I Am Rembrandt's Daughter

I Am Rembrandt's Daughter

4.0 30
by Lynn Cullen
     
 

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With her mother dead of the plague and her brother newly married, Cornelia van Rijn finds herself without a friend or confidante--except her difficult father. Out of favor with Amsterdam's elite, the once revered Rembrandt van Rijn is now teetering on the brink of madness. Cornelia alone must care for him, though she is haunted by secrets and scandal of her own.

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Overview

With her mother dead of the plague and her brother newly married, Cornelia van Rijn finds herself without a friend or confidante--except her difficult father. Out of favor with Amsterdam's elite, the once revered Rembrandt van Rijn is now teetering on the brink of madness. Cornelia alone must care for him, though she is haunted by secrets and scandal of her own. Her only happiness comes in a growing romance with Carel, the son of a wealthy shipping magnate, whose passion for art stirs her. And then there is Neel, her father's last remaining pupil, a darkly brooding young man whose steadfast devotion to Rembrandt both baffles and touches her.

Based on real characters and filled with family dramas and a love triangle that would make Jane Austen proud, I Am Rembrandt's Daughter is a powerful account of a young woman's struggle to come of age within the shadow of one of the world's most brilliant and complicated artists.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This sensitively sketched first novel paints a compelling portrait of 14-year-old narrator Cornelia and her conflicted relationship with her father, the famous painter Rembrandt. Cullen ably conjures the anxiety and loneliness of Cornelia's position once her beloved older brother marries and leaves her to care for her uncompromising, half-mad father, whose eccentricities (including a belief that God tells him what to paint) bar them from polite society and whose avant-garde painting style and unpredictable temperament keep patrons away and relegate them to near poverty ("The man's nerve is only exceeded by his madness," a frustrated Cornelia vents). The highly atmospheric Dutch setting along the canals and constant threat of contagion from plague outbreaks heighten the tension, but a romantic triangle between Cornelia, her suitor Carel (an apprentice and heir to a shipping fortune) and her father's student Neel provides most of the drama here. Somewhat uneven chapters centered around the paintings focus on the circumstances surrounding the creation of individual works and point toward a secret involving Cornelia's deceased mother and why Rembrandt never married her. Readers may wish that the buildup to Cornelia's own artistic impulses yielded more, but they will cheer for this colorful cast, especially the likable heroine and the understanding and peace she crafts with her father. Ages 12-up. (June)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
VOYA - Cynthia L. Winfield
Teenaged Cornelia, bastard daughter to the deranged yet lauded painter Rembrandt and his late housemaid, tells of living with her aging vader in poverty on Amsterdam's fringes. Cornelia interweaves childhood memories-each corresponding to an actual painting-of a happier time when her moeder lived. A coral necklace, thrown at her by the grief-stricken Rembrandt before her moeder's Plague-ridden corpse is hauled away, serves as Cornelia's talisman, her one link with moneyed classes and her mother. Lonely in her father's hovel after her brother Titus moves in with his rich wife, Magdalena, Cornelia tends to Rembrandt's whims, suffers his somber student Neel, and yearns to be noticed by this painter whose palsied hands prevent him from shaving yet act flawlessly when Rembrandt van Rijn serves as a conduit between God and canvas. A zealous reader, Cornelia shelters books from her father's disapproval; that she has absorbed his entire art history library escapes him, as do her artist's vision and desire. Impressed by Cornelia's substance, her new acquaintance, young Carel, is smitten, but Rembrandt forbids the friendship. Historical fiction, mystery, and romance are masterfully woven, and Cornelia's tale unfolds along the banks of Amsterdam's famous canals, enchanting readers to remain for just another chapter, and then more. Dutch names might slow some readers, but Cullen's rich detail so revives history as to mesmerize most. From seventeenth-century social mores to the timeless thrill of falling in love, Cullen's novel is a reader's delight.
Kirkus Reviews
Told in the first person, the tale of Cornelia is achingly familiar: She's a girl child in her mid-teens, angry, passionate, hungry both literally and figuratively and ignored by her distracted but brilliant parent, the great painter Rembrandt. He is a pathetic figure here: listening to the voice of God in his head; making images with thick impasto paint; no longer desirable to his patrons; and ignoring the needs of daily life while Cornelia struggles to meet them. She loves her brother Titus, adored of Rembrandt, but he marries and leaves her alone to care for vader. Cullen uses a few Dutch words for 17th-century atmosphere, but Cornelia's bitterness and longing seem very contemporary. The narrative slips back and forth between past (the death of Cornelia's mother, whom Rembrandt never married) and present, when Cornelia is to leave Amsterdam with her new husband. Cullen uses several of Rembrandt's paintings in effective ways to tether the story, even though her fictional climax has no historical basis. (author's note, character list, list of paintings) (Historical fiction. 12+)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781599902944
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
10/28/2008
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
371,239
Product dimensions:
8.28(w) x 5.36(h) x 0.83(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

LYNN CULLEN is the author of several novels and picture books, including Moi and Marie Antoinette. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

www.lynncullen.com

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