Written by Gary Inbinder
Published by Fireship Press
Review by Jessica Garamondi
In Italy in the 1870s, Marcia Brownlow masquerades as a man to find success in the art world. She adopts the persona of her dead brother, Mark, and becomes the protégée of Arthur Wolcott, a famous American expatriate author who discovers Marcia’s artistic talent. Wolcott introduces his protégée to wealthy art patrons, including three women who, deceived as to Marcia’s sex, fall in love with the captivating artist. As Marcia develops her skills, James Whistler, John Singer Sargent, and Sir Frederic Leighton, the leader of the London art establishment, praise her paintings of Florence and Venice. However, on the eve of her greatest artistic triumph, Marcia’s first love returns to threaten her with exposure and scandal.
As an art lover who studied art history in college, I enjoyed reading Gary Inbinder’s book The Flower to the Painter. I love the parade of famous artists such as Whistler, Singer Sargent, and Renoir, and I loved learning about the art world during this time, especially how the artists had to flatter their patrons, which may not be so different today. Keep in mind that as a reader, you need to buy into the idea of a woman passing successfully as a man or else you will not be able to lose yourself in the story. And as Marcia struggles to make her way in the world, she is not always the most compassionate character, which only serves to make her more realistic.
This book is recommended for art fans and for anyone who wants to look at the art world from a woman’s point of view.
Jessica Garamondi is an art lover and a stay at home mother of two toddlers. She is currently writing her first historical novel set around the French Revolution. She lives in Los Angeles, California.