{Leah Reviews} Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

Posted April 23, 2018 by Leah in Reviews / 2 Comments

{Leah Reviews} Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough

Blood Water Paint

by Joy McCullough
Pages: 298
Published on March 6, 2018
by Dutton Books for Young Readers
Genres: Historical Fiction, Young Adult
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

A debut novel based on the true story of the iconic painter, Artemisia Gentileschi.

Her mother died when she was twelve, and suddenly Artemisia Gentileschi had a stark choice: a life as a nun in a convent or a life grinding pigment for her father's paint.

She chose paint.

By the time she was seventeen, Artemisia did more than grind pigment. She was one of Rome's most talented painters, even if no one knew her name. But Rome in 1610 was a city where men took what they wanted from women, and in the aftermath of rape Artemisia faced another terrible choice: a life of silence or a life of truth, no matter the cost.

He will not consumemy every thought.I am a painter.I will paint.

I will show youwhat a woman can do.

4 Stars

Novels in verse continue to surprise me. I’ve come to realize that there’s a lot to like about this storytelling method. Blood Water Paint is historical verse about painter Artemesia Gentilecshi. It’s not an easy read (which unfortunately might steer a lot of potential readers away). Artemesia suffers at the hands of a mentor in Renaissance Italy, a time when women were seen as second class, but she’ll fight fate itself for justice. Even though this is historical, its themes are timely.

McCullough uses her words to create a haunting, feminist story. I read this slowly to fully appreciate the word choice. Artemesia is under the constraining thumb of her station: painting under her father’s name, overlooked and brushed off as “just a girl.” You share her anger and frustration. You feel her grief. This is a girl who commands to be seen and heard. She stayed with me for weeks after I finished the book.

Interspersed with Artemesia’s narration are the stories of Judith and Susanna, women from the Bible who defied the people around them. Artemesia’s connection to the two women was given to her by her mother before she died. It is what motivates her paint. It also gives her the strength to take her rapist to trial. Their entwined stories are moving and sad, but also supportive and healing. Artemesia’s trial puts her under circumstances meant to break her. She’s tortured and humiliated. And she perseveres. In the wake of the #metoo movement, Blood Water Paint is necessary.

As I mentioned before, some potential readers might be weary, but I hope the book finds an audience. Whatever Joy McCullough writes about next, I’m definitely reading it.

I hadn’t heard of Artemesia before I read Blood Water Paint. I’ve since looked up her work. It’s incredible.



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