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Library JournalSpain, early 17th century. The Inquisition is at its peak, and the arrival of the Renaissance has flared tensions between the country’s Catholic and artistic communities. Here the story takes root, with favored court painter Diego Vel?zquez pursuing his greatest work yet: a female nude, a Venus—the ultimate artistic triumph, albeit an illegal one, for a man who seeks to perfect his talent and make his mark. But as a member of the politically turbulent court of King Philip IV, the artist finds that avoiding detection will be difficult—with animosity high and the rumor mill in overdrive, choosing a woman to play his Venus may be the very cause of his downfall.
Verdict Mujica’s third historical novel (after Sister Teresa and Frida) is a well-plotted read with engaging characters and rich detail. Fans of Tracy Chevalier and Elizabeth Kostova as well as art history buffs will enjoy Mujica’s interpretation.—Leigh Wright, Bridgewater, NJ
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