On Sale: September 29, 2015
Featuring: Lizzie Siddal; Dante Gabriel Rossetti
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Fiction | Historical
"I'll never want to draw anyone else but you. You are my
muse. Without you there is no art in me."
With her pale, luminous skin and cloud of copper-colored
hair, nineteen-year-old Lizzie Siddal looks nothing like the
rosy-cheeked ideal of Victorian beauty. Working in a London
milliner's shop, Lizzie stitches elegant bonnets destined
for wealthier young women, until a chance meeting brings her
to the attention of painter and poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
Enchanted both by her ethereal appearance and her artistic
ambitions--quite out of place for a shop girl--Rossetti
draws her into his glittering world of salons and bohemian
Lizzie begins to sit for some of the most celebrated members
of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, posing for John Everett
Millais as Shakespeare's Ophelia, for William Holman
Hunt--and especially for Rossetti, who immortalizes her in
countless paintings as his namesake's beloved Beatrice. The
passionate visions Rossetti creates on canvas are echoed in
their intense affair. But while Lizzie strives to establish
herself as a painter and poet in her own right, betrayal,
illness, and addiction leave her struggling to save her
marriage and her sense of self.
Rita Cameron weaves historical figures and vivid details
into a complex, unconventional love story, giving voice to
one of the most influential yet overlooked figures of a
fascinating era--a woman who is both artist and inspiration,
long gazed upon, but until now, never fully seen.
Rossetti stood behind the canvas, pretending to study
Deverell's painting while he admired its model. Despite
Deverell's enthusiastic descriptions, Rossetti was
completely unprepared for the glorious woman before him. She
seemed to be from another age, as if she had sprung to life
from an antique painting of an Italian saint. Seated before
the window, her hair cast a slight golden glow in the
afternoon sun, like a halo. She could not have been more
perfect if he had sculpted her from marble with his own
hands. Deverell claimed that he had found the perfect Viola,
but this girl was far too beautiful to pose as some
love-sick page. She was clearly meant to sit for the great
heroines of history and myth, and Rossetti vowed to paint
her as a queen.
"Miss Siddal, has anyone ever told you that you were surely
crafted by the gods in order to be painted? If you don't
believe that yours is a beauty for the ages, you
The force of his words struck Lizzie, and she wondered if he
was serious, and if it could be true. Was this the thing
that she had always been waiting for? Was she really meant
to inspire great artists? Her head buzzed with the
possibility, but the very allure of the idea felt dangerous...
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