Eternally Artemisia - (#3) - Melissa Muldoon
Some loves, like some women, are timeless.
Book Synopsis: They say some loves travel through time and are fated to meet over and over again. For Maddie, an art therapist, who wrestles with the “peculiar feeling” she has lived previous lives and is being called to Italy by voices that have left imprints on her soul, this idea is intriguing. Despite her best efforts, however, proof of this has always eluded her. That is, until one illuminating summer in Italy when Maddie’s previous existences start to bleed through into her current reality. When she is introduced to the Crociani family—a noble clan with ties to the seventeenth-century Medici court that boasts of ancestors with colorful pasts—she finally meets the loves of her life. One is a romantic love, and another is a special kind of passion that only women share, strong amongst those who have suffered greatly yet have triumphed despite it. As Maddie's relationship develops with Artemisia Gentileschi—an artist who in a time when it was unheard of to denounce a man for the crime of rape, did just that—Maddie discovers a kindred spirit and a role model, and just what women are capable of when united together. In a journey that arcs back to biblical days and moves forward in time, Maddie encounters artists, dukes, designers, and movie stars as well as baser and ignoble men. With Artemisia never far from her side, she proves that when we dare to take control of our lives and find the “thing” we are most passionate about, we are limitless and can touch the stars.
A Little Bit About The Author: Melissa Muldoon -
Melissa Muldoon is the author of three novels set in Italy: “Dreaming Sophia,” “Waking Isabella,” and “Eternally Artemisia.” All three books tell the stories of American women and their journeys of self-discovery to find love, uncover hidden truths, and follow their destinies to shape a better future in Italy. Melissa is also the author of the Studentessa Matta website, where she promotes the study of Italian language and culture through her dual-language blog written in Italian and English (studentessamatta.com). Studentessa Matta means the “crazy linguist” and has grown to include a podcast, Tutti Matti per l'Italiano and the Studentessa Matta YouTube channel, Facebook page and Instagram feed. Melissa also created Matta Italian Language Immersion Programs, which she co-leads with Italian schools in Italy to learn Italian in Italy. Through her website, she also offers the opportunities to live and study in Italy through Homestay programs. Melissa has a B.A. in fine arts, art history and European history from Knox College, a liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, as well as a master's degree in art history from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She has also studied painting and art history in Florence. She is an artist, designer, and illustrated the cover art for all three of her books. Melissa is also the managing director of Matta Press. As a student, Melissa lived in Florence with an Italian family. She studied art history and painting and took beginner Italian classes. When she returned home, she threw away her Italian dictionary, assuming she’d never need it again, but after launching a successful design career and starting a family, she realized something was missing in her life. That “thing” was the connection she had made with Italy and the friends who live there. Living in Florence was indeed a life-changing event. Wanting to reconnect with Italy, she decided to start learning the language again from scratch. As if indeed possessed by an Italian muse, she bought a new Italian dictionary and began her journey to fluency—a path that has led her back to Italy many times and enriched her life in countless ways. Now, many dictionaries and grammar books later, she dedicates her time to promoting Italian language studies, further travels in Italy, and sharing her stories and insights about Italy with others. Melissa designed and illustrated the cover art for Eternally Artemisia, Waking Isabella, and Dreaming Sophia. She also curates the Dreaming Sophia Art History blog site and Pinterest site: The Art of Loving Italy, where you will find companion pictures for all three books. Visit MelissaMuldoon.com for more information about immersion trips to learn the language with Melissa in Italy, as well as the Studentessa Matta blog for practice and tips to learn the Italian language.
Connect with Melissa Muldoon!
Author Website: www.MelissaMuldoon.com
Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/MelissaMuldoonAuthor/
Melissa Muldoon’s Dual Language Italian Blog: https://www.StudentessaMatta.com
Studentessa Matta Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/studentessamatta
Dreaming Sophia Art History Blog site: https://dreamingsophiabook.com/
Dreaming Sophia Art History Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DreamingSophia/
Pinterest Book Site—Art of Loving Italy: https://www.pinterest.com/dreamingsophia/
Author Interview with author of Eternally Artemisia, Melissa Muldoon
1) What Inspired you to write this story?
Like my protagonist Maddie, in my new novel “Eternally Artemisia,” from the first day I was introduced to Artemisia in a darkened lecture hall in college, I have been fascinated and intrigued by this seventeenth-century artist’s story. Raped by her painting instructor at the age of 16, Artemisia took Agostino Tassi to court, but not for the crime of molestation, but because he stole a picture from her and he reneged on his promise to marry her after he violated her. In a time when it was unheard of for a woman to accuse her rapist publically, she did, but in the end, she suffered great indignities and torture to prove that she was the one telling the truth. In the end, she won her case, but her life was in tatters. Her rapist, however, never spent a day in jail. While this experience, especially at such a young and vulnerable age, might have devastated most people, Artemisia had the spirit and the talent to pick herself up from the ashes, re-invent herself. She went on to become the protegee of Cosimo II de Medici in Florence, friend to Galileo and painted for Dukes and Kings all over Europe and England.
Artemisia used her art to heal herself, throwing herself passionately into her work, even painting images of herself and her rapist in her biblical scenes to work through the myriad of emotions such violence causes a woman. Artemisia was also very astute, and despite being illiterate and living on a shoe-string budget, married off to a philandering man by her father to save her reputation, Artemisia succeeded in a male-dominated society in Florence to become a notable painter. The Grand Duke of Tuscany regarded her so highly he admitted her into the elite previously all-male Florentine Art Academy. She was the first woman to shatter the glass ceiling of the art world in her day and age.To me, Artemisia’s story is one that shouldn’t be forgotten and is relevant today. When we find what we are most passionate about, and we are determined and believe in ourselves, there is nothing we can’t accomplish.
