The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola

Hello Today is my stop The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola – the most famous woman you’ve never heard of by Melissa Muldoon


Book Title: The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola – the most famous woman you’ve never heard of by Melissa Muldoon
Category Adult Fiction (18+), 345 pages
Genre Historical Fiction, General Fiction
Publisher Matta Press
Release date December 2020
Content Rating: PG-13 + M. includes mature themes (suicide, adultery, sexual relations, murder)

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Set in the sixteenth-century, The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola tells the story of a woman’s passion for painting and adventure. In a world where women painters had little to no acknowledgment, she was singled out by Michelangelo and Vasari who recognized and praised her talent. Gaining the Milanese elite’s acclaim, she went on to become court painter to Spanish King Philip II and taught his queen to paint.

One can’t live such an extraordinary life without having stories to tell, and tell them Sofonisba does to Sir Anthony Van Dyke, who comes to visit her toward the end of her life. During their meeting, she agrees to reveal her secrets but first challenges the younger painter to find the one lie hidden in her tale. In a saga filled with intrigue, jealousy, buried treasure, unrequited love, espionage, and murder, Sofonisba’s story is played out against the backdrop of Italy, Spain, and Sicily. Throughout her life, she encounters talented artists, authoritative dukes, mad princes, religious kings, spying queens, vivacious viscounts, and dashing sea captains—even a Barbary pirate. But of all the people who fell in love with Sofonisba, only one captured her heart. The painter may have many secrets but the truth of her life is crystal clear from the beginning.

Always a strong, passionate woman with a dream, she was an intelligent artist who knew her self-worth and in the end, as Michelangelo had done for her, Sofonisba passed her brush to a new generation.

Join the rest of this tour stops from Feb 1 to Feb 26, 2021. The Tour Schedule is at the bottom of this post

Print copy of THE SECRET LIFE OF SOFONISBA ANGUISSOLA plus 1 audiobook (USA only) (3 winners))(ends Mar 5)

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This book was received from the Author, and Publisher, in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own.

This is a non spoiler review, because you as reader need to read this book. Also, I feel sometimes I have in the past gave away to much of the plot line. This has diminished the pleasure for would be readers.


Melissa Muldoon has delightful collection of lovely works featuring prominent female artists from Italian history. Her newest installment The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola is my favorite so far.Through Melissa Muldoon’s meticulously extensive research, Sofonisba Anguissola beautiful tale comes life. The book opens up with tale within a tale, setting the storyline up perfectly allowing the reader to follow along as unfolding of this talented artists life happens.Sofonisba was born during a time when women were not encouraged to paint, and could only express themselves in limited ways. Her father, Amilcare Anguissola, raised ambitious and progressive daughters. She was given an unheard of artistic education for a young girl. Born to a family of nobility on both sides.

Her father saw her talent very early on and allowed her gifted abilities to take off. Seeking formal education in all things for his daughters Amilcare, Sofonisba also enables her to be apprenticeship with a local artists at his studio. In a world where only men dominated, the highly sought after painting positions.

Young Sofia not only excels but rises above her peers and teacher.

This an brilliantly executed novel, with some of the most powerful atmospheric imagery I have yet to read. The rich, late renaissance, sixteen century details are phenomenal, from the food to wine. The period and its lush scenes will have you fully immersed within lovely pages. The book is definitely a character driven historical fiction. You will be front and center as sights and sounds, of Sofonisba rich tapestry of life starts with her family at their home in Cremona. Her illustrious life she journeys to Rome where she receives artistic guidance from one the most talented of masters, Michelangelo. She travels to Madrid and the Spanish court, and onto Sicily

There is intrigue, romance and even murder.

The is something so special about Melissa’s writing with its precision fluid prose. She has way of drawing you in a very clever way. Giving you tantalizing pits of historical facts with her creative twists. Her three dimensional characters are well developed and made for an incredible reading experience.

The author gives the reader some special careful historical notes at the end of the book which I found rewarding.

I want to thank the author for writing this superb novel. A book to be treasured in my ever growing library and reread from time to time.


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Meet the Author:

Through her website, she also offers the opportunities to live and study in Italy through Homestay programs. Melissa has a B.A. in fine arts, art history, and European history from Knox College, a liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, as well as a master’s degree in art history from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She has also studied painting and art history in Florence. She is an artist, designer, and illustrated the cover art for all four of her books. Melissa is the managing director of Matta Press

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