveller

Wednesday, March 17th: Educating Petunia

Thursday, March 18th: English Major’s Junk Food

Monday, March 22nd: A Few More Pages

Tuesday, March 23rd: Devourer of Books

Wednesday, March 24th: Wordsmithonia

Thursday, March 25th: A Bookshelf Monstrosity

Monday, March 29th: Katie’s Nesting Spot

Tuesday, March 30th: Dolce Bellezza

Wednesday, March 31st: Raging Bibliomania

Friday, April 2nd: Thoughts From an Evil Overlord

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14 comments to The Creation of Eve – Book Review

  • This book caught my eye awhile ago. I am on the fence as to whether I should read it or not.

  • Other people have said they couldn’t put the book down towards the end, either!

    Thanks for being on this tour!

  • Lynn Cullen

    Thanks so much for taking the time to review my book and for being part of the tour. The reviews have made for some interesting reading!

  • I’m still not sure what I thought of this one, thanks for the honest review.

  • I’m just beginning to work my way through the reviews for this blog tour. I’m interested in reading this and appreciate your honest assessment. I’ll keep your remarks in mind when I eventually get the chance to read it!

  • I thought this was all about the woman painter – that’s who I’d want to read about.

  • That’s what happened to me too. I found it kind of slow in the beginning and then it somewhere along the line took off and I found myself not wanting to put the book down.

  • Oh, this looks like a good one – it’s going on my to-read list.

  • Amy

    Not a lot happens in this book, very little painting takes place and the books is about a painter. But, I have to say, I really liked it. I had trouble putting it down at the end too.

  • Even a great ending can’t always save a book. When you’ve struggled through, it’s hard to overcome that.

  • I’ve been hearing a lot about this book lately, though I can’t say why it really hasn’t appealed to me. After reading your review, I’m glad I didn’t accept if for review.

  • I agree, I definitely wanted more about the painting and less about the court intrigue. However, I think Cullen makes a good point in that, for that portion of Anguissola’s life, at least, she was primarily defined as a lady in waiting rather than a painter. So, while Cullen could have chosen a different time period on which to focus her story, I think she did a good job of bringing the time she chose to life… even if the narrator was more of a framing device rather than a main character in her own right.

  • This book certainly caught my attention as the story line does sound extremely interesting. Still, I understand your qualms about the book. Sometimes historical fiction can get too caught up in the historical aspects and lose sight of the story at hand. And for me its always the story and the characters that make a book memorable.

  • I’m on the fence here — I really was hoping it would be more about a woman painter and all things associated with that.