Monday, October 19, 2015

Review: "Becoming Lisette" by Rebecca Glenn

From Goodreads:  Independent and beautiful, Élisabeth Vigée, affectionately called Lisette by friends and family, has progressed in the art of oil painting faster than anyone could have anticipated. Having received instruction from her beloved father, Louis Vigée, a prominent Parisian guild painter, Lisette possesses all the qualities of a brilliant young painter, but is saddled with a singular disadvantage – being a woman in 18-century Paris. Undeterred, Lisette believes that she can become a painter.

Approaching a marriageable age, her parents have other plans for Lisette, ones that don’t include painting. Lisette finds support in Queen Marie Antoinette and a dashing art collector and French Army officer named Amante, who is clearly intrigued by her talent and beauty. After Lisette’s father dies unexpectedly, her family is left in dire financial straits. Lisette wants to support her family, but before she can sell a single painting, her mother marries a wealthy merchant jeweler named Le Sèvre. Le Sèvre discovers Lisette’s artistic abilities and soon has her painting portraits of his noble and wealthy jewelry clientele.

It quickly becomes clear that Le Sèvre only wants to control Lisette, leading to severe consequences for her budding career, Amante’s pursuit of her affections and even her safety. Lisette realizes that she must find her own way – before it is too late.

My Thoughts:  I've always enjoyed Elisabeth Vigee LeBrun's paintings so when the opportunity arose to review this book, I jumped at it.  Becoming Lisette was a such a wonderful surprise:  Ms. Glenn has given us a well-written portrayal of this talented artist.

Becoming Lisette is an early look at Vigee LeBrun's life, before she has reached the fame and notoriety of her later life.  I loved reading about Lisette's passion for art and painting; the descriptions of the colors she used and the way she painted were amazing.  I felt like I could almost visualize the paintings as she was working on them.

I also really enjoyed reading about life in Paris during that late 17th century.  Lisette's family wasn't very well off while her father was alive so it was interesting to see lower-middle class life and then the jump to upper-middle class life.  There was such a huge shift in the way Lisette and her mother lived their every day lives and it was fascinating to see how differently people of various classes lived.  I will say that I loved reading about the meals that Lisette and her mother prepared and served.  They were so intricate and there was such a controlled structure to how they were served and in what order.  It made me want to research French food!

I was a little disappointed with how abruptly this story ended but when I realized that there will be second book, it made more sense (can't wait to read the next one!).  Overall, I found Becoming Lisette to be a great book.  4 stars.

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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