The Creation of Eve

( 35 )

Overview

"Enormously satisfying...I'm grateful to Cullen for the pleasures of such a splendid read." -Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants.

In 1559, a young woman painter flees a scandal involving one of Michelangelo's students, and is taken to the Spanish court, where she becomes the young queen's confidante and lady-in-waiting. Through her keenly trained eye, readers watch a love triangle unfold involving the queen, the king, and his half brother-a ...

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The Creation of Eve

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Overview

"Enormously satisfying...I'm grateful to Cullen for the pleasures of such a splendid read." -Sara Gruen, New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants.

In 1559, a young woman painter flees a scandal involving one of Michelangelo's students, and is taken to the Spanish court, where she becomes the young queen's confidante and lady-in-waiting. Through her keenly trained eye, readers watch a love triangle unfold involving the queen, the king, and his half brother-a dangerous gamble that risks the lives of the queen and all those who keep her secrets.

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Editorial Reviews

Eugenia Zukerman
…an intoxicating tale of love, betrayal and redemption…Cullen tackles the contradictions of the Renaissance and captures the dangerous spirit of the Inquisition while handling these vivid characters with prodigious control. The Creation of Eve is a historical romance that teaches as it touches.
—The Washington Post
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Cullen's previous books include "I Am Rembrandt's Daughter" and "Moi and Marie Antoinette." With this suspenseful, evocative tapestry of Renaissance life, art and royal skullduggery, the author has made a skillful --- and, with any luck, permanent --- jump into adult fiction.
Atlanta Magazine
Lynn Cullen weaves a glittering tapestry in The Creation of Eve, blending themes of art, gender and politics into a provocative novel that feels surprisingly timely.
Library Journal
The year is 1560; Elizabeth of Valois (1544–68) has just become the third wife of King Felipe of Spain, and the talented female painter Sofonisba Anguissola (1532–1625) has been appointed art instructor to the young queen. In a court filled with all manner of politics, from religious debate to petty jealousies and forbidden love affairs, these two conflicted and often unhappy young women find in each other a much-needed friend and companion. Through the eyes of Sofi, Cullen captivates her readers with the thrill and drama of 16th-century Spain. Hewing closely to historical record, the author fills in enough spaces to make a satisfying story but strategically leaves certain details to the imagination, a trick that has the reader deliciously wishing for just a little bit more. VERDICT Marking a strong adult historical fiction debut for YA author Cullen (I Am Rembrandt's Daughter), this is a good choice for fans of Tracy Chevalier, Sarah Dunant, or Elizabeth Kostova's The Swan Thieves. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 11/1/09; highlighted in AAP's Librarians' Spring 2010 Sneak Preview.]—Leigh Wright, Bridgewater, NJ
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425238707
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 2/1/2011
  • Pages: 480
  • Sales rank: 245,908
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Lynn Cullen is the author of the young adult novel The Creation of Eve, as many acclaimed books for children. She lives with her husband in Atlanta, where she is at work on her next novel.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 35 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(18)

4 Star

(8)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(0)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 35 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 9, 2010

    Really enjoyed this book. Hard to believe this is Cullen's first "adult" book, but looking forward to the next one(s)!

    There's something about historical fiction that really allows for fascinating character development; not limited to popular conventional wisdom. The story is real, but the author has the freedom to explore controversial events and persona. The Creation of Eve (CE) was just that sort of captivating book. We have traveled various parts of Europe on family vacations with the typical American fascination with the whole concept of kings, queens and other historical persons. CE fed that intrigue as well as giving us another historical example of a women finding her way through a male dominated society.

    This is not a book I would typically have picked up, but after seeing Sara Gruen's complementary comments I tracked down an advanced copy, and uncharacteristically read the entire book in just a couple of sittings. The character development is really well done, and suspect it's only a matter of time until we see it in movie form(..can Julia Roberts paint?).

