Passion Blue

Passion Blue - Victoria Strauss Although I am well past this book's theoretical teenage target audience, I hated to put it down.Like "Vivaldi's Virgins," "Passion Blue" is an entertaining, well-researched and thoughtful work of historical fiction that gives us a look at life for women in 16th C. Italy. Giulia, the protagonist, is the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman. Upon her father's death, his wife takes the money intended as Giulia's wedding dowry and buys her a position in a convent. Forced vocations were not at all uncommon.Naturally, Giulia rebels against this idea. She visits an astrologer and asks him to make her a charm that will give her her heart's desire: marriage and children. He, in his turn, tells her to be sure of what her heart's desire truly is, because it may not be all that she thinks.Inside the convent of Santa Marta, Giulia is placed in the novitiate. When one of the sisters finds a drawing that she made, Giulia is apprenticed to Suor Humilita, the maestra of the painting room. Humilita is based on a real 16th C. Italian nun, Suor Plautilla, whose altar pieces remain some of the greatest treasures of the art world. Giulia finds that she has a gift and a love for painting ... but she also falls in love with a young man named Ormanno, whom she meets when he comes to repair a fresco in the convent.The book is full of ups and downs, and gives a look at how little control women had over their lives and vocations in the period and culture. I enjoyed it thoroughly and would recommend it to those with an interest in the subject matter, regardless of their age.