Good morning my loves!
I hope you’ve all had a lovely weekend – I know I have! I’ve taken a little break from social media because I’m aware that it can sometimes get toxic and I know that can have a particularly negative impact on my mental health.
What I have been doing though is reading this *spoiler* exceptional book, The Optickal Illusion by Rachel Halliburton.
* Thank you to Duckworth Books for sending me a gifted copy of this book in return for an honest review.
Title: The Optickal Illusion
Author: Rachel Halliburton
Publication date: 2nd May 2019
My rating: ★★★★★
Goodreads rating: 3.49
Genre: Adult, historical fiction
Synopsis: In this vividly fashioned debut, Rachel Halliburton draws from the sordid details of a genuine scandal that deceived the British Royal Academy to deliver a stirring tale on the elusive goal of achieving artistic renown.
It is 1797 and in Georgian London, nothing is certain anymore: the future of the monarchy is in question, the city is aflame with conspiracies, and the French could invade any day. Amidst this feverish atmosphere, the American painter Benjamin West is visited by a dubious duo comprised of a blundering father and vibrant daughter, the Provises, who claim they have a secret that has obsessed painters for centuries: the Venetian techniques of master painter Titian.
West was once the most celebrated painter in London, but he hasn’t produced anything of note in years, so against his better judgment he agrees to let the intriguing Ann Jemima Provis visit his studio and demonstrate the techniques from the document. What unravels reveals more than West has ever understood—about himself, the treachery of the art world, and the seductive promise of greatness. Rich in period detail of a meticulously crafted Georgian society, The Optickal Illusion demonstrates the lengths women must go to make their mark on a society that seeks to underplay their abilities.
Overall opinion of the book:
Okay, I was pretty much sold as soon as the email landed in my inbox about this one. It’s premise contains almost all of the things that I love to see in historical fiction; art, scandal, strong (if morally grey) female protagonists, secrets, obsession and so so much more.
Based on the true like sordid scandal that rocked the British Royal Academy in Georgian England, Halliburton’s book is a gift for those of us drawn to darkly deceptive women who are prepared to do anything to get what they want.
Met the Provises, a man and his daughter who inherit the priceless manuscript written by one of Italy’s most famous painter, Titian. The pair decide to sell the manuscript to Benjamin West, President of the academy. But is what Ann Jemima and her selling the real deal?
I bloody loved this book. I really did. The characters were brilliant, the settling fully formed and the premise perfectly plotted. While set a little earlier than my preferable historical fiction, The Optickal Illusion has definitely inspired me to read more set in that era. Needless to say, I will be picking up anything Rachel Halliburton publishes in the future!
Peace and pages