    The use of Sofonisba's journal was a creative way to account for the long time span, and reinforcing a believability of the character and events. I look forward to our next vacation in Spain...reading The Creation of Eve has aroused my curiosity for the history, its peoples and places.

    I really appreciated Cullen's "Author's Notes!" What a nice way to fill us in on the history and ongoing debates that she and other historians carry on even to this day.

    I might also suggest a family tree, of the characters, be included as an appendix for keeping track of half brother, step son's, etc for those of us that are somewhat memory challenged.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 26, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    If you enjoy historical fiction, you will enjoy this

    I've seen Michelangelo's work, but didn't know much about him personally. I had never heard of Sofonisba Anguissola, so I thought this would be an interesting read and it was. I just finished CW Gortner's "Confessions Of Catherine de Medici" and I didn't realize that this book was about Catherine's daughter, Elisabeth after she weds King Philip and joins the Spanish court. Sofonisba, joins this court as Elisabeth's paint tudor. It was a good follow up to "Confessions". I enjoy authors who bring less famous people to light. She did her homework on this one. After reading, I of course had to google and see Sofi's work. The author was right on. It's interesting how different authors bring the same character to a different light. In "Confessions" Elisabeth came off as a lady who couldn't think for herself. In this book, I felt like I was reading about Henry Tudor's 5th wife, the immature "Katharine Howard." This wasn't a page turner, but I enjoyed this book. Now I am ready to make a trip to the Getty Museum, to see some 16th century art work.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 31, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A Truly Excellent Read - a Journey into the Hearts and Minds of 16th Century Notables

    Lynn Cullen shows a great depth of research and creativity combined in presenting her story of an inflammable historical period of the 16th Century as witnessed through the eyes of the first noted female artist Sofonisba Anguissola, an Italian painter who studied briefly under Michelangelo before being summoned to service in the Spanish court. Realism and poignant intimacy are achieved through the first-person journal entries, in which the entire book is comprised, of the young artist as she who is herself caught up in the allures of the human heart while witnessing those of the people she serves. This is a compelling story and is remarkable in its detail, most realistically and assuredly achieved through the eyes of a very talented and soulful artist. I did not read anything about this book or its author before jumping into it as I did not want to set up any premises, my intention solely being to be enwrapped in an enthralling story, and it was only at the end that I saw how Ms. Cullen's credible research had been so disarmingly and truthfully portrayed. The cover and title first attracted me, and Sara Gruen's testimonial secured my interest.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 10, 2010

    Sixteenth Century Characters Tangibly Tantalizing in "Creation of Eve"

    How could anyone resist a book that invites them into its pages with the first line, "In the time it takes to pluck a hen, I have ruined myself?" Certainly not me. And once into the deliciously animated story of Sophonisba Anguissola, I was completely engrossed. Sophi was an accomplished Renaissance painter who seemed to be accidentally born during a time when it was considered an anomaly for women to be anything but nuns or wives. Discovering how she evolved from a simple Italian girl to becoming a member of the Spanish court was only part of the allure. The descriptions of the thought processes around her painting, her interactions with her mentor, Michelangelo, and as companion to the young queen of Spain make it easy to forget that the author wasn't actually there interviewing each of the multidimensional characters that come to life in the pages of the book. If when I finish a book, I don't want to let the characters go and want to delve into more of the facts of their lives, I know it's a great book. When I finished this book, and sadly had no more pages to turn, I did just that.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Best Book I've Read In Years!!

    This is just the book I've been waiting for! Written from the viewpiont of painter Sofonisba Anguissola, in the Spanish court of Phillip II, this book weaves a compelling story of romance, loyalty, passion, and betrayal. Cullen pays painstaking attention to detail and historical accuracy to paint a vivid picture of life in the Spanish court - the scenes played out just like a movie in my head! It was the perfect escape during my four month old's naptime.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2011

    All-time favorite!

