Portrait of An Unknown Woman

Portrait of An Unknown Woman

Book - 2007
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Baker & Taylor
An epic tale set against a backdrop of civil-war-torn sixteenth-century Europe, portraitist Hans Holbein the Younger flees to the safety of Tudor England in order to escape artistic censorship, a refuge from where he paints two nearly identical portraits of Sir Thomas More's family that reflect subtle but significant differences. (Historical Fiction)


The heart has secrets, but the canvas betrays desire The year is 1527. The great portraitist Hans Holbein, who has fled the Reformation in Europe, is making his first trip to England under commission to Sir Thomas More. In the course of six years, Holbein will become a close friend to the More family and paint two nearly identical family portraits. But closer examination of the paintings reveals that the second holds several mysteries. . . .

Publisher: New York : HarperLuxe, c2007
Edition: 1st HarperLuxe large print edition
ISBN: 9780061259272
Characteristics: 698 p. ; 23cm


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Jan 09, 2014

**** stars This very well written book is set during the reign of King Henry VIII and told from the point of view of a ward of Thomas More named Meg. This is the time when Lutherans and other Protestant adherents could be tortured or burned at the stake for their beliefs. Meanwhile King Henry VIII wants to remove the rule of the Pope in England so that he can have his legal marriage annulled and marry Anne Boleyn. Into this mix arrives Hans Holbein. The narrative focuses on two paintings, a portrait of the More family and one of two French Ambassadors. Eventually Thomas More becomes Lord Chancellor for Henry. We also encounter a possible explanation for the disappearance of the two princes locked in the Tower of London by King Richard III. Meg becomes the strongest voice for tolerance and finds it particularly difficult when Thomas More must act against the protestants as the King's Chancellor. The art history is fascinating as the author interprets hidden symbols and artifacts in the paintings of Holbein. I had to look up the two paintings to see the images directly. I think the author did a great job of telling a very readable story of the complexity of the religion, art, and politics of the era. I think Thomas More is "forgiven" a little too easily for this own cruel acts, but other than that, I found this to be a terrific book. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

Mar 18, 2011

I enjoyed this historical fiction, especially as I had not read much about Hans Holbein the artist. It also takes a new and interesting view about the Princes in the Tower which surprised me. This author is worth checking out for historical fiction fans who like real characters woven into the storyline.

Lorna Sep 19, 2008

The best historical fiction I have read in a long time. The plot twists are fabulous if you know the Tudor period.


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Dec 30, 2010

Meg Giggs is adopted daughter of Sir Thomas More. She is well treated but not given the love his natural children are. She develops friendship with tutor John Clement. He goes away to study and when he returns Meg is 23 and they profess their love for each other. Clement tells her More has refused her hand in marriage more than once. Meg has misgivings about More's actions against heretics. This is the time of M. Luther reformation in mainland Europe, also the time Henry 8 is wanting to divorce first wife and marry Anne Boleyn.

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