Uni High Reads

A book review blog of the Uni High Library

Blood, Water, Paint by Joy McCullough

Those sensitive to the topics of rape or torture should proceed cautiously. While this book is never extremely physically graphic, it doesn’t shy away from the emotional repercussions of the events it details.

A story expertly told in verse, Blood, Water, Paint retells the true story of Artemisia Gentileschi, a female painting prodigy in the 16thcentury. The book follows her frustrations in a male-dominated society – the injustices of her father, her painting “tutor,” and an incredibly sexist court system. I won’t go too far into her story, as I couldn’t do it the justice she deserves, but suffice to say, it uses verse to combine her development as a painter with her development as a woman – fighting through her mother’s death, a rape, and a trial.

I found this book stunning. I don’t normally go for books in verse, but in this case, it perfectly captures the narrator’s artistic nature, without feeling pretentious at all. The structure of the book also helps it go by very quickly – I read the whole thing in one night. Artemisia Gentileschi was an amazing woman, who endured innumerable struggles fighting for nothing more than justice – not to mention one of the finest painters of the Baroque era. Her work was largely undiscovered until the late 20thcentury, when her paintings were finally shown. The feminist themes in her paintings made her an icon within the movement (as well as the more modern #MeToo movement) and her name continues to hold those connotations today. Those familiar with her work will recognize (and enjoy) the theme of gendered power dynamics at the heart of many of her paintings reflected in this story. However, you also don’t need any knowledge of the painter to enjoy the book. Her story touches themes of injustice, resilience, and self-worth that resonate around the world today.

Call # Fiction M4599b

Student review by Elizabeth

Posted by Pietrus Victoria at 10:42 pm