    Who is Lynn Cullen? I want more!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 13, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Good Historical Fiction

    Sofonisba Anguissola was that rarity in the Renaissance - a female painter who had studied with Michaelangelo. Many of her paintings survive today - her portraits are exceptional. Though she lived to age 93, this novel covers the few years in her life that she was a lady-in-waiting in the Spanish court of Philip II. During this period "Sofi" gets caught in the middle of a turbulent relationship between the young Queen Elisabeth and the King's brother Juan. Mostly poor Sofi just wants to paint, but her opportunities are limited by the stifling environment of the court. Author Lynn Cullen lacks the you-are-there descriptive powers of Karleen Koen (Dark Angels, Before Versailles) and her chapters are long on dialogue, much of it on the mundane side. Still, her portrayal of the perils of the Spanish court at the time of the Inquisition is excellent. And the book made me want to learn more about Sofonisba Anguissola.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    UNFORGETTABLE AND RICHLY ATMOSPHERIC

    There is little reading more intriguing than well done historical fiction. Lynn Cullen raises this genre to new heights with her intriguing, richly visualized THE CREATION OF EVE. Based on the life of the first woman painter to achieve any degree of recognition during the Renaissance, Sofonisba Anguissola, the author transports us to the 16th century courts of Spain and France, each alive with rankling jealousies, harbored dreams, and clever machinations.

    As a child of 7 Sofonisba was inspired by a picture of the Madonna and Child in a local church. Borrowing her printer father's quill and paper she drew her own picture. He was so impressed by her talent that he ignored the disdainful laughter of their Cremona neighbors, "A girl taking up a man's craft, and such a dirty one at that. Who is going to marry her now?" In time he chose some of her work and sent it to the Maestro, Michelangelo, who invited her to come to Rome to study. An impossibility for a girl in that day and time, yet it happened to Sofonisba who would become a portraitist because women were not allowed o study "from the nude or from the dissection of a cadaver."

    At Michelangelo's studio she met and fell in love with a young sculptor, Tiberio Calcagni. There is a brief moment of coupling, which Sofi fears might ruin not only herself but Tiberio and bring shame to her beloved father. So, when she is invited by the mightiest of rulers, King Philip II of Spain, to teach his 13-year-old wife, Queen Elisabeth, painting and serve as her lady-in-waiting Sofi does not hesitate.

    Yet, she is ill prepared for what she finds in the grand palaces of Toledo, Madrid, and Segovia - the animus of the King's sister and a fault-finding condessa who would like nothing better than to see the Queen lose favor. Elisabeth, the daughter of King Henri II of France and Catherine de Medici, is a beauty but rash, and at her then tender age unable to bear children for the King. Philip, a widower and much older than his Queen, wants her total devotion. Add to this mix Don Juan, the king's handsome younger brother, and Don Carlos, his frail, mentally deficient son, both of whom covet Elisabeth.

    Thus, while strife abounds at court there are tensions without - in Rome Michelangelo is being investigated by the Inquisition of the Catholic Church for the supposed immorality of his paintings in the Sistine Chapel and his rumored homosexuality. (The Grand Inquisitor's punishments are horrific). Plus, the Protestant Reformation is feared by both Philip and Catherine of France who seeks to wed another daughter to Don Carlos in hopes of even stronger ties between their two countries.

    In the midst of all of this Sofi longs for word from Tiberio, attempts to ameliorate the King's sister and the condessa, and keep an ever watchful eye on Elizabeth whom she fears may act impetuously.

    With THE CREATION OF EVE Cullen has used history and prodigious research to craft an unforgettable epic, totally absorbing, richly atmospheric. She sensitively portrays the status of women at that time, realistically paints the staggering wealth enjoyed by some as opposed to the deprivation of many, while telling a fascinating story. Somehow Cullen allows us to move in the same circles as Sofi, enjoying feast days , moving among the greats of the art world - Michelangelo, DaVinci, trembling at the thought of the Inquisition, and seeing the onset of the Reformation. An unforgettable pleasure!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 22, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A superb historical fiction tale

    In 1560 sixteen years old Elizabeth of Valois becomes the third wife of King Felipe of Spain. She was a student of Michelangelo and her being a woman; so King Felipe selects female artist Sofonisba "Sofi" Anguissola to mentor the new queen on painting. Both feel isolated in the backstabbing royal court where squabble is the norm and affairs persistent. The painter and the royal forge a friendship that goes way beyond teacher and pupil as each realizes they can rely on the other to have their back.