2) How do you do research for your books?
I begin by finding an art theme or a heroine from history that piques my interest, and then I start reading everything I can about this historical figure and their period. I let myself wander through libraries and the internet researching interesting and obscure facts, piecing together timelines and making connections. I also draw inspiration also for some of my characters from some of the minor historical figures I’m researching. For instance, Maddie’s persona in the 1930s is based upon the whimsical Italian dress designer, Elsa Schiaparelli. After reading her biography, that character in my book practically wrote herself!
As the writing begins, the research continues. I am continually finding valuable connections as I stop countless times to look up odd little things, like seventeenth-century fashion details about clothes that were worn, what people might have eaten for breakfast in Venice (rice with almond milk and creamed cod!) or chairs that might have sat upon in the court of Cosimo II. I keep files filled with written notes, as well as add images to my Pinterest picture boards so I have visual references as well.
3) Do you have another profession besides writing?
I have a Masters Degree in Art History, but am a Graphic Designer by profession. In fact, I designed and illustrated the covers of all three of my novels: Dreaming Sophia, Waking Isabella and Eternally Artemisia, as well as designed each book's interior layout and graphics.
When I created and began writing for the Studentessa Matta Italian & English Blog (www.studentessamatta.com) eight years ago, however, my design career began to shift slightly and now I focus full time on writing articles about Italy, Italian culture and learning the Italian language. The Matta blog has grown to encompass not only written articles but YouTube videos and podcasts.
With the success of my Matta Blog, I now partner with Italian Schools in Italy to organize and lead small group language immersion programs in Arezzo and Montepulciano twice a year and spend about two months now in Italy. In addition to that I also organize individual Italian Language homestays in Italy for those who would like to live with an Italian teacher for a week or two and immerse in language and culture.
4) What made you want to write a novel about Italy?
I have always been a creative person, expressing myself in various ways—through music, painting, and writing. I hadn’t really ever entertained the thought of writing a novel until I started learning Italian seriously and began the Studentessa Matta blog.Every day, for the past eight years, I have been writing articles in Italian and English and publishing them on my website. Over time, I accumulated so many non-fiction stories about Italy, I then began turning over in my head the idea of transforming these stories and anecdotes into a fictional novel so I could reach my readers and followers ina new format.
As a feature on my website I also review books about novels set in Italy. After finishing a book by another author, I was sometimes left a little dissatisfied and a little voice inside my head suggested that I should tell my own story—the story I really wanted to read that combined all of my interests into a uniquely plotted adventure.
At first, I thought the idea was ludicrous, and told myself I wasn’t a writer. Then looking over my eight years of blogging, I told that little voice inside my head to take a hike. Why couldn’t I realize a novel about Italy? I was in fact, a prolific writer already—and in two languages! And now three books later, I am ready to begin a new one.
5) If you could put yourself as a character in your book, who would you be?
All my novels are slightly autobiographical, so in every instance I would have to say I’d be the protagonist. I didn’t start out to write a trilogy, but as I was working on my third novel, I realized I had. Each book, Dreaming Sophia, Waking Isabella and Eternally Artemisia stands on its own, but still, there is a common theme that connects them all and that is—what draws a woman to Italy and why. In each book, I explore the forces at play that cause my protagonists, sometimes against their will, to follow the gentle tug and pull of Italy to make a life there, despite great odds.
Maybe this is because I’m always trying to explain my own “peculiar” fascination with Italy, the Italian people and the language. I have always felt an inexplicable hand pulling me to Italy, despite having no Italian heritage. Like all my female protagonists—Sophia, Nora and Maddie—sometimes I too feel like I have been persuaded by Italian artists and Medici princess’—even seduced by Tuscan ghosts from the past—who whisper into my ear, to learn the language and return home to Italy time and time again. So, perhaps like my characters, I too have lived another life in Italy—or perhaps several!
Thank you to iRead Book Tours and Melissa Muldoon for providing me a free personalized and autographed copy of Eternally Artemisia in exchange for my completely honest and unbiased review.
To start off, I'm not a huge history buff, but I do like reading historical fiction just to mix things up a bit, and Eternally Artemisia definitely hit the mark.
I've never read anything like this before, and it is part of a series actually, the third book in a woman centered series that I definitely want to read the rest of.
I didn't know what to expect when I first read the title, my best guess was that it had something to do with love or something with time travel - what I did expect turned out to be right.
This book read like a love letter to all of European History, it mixed mediums and blurred lines between Catholic biblical principles and events in history that were chronicled in time.
Maddie is the main character in this book and her passion for art and life is just inspiring - the setting of this book played a hand in that too. How else could you describe this book? It was beautifully written and captured the concept of time travel that kind of merged with the idea of Maddie's past and current realities.
Once I got into the groove of things and really started diving into the story, I found myself reacting to things and almost felt like I was in the story with Maddie and seeing events through her eyes - it was a completely magical experience reading this book and I can't wait to read whatever Melissa Muldoon has next.
You can find a copy of this book on Amazon.com or at your local bookstore or other online retailers.
Thank you to Melissa Muldoon once again for allowing me to read this book and for writing a series so empowering and inspiring.
Rating: ★★★★★ 5/5 Stars!