    Told mostly through the perspective of the renaissance artist, The Creation of Eve is a superb historical fiction that reads more like an autobiography of the sixteenth century artist. The Spanish court of King Felipe is a deathtrap for the naive as the queen and the painter quickly learn. That insidious atmosphere of two outsiders is a prime impetus for each to turn to one another in friendship. From the First Notebook entry in 1559, this fine tale contains a strong eye on the era that sub-genre readers will relish The Creation of Eve.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2013

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    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 29, 2010

    The Creation of Eve

    A beautifully written story about a female artist, Sofonisba Anguissola in the mid 1500 when women were not respected much at all, especially for their talent. At that time, a woman was not allowed to paint the naked body. Her amazing artistic talent offers her a chance to study with the great Michelangelo in Rome. After her return back to her home town in Italy, she is invited by the King of Spain to be a lady in waiting for his young bride. Sofi gladly accepts this great honor but learns soon enough that life is not so easy being a queen.

    After reading the book, I did some research about Sofonisba and other characters in the story and discovered that the true story is very close to it.

    I really enjoyed the book but wished there was a little more story.

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  • Posted May 13, 2010

    Astonishingly good, gorgeous historical novel!

    I loved this novel! I read all the historical fiction I can - Philippa Gregory, Sarah Dunant, Tracy Chevalier, and this is on a par with the best of those authors' works. It's also a subject that I found fascinating -an Italian Renaissance painter in the Spanish court. I highly recommend this for anyone who reads those other authors. Lynn Cullen is terrific - a great find. You won't be disappointed.

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  • Posted May 12, 2010

    Addicting historical novel...

    I love historical fiction and this novel is one of the greatest. Think in the same vein as Phillipa Gregory or Allison Weir. I'm not yet through the book, though only a few chapters left, and I do not want it to end. Hope to hear more from this author in this fashion!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2010

    THE BEST HISTORICAL FICTION I HAVE READ IN A VERY LONG TIME!!!

    It simply amazes me that this is a debut novel!!! It is a capitavating story, the characters are rich and the story never stops holding your attention. ONE GORGEOUS READ!!! DO not miss out on this book. Its a curl up and get compfy book, so make sure you have time to read it all in a couple of sittings. JUST BEAUTIFUL!!!

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  • Posted January 27, 2010

    Excellent historical fiction!

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Creation of Eve. In fact, I could not put it down and finished it in one sitting on Sunday afternoon. I love historical fiction. I have read fiction and non-fiction works about the Renaissance and Michelangelo and I found the story of Sofonisba Anguissola to be fascinating (never mind the royal intrigue!).

    Lynn Cullen's writing was perfect. Her characters were so vivid and her descriptions of the times and places were wonderful. I felt like I was part of the story. I especially appreciated her ability to weave fact and fiction; and I am anxious to read more about this period as well as to find more information about Sofonisba.

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  • Posted January 20, 2010

    Wow - historical fiction at its best!

    I loved this book. A friend who knows I love historical fiction gave me an advance copy. I couldn't put it down. I'd never heard of this extraordinary Renaissance painter, Sofonisba, and was totally absorbed in this story about her life in Italy with Michaelangelo and then her friendship with the Queen of Spain. There are appealing male characters, too, especially the King of Spain, who turns out to really surprise the reader. I wholeheartedly recommend THE CREATION OF EVE to anyone who loves historical fiction, a romantic story, and fascinating true stories (the author based a lot of the story on meticulous research!).

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    Posted February 8, 2013

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    Posted December 7, 2011

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    Posted April 16, 2010

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    Posted February 11, 2013

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 35 Customer Reviews

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